The Truth About Plastic Shelving

My stained glass studio is perfect. I have my re-purposed kitchen island to cut, assemble, and solder wee pieces of glass together to make a panel. I have some new IKEA cabinetry on the wall for handy storage of various tools, supplies and the all essential gee-gaws needed for quality craftsmanship. I have the trusty grinder on a sturdy bench for shaping said wee pieces of glass. There’s the all-important glass saw (an amazing power tool) for otherwise impossible cuts standing by on another shelf. I have task lighting, overhead lighting, and a light table (for shining thru dark glass). It has it all. Almost.

Have you ever heard the saying a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? My studio is made up of many links, most of them are as strong as any self respecting chain could ask for. However, the crucial element that without which my stained glass studio would not exist, is severely lacking in strong. It’s the shelving that (barely) holds the actual glass I use.

It’s the right color (a coordinating plastic-y black that matches the rooms’ trim), it’s tall enough to hold a bunch of anything, it’s wide enough to fill the intended space, and it is indeed a shelving unit. But that’s where my love affair with it ends. Sure, it was inexpensive, readily available at the local Dollar Store (when I needed it most) and has stored what I put on it, but flimsy? I’ll say! The shelves immediately got that old horse “swayback” look as soon as I loaded it with glass. It was rated (on the box) at 200 pounds per shelf, but I think 200lb and 20lb got lost in (Chinese) translation.

The sagmaster sagging under a minimal load of glass. Bummer.

Enter the manliest of master shelf builders. He was bored for a project, & I was fed up with the lean, wobble and sag the of el cheapo plastic shelf. One polite suggestion from me and he was off to the Pipe and Iron Warehouse with a list of materials. He came home with 40 linear feet of thick, two inch angle iron and flat iron, some industrial strength casters (making it portable for my redecorating pleasure) and some hefty wood 2x6s for the actual shelves themselves.  I could tell as we were unloading the materials that this was to be no ordinary shelf.

No cheezy thin fake wood for this shelf!

And I was right. Over the course of a weekend he designed, re-designed, chop-sawed (at one point we had to go to town and get a new chop saw), plasma torch cut, welded, ground welds, drilled, welded some more, measured some more, squared things up a bit, cut boards, drilled more holes, drank a beer, ground some more welds, watched the Little League World Series, ate Bar Be Que, bolted things together, sanded, spray painted, and finished the finest shelf known to mankind. All for me.

It is a shelf of Colossal strength and outrageous good looks. It is a Titan among shelves. In fact, if the good ship Titanic would have had my shelf roped to it’s side for iceberg protection, it would still be afloat today (the ship not the shelf) instead of being a mysterious underwater monument to human pride.

My veels! I can move my veels! (sorry about the Lame RHPS reference)

My shelf was built along the lines of the Widda Maker, heavy (190 pounds!), solid, sexy. But with one big difference… my shelf (I think I’ll name it Colossus) is not out to kill me (like said Widda Maker). Not yet anyway. It has four wheels instead of two, and has a relatively light duty job compared to what it was built to handle (and anvil collection maybe?). Over time Colossus might start to resent me for pampering it with a measly 200 pounds of pretty, shiny, girly, colored glass and then who knows what might happen. Especially since it has had a few days to compare notes with the Widda Maker out in the Man Cave before being wheeled into the air conditioned comfort of the Nice Lady’s stained glass studio. I hope it ignores that nasty Widda Maker & realizes just how good life is for a shelf in my world.


Last night I retired the el cheapo Chinese plastic swagdog from the studio. I painstakingly unloaded everything from its flimsy swaying shelves in anticipation of the arrival of Colossus. It was an enlightening experience. I found glass sheets I forgot I had ordered. I found glass sheets I thought I had long since used. I found glass remnants I thought I had stored elsewhere. I found tacky colored glass sheets I was ashamed to own. I found delightful glass sheets of many gorgeous colors. I was instantly inspired to create huge Church Cathedral windows (if I could only get that commission!). I found long lost grinder heads and copper foil tape under long lost paper patterns. I found some sketches my Mom drew for me ages ago that I never turned into windows. I found a popping cork my Dad gave me and cried in memory of a long ago fishing trip. It’s odd how a good a shelf or closet cleaning can bring out so many emotions. And that was just the top shelf!!

Anyway, I had glass stacked and leaning on every available surface of the studio. It was on top of  my work bench (and smothering a current project), the washer, dryer (and folded laundry thereon), the toilet seat, and leaning against the walls on the floor. The room had gone from an adorably cluttered yet organized space to a gauntlet of skin slicing danger. There were sharp pointy glass edges at every turn. The cats wouldn’t enter, my husband couldn’t use the toilet (on account of the blue glass inventory stacked on its’ lid) and worst of all, I couldn’t create! It gave me nightmares of the goriest variety.

Sheets of glass smothering my latest project.

But that was last night. Today during my lunch hour we wheeled Colossus into his new place of residency (with a little help from the Widda Maker) and I loaded his burly shelves with my colorful horde of razor sharp beauty. Not a sag, sway, shudder, pop, crack, groan, lean or other sign of stress was evident.

Colossus, the perfect shelf!

I love Colossus and want a house full of his children. I hope the hubby reads this post!


© Copyright 2012 Leegay, All rights Reserved. Written For: Truth In Decorating

About Leegay

My husband and I live in the Texas Hill Country with a herd of animals and a million projects. We wouldn't have it any other way. Although being a big lottery winner might not be so bad.
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