October 29, 2009

Can We Build It?

Several months ago I came across these plans to make a rotating can storage rack out of cardboard. Since I tend to buy large quantities of items but have a bad habit of just putting the new items in front of the old... I always wanted some can rotators. But being the frugal person I am, I just couldn't spend the money on fancy, expensive ones. So, I thought I would take "Grandpa's" plans and make one to try out.

My prototype

Well, the first one was a challenge. I finished it but set aside the idea for awhile because I had so much trouble putting it together... it seemed that it was a project for someone with six hands! Plus Grandpa's plans were not exactly written out in a helpful, step by step fashion.

Then another blog I like to read posted the same instructions and in the comments I got several suggestions that helped me out. The most important tip was to use pins to hold everything in place instead of growing a few extra hands! Why didn't I think of that?! Now I was willing to give it a second try.

I made a few other "improvements" to the plans as long as I was at it. The second rotator went together much easier and by the fourth I was a pro. Now I think I could put them together with one hand tied behind my back. Okay, so not really... but this new improved method really helped! And my new and improved method is stronger because it adds shelf supports:


If you want to make more than one I highly recommend making a template of the pieces. I used shirt gift boxes. They're thin yet sturdy enough to use repeatedly if you mark lightly with a pencil. You also want to use a utility blade with a fresh blade. It just makes the edges so much nicer. Use a straight edge too! Crooked pieces don't go together as nicely. (Trust me on that one!)

Here's what you'll need:
utility knife, wood glue (or caulk), metal carpenter square (or ruler),
sturdy 2 ply cardboard, pins, and the plans*

Assembly Shelly's Way:

1. Measure and cut out all necessary pieces. This is probably the most time consuming step and why you'll want templates if you're making more than one.

2. Mark the sides (both left and right) where the shelves will go. This part is NOT in the plans... glue thin strips of cardboard (mine are about 1/2 inch wide and 5 inches or so long--no longer or they'll interfere with the can rolling) just below the lines you've marked (left photo). Squirt glue on marked lines (center photo). Place center shelves onto glue (right photo). Let it dry for a bit. If your shelves won't stand up support them with something.


3. Now squirt glue onto the opposite side and... this is the hardest part... line it up just right and put in place. If you placed those thin support strips in the right place it will help you line it up. When you are done it will look like this:

I like to pin it all in place to keep everything from shifting because at this point it's like a house of cards and prone to collapse.


I cheat a bit and don't wait for the glue to dry. I just keep on truckin', but I'm brave like that... or impatient. You can let the glue dry if you want. Just do yourself a favor and stand the whole thing up and make sure it's square and all the shelves look even.

4. Glue (and pin) the bottom front (left photo), top front (middle photo), and back (right photo) in place. These pieces kind of come around the corners which adds strength. Grandpa's original design did not have the back this way. That is a modification by Shelly (aka "Shellification"). You will also need to glue the "wood block" in place at the back of the bottom shelf. The wood block is not really wood, it's just a card board rectangle glued in on an angle that keeps the cans moving forward. It is hidden away in there and therefore not easy to photograph, but trust me... you need it!


5. At this point I like to turn the whole thing on it's side and set some heavy books (heavy in weight, not content... although I used books heavy in both respects for mine!) on top of the whole thing. Once the glue is dry, remove the books, then the pins. Cut a small notch where indicated to make it easier to remove the cans. Label, if you so desire, and then try it out!
Grandpa paints his to make them sturdier, but I am just using mine plain and taking my chances. Grandpa's plans include dimensions for all sizes of cans. I want to make a couple that are wide enough for peanut butter jars. Peanut butter is the thing I have the hardest time following the FIFO rule on (FIFO=first in first out).

Too lazy to make these?? I found, after I made mine, that you can buy something very similar made from cardboard for pretty cheap. I might have gone with this option had I known about it sooner, but there is some satisfaction in knowing you made them yourself.

*Follow this link to get a pdf of the original plans.

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