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Size of shelves for flexy rack?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by MichaelDDD, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    After almost a year, I'm finally getting around to building a flexy rack for my gear. (Life has a funny way of delaying our little projects, doesn't it? [​IMG] )

    I'm thinking of 22"w x 18"d. Haven't decided on 5/8 or 3/4" allthread yet. The rack will be 4 feet tall, 5 or 6 shelves. Oh, the shelves will be 1.5" thick. Two 3/4" pieces of MDF laminated together. I build'em to last forever.

    Thanks in advance for your input. [​IMG]

    ps
    I searched on "rack" and "flexy" and found tons of links but only ONE reference to the actual SIZE of the shelf
     
  2. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    Michael,
    Here is my $0.02:

    22" is just right if you leave 1/2" or so between the holes and the edge of the shelves. A 19" component faceplace will fit (barely) between the allthread. 18" deep is also fine. Not many components are that deep, but if you've got the space, go for it.

    1-1/2" shelves is overkill, but again, if you've got the height to deal with, what the heck. Make sure you leave adequate clearance above components (2" for most gear, 4" for receivers or power amps). The rack will be quite heavy.

    Oh, and build a shelf or two more than you think you need. You'll be surprised at the equipment you collect over the years. I'm up to 13 in my theater system: pre-pro, DVD player, VCR, AM/FM tuner, HDTV tuner, Active crossover, video scaler, and five power amplifiers.

    How do you plan to finish the shelves?
     
  3. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your two cents; it's worth at least a dollar to me!!! [​IMG]

    So, 22" is barely wide enough? Hmm. I may go with 23 or 24" then. I know my Denon 3803 is 18" wide and I plan on building a HTPC...not sure how wide those cases are...I guess I should check, huh?

    Well, that's what these "preliminary" type threads are for, right?

    I know the 1.5" shelves are overkill, but for some reason, 3/4" shelves make me nervous when putting a 50 pound receiver on them.

    I plan on finishing the shelves the same way as I did my speaker stands so they will match (I'll post a pic of the stand later...) Basically, using a 45-degree bit on all the edges of the shelves, top and bottom. Black, semi-gloss paint, several coats. Nothing special, really.

    I will definitely look into the width thing, though. Aside from the HTPC which I havent' built yet, all my components are currently 18" and under...but future-wise, who knows?

    Thanks again.
     
  4. RobertMc

    RobertMc Agent

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    Michael

    Here's my $0.02 worth as well,

    The wider you make your shelves, the more you will have to consider the thickness of the MDF. I see you have looked at my finished flexy (thanks for the compliments BTW:b ) and you probably noted that my shelves were 22" wide. This was the widest I could go because I needed the rack to slip in between the TV and the RH speaker. I am happy with the width because all equipment fits in easily and it doesn't look too sloppy or bare.

    Also, with the rack having 4 supports of all thread, it means that the shelf is supported at 4 points. With the equipment fitting snugly, it means that the feet of the components, like the Receiver, are towards the edges of the shelf, close to where the shelf is anchored by the nuts and washers. This means that there is very little pressure on the centre of the board, which over time, would possibly cause it to bow. That is something to be considered with a wider shelf, becuase the equipment wouldn't be as close to the supporting legs, so a thicker MDF would be required for the same rigidity.

    For what it's worth, I would possibly identify how many shelves you will have, idenify the number that will have to take heavy equipment (Receivers, Amps etc) and then make 1-1/2" shelves for those if you want to. IMO, Other shelves for components like your DVD player (fairly lightweight) and playstation, VCR, STB,D-CBL etc, would be fine at 3/4" thickness, depending on the overall width.

    Rob.
     
  5. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, RobertMc

    Yep, your rack is snazzy. Really dug your cable management solution. Simple, effective and FREE. No additional velcro/etc necessary.

    Good point about the feet of the components being nearer the edges of the boards where the all-thread is as opposed to in the middle.

    Aesthetically speaking, I couldn't deal with having shelves of differing thicknesses in my rack; IMO it's ugly and it would drive me nuts. But that's just me. [​IMG]

    I may go with a 23" width, just to be sure I've got enough "wiggle room" there.

    I checked on the dimensions of the case I'm getting for my HTPC. linkage and it's 17" wide, so it would fit with no problem.

    Oh, for now, I've only got two heavy components: the receiver and my Panamax 5100 power center. Everything else is lightweight. (DVD/VCR/DBS/Playstation) The receiver will be going on either the bottom or one up from the bottom shelf. Might put the power center on the bottom. Don't know yet.

    I'm building the rack with 1.5" shelves to build in some future proofing. Should I decided to get a separate 7-channel power amp down the road, i don't want to have to rebuild the rack. [​IMG]
     
  6. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    The shelves in the rack will be the same thickness as the base and pedestal of my speaker stands. I plan on finishing them the same as well. Same color, same shaped edges. The shape of the edges may change, but it would be cool if the rack and stands matched. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. RobertMc

    RobertMc Agent

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    Michael

    I'm with you on the asthetics of different width shelves - I wouldn't do it myself!

    In OZ, MDF comes in a good range of thicknesses. I used 16mm on my flexy, but I could just have easily used 18mm or 25mm (1") for it. I presume that you would have access to these as well where you are - maybe more? Just thinking that laminating two boards together is more work that using one pre-manufactured board.

    I like your speaker stands too - good photos.[​IMG]
     
  8. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, Rob. IMO, I didn't do too badly for my first try. I've made tons of sub boxes for cars and such, so I've got some basic woodworking skills and that helps.

    I could've finished the edges better on the stands; some putty and sanding on the routered edges would've went a long way, but these stands were four months in the making (work...work, work, work, work and more work...gotta eat!) and I was just TIRED of looking at the unfinshed parts. I gave them a good sand, blew the dust off w/compressed air and hit'em with the spray cans!!!

    OK, anyway. Unfortunately, 1" MDF isn't readily available in Nebraska, or Texas for that matter. Just moved from TX back in April. I miss it. Anyway, that's why I'm going with the two 3/4" boards laminated together. It really only adds a day to the construction.

    - Cut boards to rough size
    - Slather glue on both
    - Press together and clamp the snot out of them
    - Wipe said snot off the edges with rag
    - Leave overnight, cut to size the next day
    - Cut wire management holes from idea stolen from Rob [​IMG]
    - Router the edges
    - Putty the edges and leave overnight
     
  9. RodN

    RodN Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Michael,

    Thicker is better if you ask me, good move [​IMG]

    I used 2 18mm sheets laminated making 36mm (almost 1.5 inches thick) per shelf - why the hell not, MDF is cheap enough. Because it's solid there is no chance of vibration from things like your HTPC to work their way up to things like your dvd player (also thanks to rubber washers and overall weight). I noticed a big improvement in sound, maybe it's because the whole unit is so damned heavy, I put it on the bathroom scales, 35 kilos (more than 70 pounds). It really makes the setup look classy too.

    Here's a few pics: at my build page

    Just make it as wide as you need it to fit the stuff in, plus a little bit extra. Be prepared to do some heavy planing/routing/cutting, stuff that thick tends to use up your bits.

    Hey Robert, where's the link to your rack? I'd like to see your cable idea.
     
  10. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Hi RodN,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence on the thickness of the shelves; I've always believed that "overkill is good." Why find later that one/two of the shelves you spent a week painting and sanding is bowing and now I've got to build them again?

    Wow, that's YOUR rack with the solid wood top? I REALLY like the look of that. I saw your rack when I did a search on "flexy" and was impressed. There's an air of "indestructibleness" that comes from having shelves so thick, you know?

    Link to Rob's Rack

    Check out the holes at the rear of the shelves. I've no idea how I'm going to get 2-3" holes drilled in 1.5" of MDF. I have hole saws, but they aren't going to go thru that much wood. MDF eats bits for lunch, too. I wonder if they make spade bits that big? I'm sure they do...but Home Depot doesn't carry them, I don't think.

    Drilling the holes in each piece of wood THEN gluing them together is a bad idea...the holes won't line up. Hmm; I've got some thinking to do!

    If anyone's got an answer for this little quandry, please shout it out!
     
  11. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    Michael,
    As far as the holes, I would use a hole saw. You can get "deep" blades that will do 1-1/2". A lot of these are used by plumbers and electricians for putting holes in framing lumber (typically 1-1/2" thick). Yes, the blades will dull quickly, but you should be able to do enough holes for a few "flexys". This is a quick job for a decent hole saw in a beefy drill press. Go slowly and back off to blow out the dust occasionally to prevent burning.

    An alternative is a router with a jig, like a Jasper jig. This will just take many passes because you can only go 1/4" or so with each pass.
     
  12. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Well, I've got the solution to the "hole problem" figured out.

    I'm lucky enough to have access to a woodshop with a 1" chuck, industrial drill press. They also have a 2" Forstner bit. [​IMG] No problem with a mere 1.5" of MDF. I'll just take it slow, that's all.

    I begin rough cutting and laminating the boards together, tomorrow!!! [​IMG]
     
  13. RobertMc

    RobertMc Agent

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    Hey Michael

    Glad to hear you are getting close to starting your rack.

    In regards to those holes, the size I chose was 52mm (2") and I based this on the fact that I knew that I needed to be able to pass the plugs of the power cords through them. It turned out that the size was really good and the 'interconnect' path/side, while busy, still has room for more cords yet. As you covered in your other posts, I kept the three holes all of the same diameter for asthetics!

    Rob
     
  14. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, Rob. Aesthetics is everything, as you know! [​IMG]

    The hardest part will be making 7 or 8 completely identical shelves. Gonna have to really measure/line up that first set of three holes...after that it will just be a matter of transferring the measurements and cutting marks to the other boards. [​IMG]
     
  15. RodN

    RodN Stunt Coordinator

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    Those holes are a great idea! Wish I had of though of that when I built mine.

    About your shelves, in Home Theatre, can I suggest that "size DOES matter" ? :wink:
     
  16. Jeff shark

    Jeff shark Extra

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    My flexy rack has 21" square shelves.
    21" wide was just enough, but I only used 5/8" threaded rod.

    I had to make mine so deep because my HK7200 is deeper then normal.

    I like the hole idea for wire management!
    One thought I had when I saw that, what if you used large PVC pipe, painted the same color as the shelves, inbetween the shelf holes....
    most wires would be hidden, although it could be a pain running them up/down/through.


    Edit:
    One other thing, I used 3/4" MDF for my shelves. As stated above, the "feet" of the equipment end up being very close to the edges where your flexy legs are, so there should be little/no flex.
    My 7200 is around 65 lbs I think....it's fine on the 3/4" wood.
     
  17. RobertMc

    RobertMc Agent

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    RodN - Thanks for the compliment on the rack & holes. Yep, the idea came to me in a vision of light and sparkles...or was that because I got up from the couch too quickly?! Anyways, it worked out a treat and looked good too.

    I hear what you are saying about the shelf thickness and SIZE / weight etc. I do appreciate the fact that vibrations do have an effect on equipment performance, however I would contend - just me, mind you - that I perhaps wouldn't hear the difference between a 16mm shelf and a 36mm shelf. That said - it could be because I am suffering a DVD player that sounds like a lawn mower due to an internal vibration that is due for repair...

    In some ways, I kind of feel that depending on the astuteness of the person, their actual hearing capabilities and their depth of passion for the subject, the weight = sound clarity issue is kind of subjective. I'll get shot down in flames for saying that for sure![​IMG]

    Dare I bring up the whole cable quality issue? - sort of the same subjective thing really. In my humble opinion, if YOU think that something sounds better, then it DOES and that is all that matters, regardless of how much it costs etc. Past a certain point, I personally don't subscribe to the whole cable charade at all, though I think that every HT building would agree that the $2 cables that your system is shipped with should be used to tie up the garbage bag.

    I guess it also depends on the quality of your gear too - No?


    Jeff Shark:

    yes, I did actually think of the PVC pipe idea as well when thinking about the cable management and in fact, that was the initial train of thought. Then I thought about painting the PVC, cutting neat holes into it and perhaps most importantly, trying to get a cable into the pipe when it got a little tight...

    For what it's worth, the shelves are deep enough that I can't actually see any of the cables from the seating position in the room, apart from in the empty shelves, which I am hoping won't be empty forever. The black colour helps this I think.

    Rob
     
  18. MichaelDDD

    MichaelDDD Supporting Actor

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    Hi guys,

    PROGESS UPDATE:

    Yesterday I:

    1. Cut the shelves
    2. Drilled all the holes (7 per shelf: 4 for rods and 3 for cable management (shamelessly stolen from RobertMc)
    3. Routered the edges (1/4 round over on both sides)
    4. Sanded them down
    5. Put first coat of primer on


    Not bad for the first day, huh? Tomorrow I may get around to getting another coat of primer on...we'll have to see. Not in a rush by any means.

    I took my time measuring and marking the locations of all the holes. Combine that with the fact I used a drill press for easily repeatable cuts and it turned out GREAT.

    Now the only obstacle is getting the finish right and finding 5/8" acorn nuts! Anyone got four they'd be willing to send me? I'll send ya a couple of bucks if you want. [​IMG]

    ps
    I had to go with 3/4" shelves instead of the 1.5" I orginally had wanted. There's no 6-foot lengths of 5/8" allthread anywhere in the Omaha, NE area and I didn't want to mess w/mailorder. All my gear will fit fine in a 36" tall rack with 3/4" shelves though. I'm not worried about the weight issue anymore due to all the positive comments made by those with 3/4" shelves. [​IMG]



    pps
    2" Forstner bits are the greatest thing since sliced bread!
     

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