tilting shelves, is this a good idea?

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Forum topic by bafonso posted 05-26-2018 04:49 AM 986 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 824 days

05-26-2018 04:49 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question shelves threaded rod rod tilting

Hi everyone,

My woodworking skills are very basic. Mostly still using stock from HD or Rona (i’m in canada) and right now I’m trying to organize my studio.. so I need some shelves. I decided to become a bit fancy and design something with a single side and would love to be able to ajust the tilt on at least one of the 3 shelves I’m planning. The thing is I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or not. I have several questions for you masters.. and I provide a sketch of what I have in mind. This is really rough stuff, 2×4, 2×2 and plywood. I don’t feel yet comfortable to use better wood :)

My questions are:

1) How big (long and wide) should my feet be in order for this thing to be stable? Right now I have just 2×4 but I’m not sure it will be stable enough… I would really love not to have to make a square at the bottom but I could make a bottom shelf not as deep, that may be a good compromise. What this thing can’t do is tilt, it’s gonna have pricey stuff on it :)

2) how do I implement the tilting shelf using a threaded rod. Do I need to get inserts that go inside the lateral post and the shelf side, should these be threaded? And how big should this threaded rod be to support 36” wide shelves?

I would love any help on this :)

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4459 days

#1 posted 05-26-2018 05:14 AM

I would add diagonal gussets on either side of
the legs and make the feet at least 16” long,
maybe longer. Sometimes this is done with
a plywood triangle.

Sandpaper adhered to the mating surfaces will
provide an enhanced grip. All you need for
threaded rod is something like wingnuts or
knobs for the ends and some fender washers
to suppress denting of the wood when they
are tightened hard. Another way to do
it involves a sort of trunnion with a pivot pin
on one side and a curved slot on the other
for the rod or bolt to pass through. This way
when clamped down the ends are supported
at two points instead of one.

View fuigb's profile


583 posts in 3769 days

#2 posted 05-26-2018 12:24 PM

@OP, you want tilting shelves, not tilted shelves? Why do you need the variability that comes with shelves that are not fixed? Permanent instead of variable will be easier to construct.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2535 posts in 974 days

#3 posted 05-26-2018 02:02 PM

a tilting shelf sounds like a good idea.
what will you be putting on the shelves in your “studio” ??

I would use the T-Nut to anchor into the wood.

I just remembered that I have a similar project you may be interested in.
it is a rolling stand for a plotter made with 1×4 oak lumber.
it has been in open storage for several years and the finish is gone,
all dusty and dirty with some water stains. after some cleaning, sanding
and refinishing, it will be put back into service.
this idea could be adapted to accommodate shelves and castors if you wanted them.
the bottom base stand is 1×4x26” and quite steady and will support a 30 pound plotter with ease.
(the top shelf that holds the plotter will be 14” deep and 28” long).
[I won’t be using the castors, as once the plotter is in place, it is hardly ever moved from that spot].

this is what the modern store-bought version looks like (all metal).


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View LesB's profile


2576 posts in 4254 days

#4 posted 05-26-2018 06:00 PM

A little more info would be helpful. Will the pricy stuff be heavy? Not knowing what sort of items you intend to display have you come up with a way to stop them from sliding off then the shelf is tilted?

I would definitely use a threaded insert as indicated in the above answer.

I have some concern about the shelf not being held firmly with only a single point of support. So I would suggest adding an additional support in the form of an adjustable angle brace as indicated with the red lines in the pict below.
The alternative would be some sort of ratchet socket built into the rotation point that would lock in at preset stops.

-- Les B, Oregon

View MNgary's profile


318 posts in 3228 days

#5 posted 05-27-2018 01:34 PM

I would make the feet longer than the shelf depth. 2×4 could be adequate for the feet. Just a suggestion, but I would attach a thin (quarter inch) 3 inch wide by 1 and 1/2 inch deep pad under front and back ends of the feet. This will minimize rocking if on an uneven floor.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Woodknack's profile


13445 posts in 3191 days

#6 posted 05-27-2018 04:47 PM

I think you need to up size the sides from 2×4 to 1×6 or 2×6 depending on the weight, maybe even 1×8. Not because 2×4 aren’t strong enough but I think you’ll need additional friction and support. Be picky about the lumber because you don’t want it warping in a few months and dumping the shelf contents. On the whole, if the stuff is valuable, I think this a bad idea unless you know what you’re doing.

-- Rick M,

View wichman3's profile


98 posts in 1432 days

#7 posted 05-28-2018 02:48 AM

If I were doing this I would; 1. use a half circle of plywood to support each shelf and brace the legs. a. using half circle on each shelf and the legs would keep the visual elements the same. b. on the adjustable tilt shelf I would cut a semi circular slot near the curved edge, then add another threaded bolt to the leg at the slot, this would allow a clamping mechanism with greater leverage than just the one at the pivot point. c. the half circle would be flat side up on the selves and flat side down on the legs. d. additional designs could be cut into each half circle to enhance the appearance of the unit. (spokes, scrollwork, routed figures, etc. e. to maximize structural strength on the legs, use a single piece to brace the legs, fasten the brace to the cross members then to the leg. f. If you plan the length of the slot, you could use it as a limiter of just how much tilt the shelf can have.
For a 36” wide shelf I would use no less than a 24” half circle with the slot 2” in from the curved edge.

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