Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Shelf Time

Last Sunday I declared my boredom. There are so many things I cannot do, compounded by my general ennui these days. Instead of just sitting there, wallowing, I decided to do something, to take on a project which has been bothering me for more than a year.

I want a third shelf in my bathroom alcove. I have this nook at the end of my shower. It is 27" wide. This statistic will become important shortly. In addition I want to move the second shelf upwards by three inches, making the shelf spacing 15" instead of 12". Since the bottom storage area is 30" tall, there will be a certain symmetry in the shelves. The top one will be a 60", that's five feet. It's high enough that using it for limited access is fine, but low enough that I can reach it from the lift function of my power chair.

The start of this project was to remove and re-shim the first shelf. This also includes putting in additional support screws. The reasoning is simple. If I make the shelf space three inches higher, more stuff will be put on the shelf. More stuff equals more weight. More weight requires more supporting screws. The shim part is simply to align the front of the shelves so they don't bump the wall as they slide forward from their recessed position. Yes, these are slide-out shelves.

In order to do the work on shelf one, I had to remove all the towels on the shelf, then remove the shelf itself. Now, in a wheelchair this kind of task presents some substantial challenges. The shelves themselves are roughly two feet wide and over three feet deep. They are not overly heavy, just really, really awkward. They have to be lifted in and out of the drawer rail, a task which is completely beyond me.

So I thought about different ways to handle that shelf. After a variety of failed methods, I ended up using the rolling stand from the bathroom topped by the booster seat that I use to get into my truck, along with a couple of large, heavy books on the top. This made a rolling cradle, wobbly as it was, from which I could move the shelf in and out of its drawer rollers. Once out, I would lift it down to the ground, all the while seated in my wheelchair.

Then came the next challenge. The alcove is 27" wide. My wheelchair is 28" wide. So much for getting in close to things. What I had to do instead was lean in precariously, using various other walls and shelves for bracing, and undo all the screws past the first 12" of the drawer rails. The rear screws, the ones I would never reach, did not need shims. I am thankful for that. So, with all the requisite grunting and straining, something I usually do other places in the bathroom, I managed to get the screws out what needed getting out.

Next came the shims. The first time I did these shelves, I cannot remember who was helping me. At that time I didn't put too much thought into the shims. Even now I think they were fine, but the additional weight requirement was enough to concern me. This time I had made shims which exactly followed the outline of the drawer rail. This would make the shims less obvious. I also split the shims, some on one side and some on the other, further making them less obvious.

When I say "made the shims", I mean hand made them with a wall cutting knife and some thin board material I have left from another project. Each shim takes about half an hour to make. I needed two last night. I will need four over the next two phases of this project, plus a couple of spares for breakage.

Finally I was ready to re-assemble. It took two or three tries to get the shims, shelves, and screws all set properly. Even now there is one screw where the head is at an angle and it is impacting the drawer rail. making the shelf tough to pull. I need to fix that one.

Once I was sure all the shims were set, that I had enough wall anchors in place to support the drawer rails, and all the screws were in, I put the drawer back in. Then I put back all the towels on the first shelf. When you look at it, you can hardly tell I did anything at all. Then again, it was such a simple task that it should have taken about two hours.

For me? I started on Sunday evening, working until 11:00 PM. Then I worked some more yesterday afternoon and evening, finally finishing about 10:00 PM. Two days elapsed with somewhere in the order of 16 hours of effort. For me. For just one shelf adjustment. Fuck, I hate this disease.

No comments:

Post a Comment