Office desk, shelves and folding doors

New 08Oct2022. Updated 22Dec2023. (But a hook was needed) This note belongs to the HOBBY group.

Long awaited for woodwork!

Desk and shelves


The purpose of this work was to make a one-size-fits-that-room solution for a study & PC & sewing machine table and some shelves. I also wanted to explore whether it was possible to use 15 mm pine for shelfs. It was! I already had made a Thin material wooden cabinet with floppy doors that took thinness almost to an extreme. (But that one has been very functional over the years; nothing is broken.)

Text numbered as in Fig.1

  1. I only use ready planed pine lists directly from the shop. 15 mm * several dimensions. For the very short shelves (photo 6, right) I used 12 mm lists. They are without twigs. The scheme here has been to do one and one list, glue them, remove the extra glue with a wet cloth and then do the next after some hours.
    In this case I used wood glue of type «Gjøco trelim«. It’s white from the bottle but rather stiff and hard, translucent and shiny when hardened. For some reason I decided on the next project to go back the type of wood glue I have always used: Casco «Cascol indoor». It’s easier to wipe off and easier to see after hardening. Which means less undetected surplus glue.
    In the sides I made openings for the box joinery type with the shelves. I really don’t have tools to do this any other way, like cutting these opening after the whole plank has been made. On some of the shelves I use nails with a head that are visible in the front to fit the structure together. They may be removed to flat pack the whole structure. Not that I believe that this is ever going to happen. But it’s a nice design element
  2. The shelves I made the «opposite» way. It’s not as easy as one would think, since the lengths and how far «in» or «out» with respect to the rest of the lists it’s going to be, depends on the glue not sliding half a millimetre one or the other way. I thought it better to leave the parts of the shelves that are visible, less than a millimetre sticking out. The appearance is rather nice, and none are equal. It certainly doesn’t look factory made, if that’s any quality per se
  3. Fitting the sides together also takes some patience
  4. Since I didn’t really treat the shelf as flat packed, here’s how I remove the stepladder from the cellar opening and push the thing up. Mari then often stands on the floor above and lifts and gets the thing into safe a harbour
  5. Fig.4

    I also made a table and drawers and an end part with a plank for the sewing machine. The sewing machine is fastened with a thread to a screw eye hook, so that it won’t fall off by accident. The table is made from 12 mm birch plywood that is reinforced to the double in front and other places. I can safely stand on it. I also made a box underneath from stainless perforated metal sheets, for electrical stuff. The air may pass through easily, for any necessary cooling. Or for the units that you didn’t think needed cooling until it got hotter than you thought without it. I also did not position the table top directly against the wall, but left enough space there to easily let an electrical cable pass. I also made a solution by not making the end part take all «its» space, but left some space for a wire with a power plug to be able to pass by. The table top if fastened to the shelf at a single point that may rotate several millimetres (actually a degree or two), so that the shelf won’t that easily feel its position threatened (?). (Fig.3 is the thumbnail seen in the selection page to get into here)

  6. I also made a shelf above the door, between the two unit shelves. It’s rather airy, made from lists.
    All of this is painted with white oil based paint that I do glaze painting with. I softly rub off the paint after some minutes, with a cloth wetted with white spirit. The structure of the wood is then kept visible

Folding doors


The purpose of this was to not make a permanent cabinet since what’s wrong with all these nice racks and shelves made from metal? One front that covers all, which may be brought along, should my oldest daughter want to move from this apartment. (I once fixed her bathroom just months before she moved into this apartment, so – you know what I mean.) One of the nice rack metallic shelf units being hid here is the shorter one described in A shelf unit from stacked IKEA “Nissafors” utility carts.

Plaster cast of folding doors, PompeiiAnother reason. Sliding doors would have needed a rather solid structure to slide in. Plus, you never get a full opening from them. I also wanted to open all sides, also the short side. The bed was kind of close by, so standard doors were out of question. I mean, not a solution. So this became my first ever encounter with folding doors. But they made them in Pompei on the 1st century AD (left/above), so I am a latecomer.

Text numbered as in Fig.2

  1. I imagined that the most important matter here was to make the sleek doors solid enough to withstand years and years of use. I made them from two 8 mm pine lists glued together. They were to be hinged in a hole in the wooden floor with a 5.6 mm iron rod. So it was important to fasten that rod so that it sat and didn’t tear the door away. This iron rod was not pushing the the door’s weight up into the door, since the door would sit directly on disks on the floor, with all of its weight
  2. I made these aluminium pieces to protect the wood from being torn
  3. Here you can see them mounted
  4. The three doors are shown here. I had to make six to assemble the three double-leaf doors. The panels I made from 4 mm veneer and fastened them with brass nails and tiny screws from model making on the inner side. (My materials science notes) Should the veneer be destroyed it would be possible to make new to replace them, since no glue is used
  5. Two of them are going to align flat with each other, while the rightmost is going to fold around the corner. I soon realised that if the hinges should survive I had to stop the doors’ free movement
  6. I placed the guard stoppers (?) this on the top of the doors. The angular one for the side was the most difficult, but I arrived after some trial and error. This is just a functional matter, but it did more to the design that I kind of liked. But then, whenever I see the result I don’t see that trait, so I guess it’s ok
  7. I had to make several pieces of BOM plastic (see same ref as above) , to use on the floor and on the top of the doors. I also used steel an neodymium magnets
  8. Handles made from leather to pull the doors open, on their middle, became the solution. They shouldn’t get in the way for a dizzy person wondering off her sleep one morning. So anything solid was out of the question
  9. Then the top. It would be hinged up (without a hinge, just hung) in the back and held somewhat restricted on the left side to be sure the doors won’t visit my daughter in her bed. The doors would have their iron rods up into the top and as said, down into the floor. I wanted the top to also be as light as possible
  10. The top from the visible underside
  11. When mounting the top and the doors I made a plumb-line to align the top holes with the places to bore in the floor. This was tricky, but it turned out fine. The mechanism has enough friction to counter any small error that I cannot have escaped. Just waiting for that pendulum to stop!
  12. With all doors half open you see the guard stoppers easily
  13. Pushing the doors into being held in closed position is most easily done with a toe. Not a dirty shoe, I hope. Then the stopping position and the neodymium magnets do their job ok. If I were to do it again I would have used a magnet tape all along the bottom on the inside. Getting the rightmost one with the bending is also tricky. But she stopped complaining after I had taught her the trick with one hand on the door and and a small push with a toe
  14. The leftmost door as open shouldn’t build more than a few centimetres to make it possible for the drawers to be pulled out. Even worse, the door should not in any way hinder the drawer or become worm by them. It seems like it’s ok

A drawing

I most often do some kind of drawing of the things I make. Mostly by hand. However, this one was rather difficult, since it took some detailing to understand the next detail level. The words are in Norwegian, but the lines and circles are rather international, I hope. If you have come this far in your reading, you would have skipped any words and gone directly to the drawing.  I think I did it (almost?) like this. PDF here. Remember that PDFs may contain  vector graphics, scalable to any level of your liking. This PDF does, since it’s generated by macOS Pages, with drawings done by me. I wish I’d had known a 3D vector graphics editor, but I have kept them at arm’s distance for fear that using any of those, rather seldom – would eat too much of my time.

But a hook was needed

Fig.6 – The doors needed a firm cabin hook latch

After a year I finally realised that using magnets alone was not enough to keep these floppy doors collected. Even if I did make my best to design and make them not twist, the usage in a sleeping room with the window open at night didn’t exactly help along that line.

Instead of more magnets, I kept the once I had, and made a cabin hook latch (or hook and staple gate latch). Adding more magnets I though would only be more places on the doors to keep tidy and nice by having to, puh, have to push both here and there an ohh, I forgot even there – and there.

But the knob went. My daughter said she didn’t use it, she only pulled in the leather pieces on the middle to open, and pushed the whole structure to close them. Plus a foot to also push them onto the small ramps I made on the floor, for the doors not to become crooked.


Stikkord: kontorpult, hyller og foldedører