If you've ever set foot in the Better Farm library, you've probably noticed our extensive record collection. Unfortunately, these hundreds of records have been sitting on uneven shelving for a while and are in jeopardy of warping. In order to free up precious library space and preserve our records, we really needed some sort of sturdy, modular shelving that could be arranged (and rearranged) as our needs changed.

The typical thing to do in this situation would be to hop online and look for some easy, cheap shelving at IKEA. But home improvement is almost always cheaper, more fun, and better for the earth when it's done at home. So this week the Better Interns (and friends!) set out to create cubby-style shelves. We created a design for 5-sided cubes with a 13.5" x 13.5" workable space  based on a larger plan found at

Note: if you create your own design and need help visualizing/planning, try to mock it up in the free version Google Sketchup!

Anyway, here is our supplies list for three boxes:
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer and nails (or nail gun)
  • Table saw
  • One 4' x 8' x 3/4" piece of plywood
From there, we created our cut list (the pieces of wood necessary for one box):
  • 2 pieces 15" x 15" x 3/4" (top and bottom)
  • 2 pieces 15" x 13.5" x 3/4" (sides)
  • 1 piece 13.5" x 13.5" x 3/4" (back)
We then used the table saw to cut our plywood lengthwise into three 15-inch strips. (Remember: measure eight times, cut once! No saw will give you a perfect cut, so it's important to be meticulous if you want your box to look good). From there, we cut the strips into 15" x 15" squares. After we had all of our squares, we adjusted the saw 13.5 inches and trimmed the squares to that length as needed.

With all of our pieces ready, we mocked up one box, assembling it without nailing or gluing. When we figured how we wanted our pieces to fit together (which side would face outwards, which facet would connect with which piece of wood, etc.), we set out gluing and nailing. The final result? Pretty snazzy.