Making a shelf for the Boler – A story about failure

By Erin Wainwright on February 25, 2020 in Making

That’s right! I’m going to tell you about a time that I failed at something. Could you imagine if we only ever succeeded at everything we ever did? Boooooring! Some of my greatest successes were born from failures and I always learn something. Like I did in this story :).

Last year I wanted to add some storage to the Boler for frequently used items such as keys, phones, sunglasses and especially my books. The best place to put the shelf was on the side of the closet closest to the table (which is also the bed which my husband and I share) so I could have a place to put away the book I’m reading after everyone else had gone to sleep without disturbing anyone.

I saw some box type shelves made from plastic that attached to a board with magnets and I wanted to make something similar but with plywood and wood glue.

I measured everything, bought some plywood and then started designing! Here’s the back of the shelf fresh off the laser cutter.

Here it is with the top shelf for holding phones and sunglasses and the larger bottom shelf for the books. The shelves are made using finger joints and wood glue. I was going to attach some hooks under the larger shelf for keys. The entire shelf would be attached it to the closet with rivets in each of the four corners.

Here’s Jon holding up the shelf to test whether the wood glue would hold with items in the shelves. It did great! Wood glue is tough stuff.

The shelf looks pretty good right? Well, here’s where the story gets sad. It was almost perfect but unfortunately it stuck out a little too much making it awkward to sit down at the table. Even though I had measured and I thought it would be a good distance the reality wasn’t going to cut it. I kept thinking of the boys banging into it and hurting themselves. It would have worked better if it wasn’t so long, the higher up it was the more out of the way it got, but I needed space between the two shelves for the books to fit and I had positioned it as high as it could go. I decided to try again in a bit with just a shelf for the books and some hooks. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but I didn’t see what else I could do.

Luckily, the next week I was dropping off some equipment from work for repairs and the shop wasn’t open yet. To kill time I wandered into Winners and in the back of the store on clearance was a two basket wire shelf with hooks. It was a lot shorter than the shelf I had made and I was pretty sure no books would fit in it but it was a really great price so I took a chance and bought it. I figured I could always attach it in a different location for a different purpose.

Spoiler alert! It worked out.

Here it is and I know what you’re thinking, sure it looks super cute but there’s no way books can fit in between those baskets!

They do! It’s hard to see but I’ve got three book in there!

That’s where I went wrong with my design. I thought I needed space for the books under the top shelf but I didn’t. Look at the profile of the wire shelf.

The walls of the baskets are at an angle which allows the books to fit with a much smaller footprint and that’s definitely knowledge I can use for future builds! Especially builds for the Boler where space is really limited.

The wire baskets hold quite a bit of stuff, but not as much as the shelf I built ;). If you’re wondering what I did with that shelf, I ended up selling it so it wasn’t a total loss.

So there you go! You can almost always get something useful from a failure. I would love to hear any good failure stories you have to share!