Last year around this time, Chuck and I built a set of Hungarian shelves at his place. This year, with lessons learned, I did the same at my place. I am decluttering the house and needed some overflow as well as a place where the other half could display pictures and knick knacks. An eight-foot system of nine shelves seemed to be the ticket. I learned a great deal from the last install and decided to change things up a little this time.
The basic premise is exactly the same. Vertical runners (or Nutter-bars, as my wife came to refer to them when they were cut, stained, and laid out drying in pairs) are secured to the wall over the studs with large drywall screws in each notch for a total of 54 screws. I used 2×4’s for the vertical pieces this time as they were cheaper and provided more than enough support for the shelves.
Notching the verticals with a circular saw was a bit of a pain at first. Nibbling away the middle of the notch after a cut on either side with a saw blade is clunky and time-consuming. About 25 notches in, I discovered just doing a cut with the circ-saw on either side then knocking out the bit in between with a chisel was faster, much easier, and better for the saw. The shelves themselves measured eleven inches deep and eight feet across except for the upper two which are six inches deep. This wasn’t a design factor but more of a “use what I had on hand” decision.
Most of the furniture in my place is dark, so I chose to throw a good coat of oil-based stain on them before the install. The color turned out about perfect. I’d have used a system other than standard Minwax, but I didn’t know of anything other than paint that would one-shot pine the dark red I was looking for.
Like Chuck, I mounted the verticals first and test fit/notched the shelves after I knew for sure where the notches would be. I just don’t trust theoretical measurements over actual ones; in my experience something always goes south with “I swear I measured that correctly.”
After a week of drying time in the garage (Minwax stinks to high heaven and the smell takes a while to dissipate), the shelves were installed and looking good in about two hours. No sooner had I finished shimming them up with carpenter’s shims than we had them halfway loaded with stuff. This really is a pretty forgiving project, even for beginners, and we would recommend it to anyone looking to build cheap, effective shelving.
Hungarian Shelves FTW (or Why TM Readers Rock) [Toolmonger]