A little over a year ago I was given some lockers…school lockers…that were used for employee storage at the agency I worked at. They were downsizing, the lockers wouldn’t fit in the new space, and I was the lucky recipient.

I’d like to think it was a gesture recognizing the many, many, many, many hours I spent working overtime there.

Nah, it was probably easier for them to have me load them in my truck by myself and get them outta there.

I have a fondness for lockers. I was one of the few that used them at that agency.

Don’t you remember lockers were like your first, very own ‘personal’ space?

You had control of it. It could be messy. You could stash stuff you came across that didn’t (or shouldn’t) make it home for Mom to find.

You know. The sandwich from last week that sucked. The pocket knife you found.

And she couldn’t go through it like your sock drawer.

Or you’d meet your girl there at your locker. Or *gasp* you’d share your locker with a girl. Or talk to a buddy about some girl three lockers down. Or you’d put pictures up in it of your girl.

Or it would just hold your skateboard and a rat bones poster. Like mine did.

Oh, enough. I was building some shelves here.

So I have a bank of three lockers, three high. They’re in the boys’ room and had the potential to hold, well…skateboards, pads, helmets, toy guns, army men, dirty socks, superhero capes, food they didn’t like, one or both of the cats, stinky shoes…y’know…boy’s stuff.

Pretty much the same stuff I use to put in mine at school.

Sans cats.

I’m thinking shelves. So one locker for helmets and pads. One for the costumes of Halloweens-past. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I noticed the lockers had quite a few holes punched from the factory for the many configurations they offer.

It was obvious they were some for shelves, metal shelves, that would be riveted in place.

I didn’t have the time to bend up some metal on the brake, paint it, and the like.

I checked the stockpile™ and found some ¾” MDF.

So MDF is awesome stuff. That’s Medium Density Fibreboard.

I’ve been using it for over 25 years, when you had to special order it from a lumber supplier. Now they have it in big box stores. Even more awesome.

More on MDF in the steps, now back to building shelves.

I needed a way to fasten the shelves. I had a bunch of those shelf pins, or shelf supports, with a hole so you could fasten the support with a screw. The pin fit perfectly in the factory shelf hole. Check.

Now…all together…measure twice, cut once.

And cut only one and test fit it before making a bunch of sawdust.

Speaking of…wear your safety glasses, and most certainly wear a respirator while cutting MDF.

MDF is made from wood pulp and fibers, bound by resins and compressed to form the sheet. When cut the dust is very fine, and combined with the resins, your lungs won’t be happy breathing this stuff.

So the shelf fit,  and I cut a bunch more, roughly 12. So some lockers could have two shelves, some have one shelf. I planned to leave one or two lockers without any shelves, but have the finished shelves stored in case we changed our mind later.

Since the kids will be slamming stuff into them, I thought it would be good to round-over the front of each shelf, top and bottom. This will deflect the impact of the skateboard helmet allowing the back of the locker to take the brunt of the damage and I won’t have to break out my table saw, router…blah, blah, blech again to make some more.

It can “chip” if you hit the edge, but usually splits like the layered biscuits you make from those pressurized cans. So another reason to pull out the router table and a 3/8” round-over bit.

Here's the test shelf ready to be run through the router table. I loaded up a 3/8" round over bit to knock off the front edge of each shelf.

I took the edge off the front of each shelf on the router table, then just scuffed the edges with some 220 sandpaper.

I made a small jig to drill the holes in each shelf. Cause 12 shelves, with 4 holes each is like drilling 700 holes.

Or 48.

Somehow I chose not to photograph the awesome jig I made, but instead took a shot of the drill stop I used. Always pre-drill when using MDF, and I didn’t want to pre-drill all the way through, so this bit collar was attached to my bit for precise depth in all 700 holes.

Again. 48.

Here's the drill bit collar I used to make consistent holes…pre-drilled for the shelf pins.

All that drilling made me want to slack on the finishing. I thought I’d just wax each shelf to repel the decomposing food that will inevitably be left on them.

Plus, I like the look of the raw MDF with wax on them.

You can see the difference the wax makes on the MDF. It leaves a nice natural finish that will be a little greasy at first, but it will soak in and then you buff with a soft cloth. MDF will swell when exposed to moisture, so this will help a bit…but they shouldn't have drinks in their lockers anyway, right?

For each shelf, I attached two shelf pins on one side, saving the remaining two to be fastened in place as I install the shelves.

All done. Kinda industrial with the wood over gray metal.

Well, that’s it. Some locker shelves. In case you have the exact lockers I do and want to do the exact same thing to them.

BTW, I still have every ‘poster’ I put in my lockers. Mostly inside back covers of Thrasher magazine that had a full page ad from Powell Peralta on it.

 

Thanks for coming.

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