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Thread: cellar shelves for canned goods

  1. #1
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    cellar shelves for canned goods

    I did search on pantries, pretty clear lots and lots of us get roped into building kitchen cabinets with doors on them, then shelves on drawer runners with lots of weight (canned goods) on the sliding shelves. Which is fine, but not my current project.

    The wife and I are getting into canning this summer. I am sure someone here has felt the pain I am feeling, this thing has taken on a life of its own. I got to find a place for all these canning jars, and it feels like we are just getting started. We have been paying almost $2 each for new canning jars, then some used canning jars were found at a yard sale for 50 cents each and you know how that ended.

    I have been to the sagulator. If I build shelves 15" deep x 24" wide from 3/4 (actual) poplar, and then load them up with 30# per running foot my sag is 0.003" over the 24" run, with 0.02" considered acceptable. So good there. I could use birch, the local stuff is cheaper per board foot, but it is almost all milled to 8/4. By the time I get it resawn I might as well just buy 4/4 poplar up front.

    I am a little concerned about how tall I can go with something like this before I have to tie it to the wall. Pic is 12 dozen canning jars stacked in front of the washing machine, with the propane burners on top of them. I am supposed to install an earthquake strap on my water heater per local code, so my thinking is it will be prudent to tie a shelving unit like this to the wall either already or before it gets any taller. I would prefer to build these as free standing units, then attach them to the walls, and take them with us when we downsize from the house.

    I am open to any and all pointers here. This is (these are) going in the garage and doesn't (don't) need doors on the front. It should not look like a dog's breakfast, but I don't need to use figured hardwood. I am planning to track the "Boarded Book Case" from CS's "Anarchist Design Book" for the first one with fixed shelf spacing for pint and half pint jars, and limit the height to about 40 inches. I have a lifetime supply of old timey nails, so no added expense there. Also, since it is just the wife and I at home we are planning to process pints and half pints only - we don't have any kids home to need anything we can think of processed in quart jars.

    I am fairly confident I will someday be making wooden tray boxes with dividers in them to manage canning jars by the dozen as the factory cardboard gets worn out.

    Thanks

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  2. #2
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    First off, since you are in Alaska and there are earthquakes there I would suggest that you tie the shelves to the wall.

    we used to lots of canning, but have tapered off now. I built the shelves below to hold our jars. As you can see it is 2 x 4 and plywood construction. The shelves are 3/4" plywood and are 22-1/2" wide and 20" deep. Each shelf will hold 30 canning jars. I made all the shelves the same height to give flexibility to store like goods together. Pints just have more space above the jars. They served us well for over 40 years so far.
    shelves.jpg
    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 06-28-2022 at 8:18 AM.
    Lee Schierer
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  3. #3
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    I think you are right about the wall ties Lee. When a book slips off a shelf, I can still read it. If a mason jar gets cracked, I can't get the glass fragments out of the food and the entire unit is a total loss. All the time talent and treasure to grow the tomato, and all the processing, and the energy to heat the canner, all wasted.

    Thanks for that.

  4. #4
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    I have been playing on the sagulator a little bit.

    I can possibly save time and have a stiffer shelf if I used 3/4 fir ply for the shelves, but then use 0.25 x 2" pieces of red oak stock as a stiffener at the front. But I could have the stiffener flush with the bottom of the shelf and make a lip at the front of the shelf so the canning jars are less likely to slide off.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post
    I have been playing on the sagulator a little bit.

    I can possibly save time and have a stiffer shelf if I used 3/4 fir ply for the shelves, but then use 0.25 x 2" pieces of red oak stock as a stiffener at the front. But I could have the stiffener flush with the bottom of the shelf and make a lip at the front of the shelf so the canning jars are less likely to slide off.
    I was going to reply that I wouldn't like a lip on these shelves, but then I googled for information on seismic activity in Alaska - wow! I still think a 1-1/4" lip might be an annoyance when removing jars, but certainly some sort of lip makes sense.

    And I'll second Lee's recommendation to tie these to the wall - doesn't take much, just a couple of nylon straps with screws into studs.

  6. #6
    Iíve built storage shelves using 1x2 or 3 frames with 1/4Ē THB tops. If you want a lip on the front use the 1x3 slotted so the THB inserts into it. Each shelf can be anchored to studs if you choose. Yes, with the frames you. Loose a little height, but jars can be tipped to fit in. Iíve used 2x4ís for the riser supports or as shown I doubled up the 1x3 or 4. I used these in my office as deep as 36Ē. When we moved out it took minutes to break down the shelves and they went back up quickly as well. Inexpensive, transportable and strong. Also with the THB you have a top that you can easily dust and, really, which of us doesnít like to dust our shelves easily?
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  7. #7
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    Hopefully 2-3 weeks for a finished project in the project section. I still need to figure out leveling feet like under a washing machine and wall fasteners for earthquake resistance. Finished item, fully loaded, will be ~400 pounds on a nominal 16x26 inch foot print.

    I have preliminary wife approval based on my 1/3 scale model pictured. I only put in a few shelves at the bottom for spacing, with visible endgrain at the level the earthquake hangers will be fixed, 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up. I was hoping to jam the shelves close enough together that a single jar could not tip out during an earthquake without first being lifted over the lip on each shelf. The shelves on thing I am about to build will all be the same spacing so wide mouth pints ( 4.5 inches tall) and regular mouthed half pints (3.75 inches tall) can go on every shelf or be mixed. And there will be (vertical) room for the labels on the lids of the front row of each shelf to be read in situ. Still earthquake resistant, but perhaps less resistant than originally hoped.

    FWIW it is just the wife and I at home, no plan to can anything by the quart. At the end of the day there can always be a big enough earthquake to reduce the house to splinters with recovery of home canned produce a secondary consideration.

    First unit should be able to hold about 300 canning jars, mixed pint and half pint, with a double height shelf under an 8 foot ceiling for a reasonable number of bands or screw tops. Those bands are like rabbits or coat hangers, once you have a breeding pair in the house they are everywhere. Like tribbles if you are a Star Trek fan. Goal is to fit all the full and empty jars in this thing so they aren't underfoot all over the house.

    Construction will be close to 4 sheets of half inch birch veneer plywood that has been taking up room in the garage for years, spray shellac finish. I am going to make the shell from continuous plywood and use a second layer of tacked in plywood to support the individual shelves, rather than cut dados. I am likely to use PVA for the case and haven't made up my mind for tacking the shelf supports to the case. Shelf lips and face frame coverage will be 1/4 inch red oak.

    Input welcome on glue choice, wall fasteners for earthquake, and leveling feet. I am hoping/planning to go through my existing 4 sheets of birch veneer to choose visible continuous side panels on 07-28, tomorrow; first cuts planned for 07-29. One of he pics is spray shellac finish on the birch veneer plywood I have in stock, on an air filter.

    FWIW the one inch diameter dowel rod is pretty darn close to scale height for wide mouth pints, the plywood blob is correct for width and length but a bit shy on scale height for a boxed dozen.

    Thanks.

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  8. #8
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    Scott,
    I have considered building something similar for my canned goods - one idea I have played with is to add a simple strap across the front of each shelf at approximately the midpoint of the jars being stored on the shelf. That would add a little work to retrieve a jar, but also add a little safety in the event of an earthquake (admittedly rare here in CO).


    Patrick

  9. #9
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    I have a grain matching problem and am about to reach for a paint bucket.

    As you can see in post #7, especially in the middle two pictures, I used slivers of hickory on the scale model to represent the shelf lips.

    For elevated wife approval factor, the final design utilizes both shelf lips as pictured, and similar vertical slivers (not pictured) between each lip to cover up the double layer of plywood edge between the lips.

    The outer casework is now glued up, with three fixed shelves glued in. Both sides and the back feature vertical grain in half inch USA birch plywood as pictured in post 7 (pic 4). It is nominal 25 x 16 x 88 inches.

    The scrap of Baltic Birch I have to make all the slivers from is 5 layer quarter inch thick, 15x96. The shelf lips are going to have horizontal grain.

    The back and sides will be finished with blonde shellac, hopefully. I see three options for the front of the case, and I don't love any of them.

    1. Assemble the front with horizontal grain lips, vertical grain vertical slivers, then paint the lips and shellac the verticals.

    2. Assemble the face willy nilly and paint the entire thing.

    3. Assemble the face all horizontal grain, look at it, and then decide what to do.

    I think right now my best option is to proceed with all horizontal grain on the front face and see how bad it looks. This is going in the garage. It is going to hold canned goods. But someday one of my kids will drag this thing out into the driveway for my estate sale and I would like for them to at least recover the price of the plywood used. I have some pretty consistent fiddleback figure in birch top to bottom on the sides of the full sized case that would be a shame to paint over.

    Thanks
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  10. #10
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    I should mention my BB scrap does have enough fiddleback figure to do the vertical slivers in vertical grain fiddleback and paint over the horizontal grain shelf lips. Dang it. I think I know what Edwin Santos would do.
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  11. #11
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    How about continuous vertical-grain banding on the sides, and fit the horizontal-grain lips between so that it just looks like an extra-thick horizontal-grain shelf? I'm not sure how tall the lips are, but if you're concerned about stability without running them out over the sides, you might be able to fix a piece of cove molding behind the lip to provide additional support.

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