Easy Wooden Printer Stand (Universal Shelf)

It is funny, or irritating depending on your disposition, how one thing tends to lead to another.  When I was building houses, we used to joke around about how a minor last minute color change could lead to fifty thousand dollars in change orders.  In fact, I was once asked how to fix a kitchen cabinet with a very minor and easily repaired delaminating veneer corner.  Within a few hours, the couple had talked themselves into, and put down a deposit, on a thirty thousand dollar kitchen remodel.

That is how this project started.  My old printer finally died.  I should have been better prepared considering the screen had been blinking on and off form months, the chances for a paper jam were about one in six, and it seemed to have an ongoing auto-response to my computer telling it to print that is identical to my 8 year old’s auto-response to my wife telling her to take a bath.  So, when I brought in the new printer, the power cord was on the opposite side which immediately initiated a return trip to the store for a new surge protector.  It was then that I discovered that the new printer would not sit neatly on top of my safe because the feet were further out and hung off the side.

At this point, I refused to go shopping for a printer stand knowing I would never find one I really wanted anyway so I went into the shop and within 90 minutes built a very strong printer stand that fit exactly the way I wanted.  The design can be used for a printer stand, a shelf on top of a desk, stacked on top of each other to form a type of bookcase or anything else you may come up with.  The one I built is 19 ½” wide, 17” deep and 15 ½” tall, but, you can make it any size you want to suit your needs.  However, suggest staying under 30” wide to minimize the chance of bowing.  I built mine specifically to hold a wide format printer above my safe.

I started by cutting 1x2s down to the desired length.  I needed 6 uprights, 4 side cross members, and 2 back cross members.  I used 1x4s for the top because that is what I had lying around but you could use any width.  Below is a calculation for cutting based on your desired finished dimensions.

  • 6 pcs. Uprights – 1×2 = desired finished height minus ¾”
  • 4 pcs. Side cross members – 1×2 = desired depth minus 3”
  • 2 pcs Back cross members – 1×2 = desired width minus 4 ½”
  • Top = desired depth divided by width of boards. (one board may have to be ripped, substituted, or left with an overhang.  Cut number of bards to desired finished width.

Once I had all my pieces cut, I glued together my top.  Glue is the only connection I used for the top and I wanted to allow it the most time to dry.  According to the bottle it needed a half hour before I could start working with it again (fig. 1)

fig 1 printer stand by WoodAirGrille

While that was drying, I cut the dowel Holes in the sides of the uprights and the ends of the cross members with a simple doweling jig.  (figs. 2, 3, & 4).  You can use screws and glue for these joints, but I did not want to have to either see the screws or deal with plugs since some of these joints will be visible.

I now simply glue and clamp the frames together.  I used ¼” x 1 ¼” dowels.  Once glued I shoot through the back of the frame into each dowel on either side of the joint to lock it in.  This will hold the joint securely long enough for the glue to dry while I continue to work on the structure. (fig. 5)

fig 5 printer stand by WoodAirGrille

After sanding all of the frames and the top smooth using an orbital sander, I ran a bead of glue along the outer upright of the back frame assembly and clamped the back and side it into position. (fig. 6)

fig 6 printer stand by WoodAirGrille

Then, after predrilling the holes (fig. 7), I secured the back to the side with some 1 ½” wood screws (fig. 8).  The process is repeated for the other side.  I could have used dowels here, however in my application, the back will not bee seen so I went for the speed of screws.

I attached the top in the same way by predrilling the holes (fig. 9) and securing it with a bead of glue and 2” wood screws. (fig. 10)

With a little light sanding to clean p the joints, the printer stand is now ready for your favorite finish or just leave it natural as I did.  (fig. 11)

fig 11 printer stand by WoodAirGrille

 

 

Rod Gunter is the Executive Director at Gunter Building Solutions and has over 20 years of experience in the homebuilding and cabinetry industries.  Rod has been responsible for building over 200 homes above the $500,000 price point.  Rod has trained large groups including all the major home centers on selling skills, construction techniques and sustainable natural wood products.  Rod resides with his family in Holly Springs, North Carolina.  Gunter Building Solutions owns WoodAirGrille.com, a leading producer of wood return air filter grilles and wood return air vents.

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Drill Centering Jig

Drill centering jigs are certainly nothing new.  However, finding one off the shelf for an odd size drill bit can be quite a challenge.  We needed one specifically for a large metric drill bit that had to be dead straight and dead center for our return air filter grille frames.   It had to be substantial enough to endure drilling 25 – 50 holes per day and we needed to be able to see the point of the bit enter the wood due to where the markings are located on the material.  The one thing we had going for us was that it would almost always be used in conjunction with a drill press.  Additionally, we had to be able to account for slight variances in the thickness of the material since the holes were drilled prior to the finish milling stage.  This is what rendered our previous jigs and stops ineffective at maintaining the level of accuracy we needed.

The design we settled on was simple to build and has worked exceptionally well.  Since the entire jig is only 7” long, we use nothing but scraps that were lying around so you could certainly use different materials or sizes based on your needs or what you have available.  We needed to drill 14mm holes 22mm deep into ¾” frame stock.

The key to the jig was the top piece that serves as the drill guide itself.  I used a 3/8” thick x ¾” piece of aluminum bar stock cut to 7”.  I used a press mill, but a drill press vice or a simple stop held down with a C-clamp would due.  The precise center was determined by placing the tip of the bit on the metal, spinning it by hand just enough to make a mark, then rotating the bar stock 180° and making another mark with the tip of the bit until they matched exactly.  (Fig. 1)  Once the 14mm hole was cut, I used a countersink bit to flair the hole so it would be easier to insert the bit when the jig went to work.

The process was repeated for the ¼” holes placed 1” from either end of the aluminum bar stock for the pivot bolts.  (Fig. 2)  I repeated the process again for the 2 clamping members made from 3/4” square aluminum box channel using the top drill guide bar stock as the template for the hole spacing. (Fig 3)  Using the same method, a center hole was cut along with 2 outer holes 3/8” from either end of 2 pieces of ½” square box channel which was cut to a length of 2 ¾”. (Fig 4)

Now that all the components were ready, it was time to modify the hardware and assemble the jig.  (Fig. 5)  I could have tapped the ½” box channel, but I wasn’t confident that it would be strong enough for long term repeated use.  Therefore, the 2 opposite surfaces of a pair of hex nuts were filed down to fit in the box channel.  (Figs. 6 & 7)  Placing washers between all of the pivot points, a pair of ¾” long ¼” hex bolts were used to connect the top drill guide to the center hole in the ½” steel pivot sections with the hex nuts previously inserted.  Four 2” long ¼” hex bolts were used to connect the clamping members to the pivot sections, again using washers at the pivot points.  Two ¼” hex nuts torqued against each other on each bold secure the apparatus together allowing it to pivot without becoming loose.  (Fig. 8)  Nylon insert lock nuts would work just as well or better, but again, I was using what we happened to have around.

Finally, a piece of ½” x 1/8” steel bar stock was bent around a 5/8” bolt to create a finger hook to easily pull the jig tight to the work piece.  (Fig. 9)  It was secured with some self –tapping screws.

The jig has held up well with several hundred holes drilled so far.  It has produced a notable quality improvement due to the jig compensating for variances in the thickness of the wood. (Fig. 10)  The jigs production speed is equal or better than other jigs we have used, particularly when you factor in making adjustments for the inaccuracy of the former methods.

Rod Gunter is General Manager at Gunter Building Solutions and has over 20 years of experience in the homebuilding and cabinetry industries.  Rod has been responsible for building over 200 homes above the $500,000 price point.  Rod has trained large groups including all the major home centers on selling skills, construction techniques and sustainable natural wood products.  Rod resides with his family in Holly Springs, North Carolina.  Gunter Building Solutions owns WoodAirGrille.com, a leading manufacturer of wood return air filter grilles and wood return air vents.

Three Finishing Details Homebuilders Frequently Overlook

Many builders, including myself, have few reservations about improving the basic structure of the house during the building process. The minimal cost of pre-wiring an unfinished space, a little additional sound deadening insulation between walls or a few extra LVLs under the bonus room in case the homeowner ever decides to buy a pool table certainly make for a better house, but go largely unappreciated by the homeowner. Let’s face it, the sales department has a point. If the customer can’t see or touch it, they usually don’t perceive the value and the temperamental fancy shower door will almost always win in the budget meeting.

I confess there have been times when I wanted to put a prospective buyer in his place for commenting to his wife about the cheap doorbell button when walking into a 7,000 square foot brick house built to survive a hurricane with the best of everything including the commercial 6 burner range they will never use. Of course the minor insult to my pride quickly diminishes. Look at what the perspective buyer has to compare against. At some point all of us have walked into one of those big square box shaped houses that boast hardwoods, granite tops and a lot of square footage. However, you walk in the kitchen and the floor is spongy because they didn’t add any extra floor joists to support the weight of all the entry level tile and granite. One of my old sales managers used to always say they are “just putting lipstick on a pig.”

By now, it appears that most quality custom builders have upgraded their doorbell buttons, but when I walk into a house today, there are still things that set off that little “pig with lipstick” alarm in the back of my head.

  1. Return Air Grilles  Frequently located in the main entry way or within the wainscoting in the dining room, it never ceases to surprise me how many high end homes have the same rattling stamped steel return air grilles that you readily find in any low end production built apartment, or mobile home for that matter.  The homeowner is reminded of this every time they dig their fingernails under that stubborn clip to change the filter.  To top it off, nearby is the solid wood supply register neatly molded into the floor.  Why would a builder not put in something more appropriate to elevate the quality of the home.  WoodAirGrille.com offers wood return air filter grilles and wood return air vents that not only have the quality look and feel, but open smoothly like a door to remind the homeowner that no detail went overlooked.
  2. The garage steps    With so many garages being finished with various floor coating and storage systems, you have to chuckle when you climb up those 3 steps built out of leftovers from the deck.  I am not suggesting oak staircases with wrought iron rails, but perhaps putting a few dollars into composite treads will at least show that there was some thought put into it.  The garage steps are the ones that the homeowner is using when bringing armloads of groceries into the house, so if you have the room, perhaps make them wider with nice deep treads.  Give them a solid platform to stand on while trying rotate the knob with their elbow instead of fighting to keep their balance on something that doesn’t feel solid.  Add risers and close the sides so there is no place for dirt to accumulate.  We put wide solid stairs in my parent’s garage with low risers and the difference was dramatic.  What caught me off guard was that it was noticed by nearly everyone who went in and out through the garage.
  3. Wire shelving    It is very surprising how many high end homes are still putting in wire shelving.  It’s not even the nice wire shelving.  It’s the really cheap ones.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are advantages to wire shelving, particularly in certain places, but not in the kitchen pantry, master bedroom and the downstairs coat closet.  This goes back to the perception thing.  There are too many people out there who have seen these pull away from the wall.  It doesn’t matter that it was overloaded or not installed correctly.  “Those fall down” is the perception most remember.

The good news is that these are inexpensive upgrades. They are all geared to avoid the question in the homeowner’s mind “If they skimped on this, what else did they cheap out on?” On the other hand, these are all items that your sales agent can use as selling points that the customer can tangibly see and feel.

Rod Gunter is Operations Manager at Gunter Building Solutions and has over 20 years of experience in the Homebuilding Industry. Rod has been responsible for building over 200 homes above the $500,000 price point. Rod has trained large groups including all the major home centers on selling skills, construction techniques and sustainable natural wood products. Rod resides with his family in Holly Springs, North Carolina. WoodAirGrille.com is owned by Gunter Building Solutions, LLC.