Building A CD Rack!
We love all kinds of music — oldies, country, jazz — you name it. And we love the artists too, from Frank Sinatra to Franz Schubert. What we aren’t so happy with is the storage dilemma created by our music collection. During a recent visit to the local music store we discovered that the price of “store bought” storage libraries for CD’s can easily approach $100 and more. Those that are well made cost a small fortune and the ones that are more affordably priced are made of particle board wrapped in photo-finished contact paper. And they look like they might fall apart before they are completely loaded. Another thing. Almost everything we looked at required assembly. Don’t get us wrong. There are some pretty nice pieces of furniture made to hold CD’s out there. But we decided that it was about time that someone designed a CD storage rack that could hold up to 100 disks and that could be made at home for well under $10. So, we did!
Our rack is essentially a book shelf with solid ends and shelves made with dowels. Also, there is a sliding center panel that is designed to prevent the disk cases from toppling over when the rack is less than completely full. By adjusting the number and location of the dowels the rack can be redesigned to store Beta and VHS tapes.
Although our primary concern was cost, we felt that it was important to use good quality materials. We wanted an end product that would be strong — and yet light weight enough to be portable. We decided to use Knotty Pine for the wood panels but changed our minds when we discovered that we could get scraps of three-quarter-inch plywood at no charge from a local construction site. To make the plywood look like solid wood we simply puttied the edges. In our case this was OK because we intended to paint our rack flat black — a most flaw-forgiving combination of color and luster. For shelving we purchased two four-foot long Fir dowels at a total cost of $3. The three sixteen-inch lengths of 1×8 in Knotty Pine would have cost an additional $4.40. We found that Oak, and other hardwoods cost quite a bit more than Pine. A fifty-cent container of wood glue completed our material list. Our grand total was $3.50 (dowels and glue). Including the panel material in Knotty Pine, we would have spent $7.90 — still well under $10.
The three panels are used as follows: two become end panels and a third is used as a sliding center panel. Four holes are drilled into each of the two end panels. These holes receive the dowel ends which are permanently affixed with glue. For maximum rack strength and the best glued connection, the end panel holes should be the same diameter as the dowel stock. Also, all of the end panel holes should be drilled to the same depth. Finally, it is important NOT to drill all the way through the end panels. In our prototype, we drilled the end panel holes just a hair over one-half-inch deep. This left about a quarter-inch to spare. Conversely, the center panel holes are drilled all the way through. Also, the center panel holes are drilled slightly larger than the diameter of the dowel stock — allowing it to slide easily. If the project will receive an oil finish the four center panel holes should be about one-sixteenth of an inch larger than the dowel material. If the project will be painted the center panel holes should be about one-eighth of an inch larger than the dowel material. This is because paint takes up space and oil does not.
Although various sizes of dowel stock may be used, we decided on the five-eighths-inch diameter because we wanted an extra sturdy rack. However, half-inch material will work just fine but is the smallest size that we would recommend. By the way the two four-foot dowels are each cut into four pieces of equal length — as it turned out in our case — each was just a bit under two-feet in length.
Placement of the dowels is one of the most important aspects of our design. We invite you to experiment with your own dimensions before you begin your rack. But, be aware that changes can reduce clearances may make the disks difficult — if not impossible — to remove or replace. Note that all dowel measurements in our plan are made to the center of the dowel.
Once assembled our rack is sixteen-inches tall, just a hair over two-feet wide and seven-and-a-half inches deep. Increasing the rack height by eight-inches — to two feet — allows the addition of a third row of dowels expanding its storage capacity to 150 CD’s. The dowel and the two additional feet of panel material will cost about $3.70. The rack design can be altered so that it is narrower or taller or both. A narrower design would eliminate the need for a sliding center panel. A taller design may need the addition of a broad base plate to insure lateral stability.
To make a fancier rack, increase the height of the end panels so that they end eight inches above the top row of dowels. Then add a top and a back. Wow….fancy, fancy! And, good luck!