Novelty Shelving Unit

The novelty of this shelving unit is that it was made without using any screws or glue. When it’s pushed, it wavers, but items do not fall off unless they were already unsteady. The video above shows me pushing the unit with glass milk bottles on the top shelf. The bottles did not fall off.

This shelving unit happened incidentally. My original intention was to make a dividing screen for the living area in my apartment. I was passing a billboard while riding a bus during the Fall and it gave me the idea to use a spiral shape for the feet. I don’t remember what I saw on the billboard, but I remember thinking, “Hey! Spirals can wobble without falling. That should work.”

Later, I modeled spiral feet to fit 1/4″ dowels and connectors to link sets together. I tested the feet, dowels, and connectors setup by placing different weights of fabric on top. I found that the setup was only stable with chiffon weight fabrics. Chiffon was too sheer for my purposes and I abandoned the idea of making a divider with the setup.3D printed Quarter Inch Dowel Caps

Bin project
Bin project

I needed a bin to store leftover wood pieces and thought the spiral feet, dowels, and connectors may work. I purchased a wood plaque from Micheal’s and drilled holes at the corners. Something was required to hold connectors at different heights. I felt I could not depend on small screws to bind connectors to the 1/4″ dowels and came up with the idea of tubes. I put a bin together with the tubes and it held just long enough to post a photograph on Instagram. Another failure. By the way, the wood plaque found a home as a small table, along with maple dowels, for holding my humidifier.

The leaning of the dowels in the bin project reminded me of the cabinet project. I used the same dowel size in that project and the cabinet swayed to one side. The shelf provided stability for the portion it connected and I realized cross sections were needed every 8 or 9 inches to prevent swaying. I was able to salvage a shorter cabinet from the taller cabinet and it has supported my printer/copier for months. I decided to apply this lesson to the feet, dowels, and connectors setup. The tubes were doing a good job of keeping the connectors in position. I figured they would do the same with wood shelves and they did.

Wood plaque table
Wood Plaque Table

One thing I realized was that the 3D printed tubes could be substituted with vinyl tubing or any sturdy material having an inner diameter of 1/4″. The green shelving unit was made with vinyl tubes. The tubes were difficult to put on until I was 90% finished and discovered I could warm the plastic a little with my hands. When warmed, the tube was easier to stretch and straighten.

I adore my shelving units! I use them to hold electronics, plastic bins, and knick knacks. Files for the 3D parts are available for free on Thingiverse. An Instructable and video shows how to make one.

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