Plastic Shoe Box Organizer Rack

This was a last minute project I decided to make for my mother for Christmas. She makes a lot of items with yarn so the objective was to make a storage solution with some plastic containers. While these are going to be used for yarn you could really use this project and these containers for just about anything you need to store. Assuming that the weight isn’t too heavy.

The design criteria for the build was to make something that was able to break down easily. For that I used dados and screws. No glue on this project. It also had to be light weight. A central structural support with arms would be lighter than a structure with a left and a right side. Each bin needed to be removed individually which means the bins can’t stack directly on top of one another. And finally the entire structure needs to be mobile. Because the structure will be centralized a single handle on the top of the project should allow for easy movement.

The storage containers I am using are plastic shoe boxes that can be found at a dollar store. I actually picked these up at Wal-Mart for $1 each. Two stacks of five form the initial shape of the project.

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Because this was a last minute project I didn’t have time to glue up a panel and I really didn’t want to use plywood for this. So I purchased a 3/4” thick by 16” x 36” paint grade project panel for the main vertical structure.

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The project panel was the only piece of wood I wanted to purchase for this. For the legs I used scrap 2×4 material.

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The 2×4 material needed a dado to accept the project panel. For that I used my exact width dado jig and my router. This will give me a perfect dado every time.

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Once the width is set on the jig you just need to line up the zero clearance platforms with reference marks on the material you want to cut a dado in.

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And from there the router does the work. The router will reference along the fences and create a perfect width dado.

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The 2×4 material is a bit on the bulky side for this application so I trimmed it down. I used a can to mark a radius on the top corners and cut a slot out of the bottom middle so that the ends of the 2×4’s form feet. All of these cuts were made on my bandsaw.

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My intention was to use my original belt sander platform to smooth out all of the bandsaw cuts but somehow or another the MDF platform and particle board table I was using previously got wet and fell apart. So I threw belt sander platform #2 together in about 10 minutes. I made this one hook up to my ShopVac though. This version is much more compact than the other and has the sanding belt in the horizontal position which I seem to like a lot more.

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With the feet cut and sanded I tested them out on the panel. They fit like a glove. No problems there.

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On to the branches that will support the shoe boxes. These were to be made from 1x material. I used one 8′ 1×4 furring strip for all of these.

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The process was the same for the branches. Route a dado, cut a radius on the corners, and cut a slot on the top side for the shoe boxes to sit in. Then I could sand them all smooth with the belt sander platform.

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The dados are what make this project possible. With the project panel fitting into the dados on the branches it prevents the branches from rotating. All that is left to do is predrill and drive one screw per branch to secure it.

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And the other side is done the same way.

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After a quick rough assembly I could verify all the dimensions worked out great. I was also able to see how much room I had for a handle on the top of the project panel.

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I used a piece of plastic to draw an arc near the top and offset a couple arcs below that to form the handle hole. A forstner bit was used to create the ends of the handle

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I used to hate using my jigsaw until I found out how much not only using a decent jigsaw but also using decent blades makes a HUGE difference. That being said, I used my jigsaw to cut the interior arcs to form the handle.

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And while I was at it I cut the top arc as well.

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Of course the cuts had to be smoothed out. This ten minute belt sander platform was a huge help for this project.

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Another previous shop project that really helped out was my sliding moxon vise. It held the panel perfectly and allowed me to file down the interior of the handle slot. This moxon vise is by far my favorite shop project I have ever made. It’s just so useful.

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Once everything was smooth I used a round over bit in my router to soften the edges of the handle and the top arc.

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After sanding all of the router burn marks off I applied my finish. I wanted to experiment with this one a bit so I used Tudor Brown Briwax. That’s it. Just a wax finish. I’m absolutely thrilled with the way it looks. This project will be used and probably abused so a soft wax finish will bend with any dents and dings that this may get.

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And after a final assembly I’m pleasantly pleased with the results. All of the design criteria has been met and the finished project looks better than I had thought it would. Like I said these will be used to store yarn but you could really use this design for just about anything. I don’t have a step by step plan for this but I do have a set of dimensioned diagrams that you can download for free. Just click here. If you found this project useful I’d love for you to share it on your social media platform. Finally, I’ll leave you with a random screenshot of me looking like I’m waving goodbye. Thanks for stopping by folks and have a great day.

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29 Comments

  1. Don Joyner

    This is SO cool. I use these boxes a lot in my shop. I’m thinking I’ll beef up the arms (hardware is probably heavier than yarn) and cut out some of the middle of the center panel to reduce weight. Thanks for the idea!

    1. Jay Bates

      You’re very welcome Don. I originally intended to remove material out of the middle but ended up passing on the idea as I thought it would weaken the lightweight panel too much.

  2. Dorald Keefer

    Another great build, Jay. I always enjoy your videos, especially looking for your Logo placement in them. Reminds me of when my son was little, we use to look for Lowlie worm in his Richard Scarry books.

    Do you ever get feedback on them about how you should have done it this way or that way or that cut was unsafe or crap like that???

    1. Jay Bates

      Thanks for the feedback Dorald. I grew up looking for Waldo or looking at those magazine pages to “find 10 wooden spoons” or whatever else they hid. Fun times. Yes, people tell me all the time I should have done things differently. It’s just part of putting your content out there.

  3. Mikey Mac

    Great build gives me ideas for storage for my wife, my daughter, and in my shop the uses are endless.

  4. Barry Norman

    Great project Jay. Love the finish it does give it an oldie worldy look. As you say could have many applications for other uses.

      1. DAN GRADY

        I do the same thing, Jay. There is no point in having your table saw blade any higher than absolutely necessary. I keep it just high enough to clear the wood I am cutting. I feel so much safer that way. I will also normally cut the power off with my free hand JUST BEFORE the blade cuts all the way through the wood. I feel that last second or two is the most dangerous, so I want the blade slowing down just as it exits the cut.

  5. Derek Ubee

    Hi Jay
    Another great idea, well made and very well described. One request could you include the appox time it takes you to make an item. I follow your videos with interest but being disabled can only attempt some of the shorter projects. Keep up the good work and have a very happy Christmas
    Regards
    Derek

    1. Jay Bates

      The build time depends on a lot of things and regardless of what time I say it takes it can probably be done a little quicker as most people won’t have to worry about the camera work.

  6. Mom

    I cannot express to you enough on how much I love this. I cannot wait to get it here and start using it. As far as the finish goes, Im in love with the look. Its beautiful. Best gift ever!! Thank you so much son!!

  7. Elaine Stokes

    Well Jay, your mum loves it. What more could you ask for! Top job, can see many uses for a storage piece like that. Thanks for posting!

  8. Hooker

    Are you thinking of selling these? I am IN LOVE and I want one for my yarn!! I’m so jealous of your Mom!! lol

    1. Jay Bates

      Hello Hooker. I’m not interested in selling them but I have a good friend that would be up for it. Drop me an email if you would like me to get you two in touch.

  9. Jim Graham

    I like your projects and would love to make the storage shoe box rack. My problem is you never give any measurements.

  10. James

    Jay great video, this project is exactly what I need to create storage for my nephews ever growing Lego collection. One question, as I am new to woodworking and am confused. At my local HD, all I can find is 2 ft x 4 ft smooth panel board that is layered like plywood. You have what looks like a slab of solid wood. Should I go to an actual lumber yard to find this “project Panel” because I dont think what I have will work and is quite heavy.

    Thanks!

  11. bob

    Nice project. You have some really nice tools, but what happened to the power cord on the belt sander? Never mind what happened, shouldn’t it get a little TLC before it becomes dangerous?

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