I’ve built a lot of bookshelves for our home office, but there comes a time when form becomes just as important as function. I needed something that was unique, and I could use it to store some things. It was also necessary to create an extended perch for the cats to look out the window. I came up with an idea that used a ledger board on a wall that a series of boxes could be hung on using pocket holes. One of the nice things about this project is that it is scalable and adaptable to whatever kind of working environment you have. Just change the size of the board and the boxes to suit your needs.
Step 1 - Size Matters
I measured the space under the window I wanted to use and figured out just how big the ledger board needed to be. I had quite a few scrap boards of MDF left over from other projects, so I knew I could use these up. To simplify I decided that the ledger board would be 9 inches tall and all the boxes would be 9 inches deep. Using a table saw, I ripped all the boards down to this height.
Step 2 - Boxing Day
Once I knew the scale of the board, I mapped out the sizes of the boxes I wanted to hang. Because of the configuration of our office, I knew the boxes would be grouped to one side, so I played off this asymmetry and planned each box to be a different size.
I cut the boards down to the length of the box sides using a crosscut sled on the table saw. Depending on the materials you use, it might be easier to do this step with a miter saw, but the 9-inch board heights made the sled necessary.
Step 3 - Build a Box
I used pocket holes to create the boxes, including wood glue at the joints for extra stability. While I was drilling the holes into the boards to be joined together, I also put pocket holes pointing toward the back of the box, so I’d have a way to mount the box to the ledger board.
Once the boxes were complete, I used 1 1/2-inch strips of MDF to create face frames, which I mitered at the sides and glued and tacked to the fronts of the boxes with a nail gun.
Step 4 - Put Some Color on It
Now that the ledger board and boxes were all built, it was time to paint. I rolled basic black on everything. Two coats.
I knew I was on the right track because a tiny lizard came into the shop to admire the work. For size reference, the reptile is on 3/4-inch MDF.
Once everything was dry, I got to be artistic with a can of gold spray paint. I deliberately didn’t want to have clean lines and used overspray to create a burnished look.
Just the face and front edges of the boxes got the gold. For continuity, I hit the corners of the ledger board with the gold as well.
Step 5 - Put it Up
Because this was going to be bearing the weight of the boxes as well as any cats who might stand or sleep on it, it was essential to screw the ledger board into studs. I located them and mounted the board with 3-inch wood screws.
With the ledger board in place, it was just a matter of first choosing the best arrangement of the boxes, then using the already drilled pocket holes to mount them. I didn’t use glue here, thus leaving myself open to rearrange the boxes some time in the future. The most important part of hanging the boxes was making sure their tops were even with the top of the ledger board and the windowsill.
In a way, the endeavor was just as much about building the furniture as its final usefulness. It was an opportunity to be both logical and creative.
Once the piece was up, my wife found various objects from around the office to fill the shadow boxes. Ultimately, the project was the perfect blend: a functional space that was also aesthetically pleasing.