Studio Upgrade: Ware Rack
I'm upgrading studio furniture and will be documenting the process. Everything will be purpose-built for my studio operations and space limitations of my space. If you have your own pottery studio or plan on pursuing a ceramic studio in the future, these plans may be helpful.
The first build is a ware rack. I have been operating my studio with permanent wood shelving for the past few years and wanted the flexibility of re-positionable shelves to better accommodate work of varying heights. The parameters of the project were:
- No taller than 6 feet. I want useable storage space on top and anything too tall becomes a bother to access.
- Shelves are 24" x 24". Having square shelving allows them to be rotated every 90°. I am color-labeling the edges so that I can indicate the firing cone of each shelf and the work on it. For example, shelves with a green edge facing out are to be fired cone 04 bisque. I glaze fire to a few different cones and I can more easily keep track of how the work is building up per cone and when to load each firing.
- Use a minimal amount of tools. The tools I used: circular saw, miter saw, table saw, power drill, orbital sander.
The ware rack was drafted using SketchUp. While it is a simple design, using SketchUp allowed me to easily determine the material list. I have a SketchUp design of my studio space and can move furniture around to see how it will all fit and get a perspective on the efficiency of the layout.
- 2x4x6ft (6 total)
- 2x4x8ft (2 total)
- 4x8x3/4" ACX plywood (1 sheet, depending on how many shelves you want to cut)
- #9 2.75" torx head construction screws (1 box)
- #6 1.625" torx head construction screws (1 box)
Four of the 2x4x6ft boards will be the uprights and don't need to be cut. The two 2x4x8ft boards will make the top and bottom boxes. Cut each 8ft board into two 2ft lengths and two 1'9" lengths. When these are assembled there will be a 24"x24" inside square dimension. Cut the remaining 6ft boards into 2ft lengths and then rip those sections into 3/4" widths. These strips will form the shelf slides. Cut the 4x8 sheet of plywood into 24"x24" squares.
Screw the top and bottom boxes together. It can help to have a right triangle and clamps so you can true up the butt joint before screwing. When the boxes are constructed, place them on the ground, on edge. Set two of the uprights on them. The uprights need to be perpendicular to the boxes. This can be checked by laying everything in place and measuring corner-to-corner. When the lengths of both diagonals are equal, the legs should be square with the boxes. Failing to do this could result in a parallelogram shelf that wants to fall over with stood up. Clamp and screw the uprights to the boxes.
When the frame is assembled, stand the ware rack on its feet. Measure and mark the location of each shelf slide. I measured only one side of each slide. When I screwed the slide strip to the leg, I used a torpedo level to make sure the shelves would be level. Screw each side of each slide to the legs. I used one screw per side, but two could be used it you're going to be putting substantial weight on your shelves.
I finished each shelf by sanding the top surface and edges. Using three different colored spray paints, I colored the edges differently. These will allow the shelves to be rotated and indicate what cone the clay on that shelf will be fired to.
If you want to move these racks you could easily add casters to the bottom legs. I don't plan on moving mine since my kiln is ten feet away. The racks could be sanded and finished if that is important to you. I don't mind raw construction lumber in my studio; it is rugged, inexpensive, and easily repurposed for other projects if I find I no longer need that piece of furniture.