Introduction: Reclaimed Modern Shelf W/ Thermoformed Corian
Here's how to make this "Reclaimed Modern" Floating Shelf I created out of reclaimed wood and scrap Corian. Using a process called "thermoforming," I shaped the Corian and fit the pine shelving to it for a sleek form with loads of character!
- strips of 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick reclaimed wood more than 5 inches wide by a whatever length you'd like the shelf to be, up to about 28 inches
- Corian of a matching thickness to your wood at a width more than 5 inches and a length enough to get a nice curve out of (at least 12 inches)
- steel carpenter's nails about 1 1/2 inches long
- drill with a bit the width of the nails' shanks
- 2 wood/drywall screws about 1 1/4 inches or 1 1/2 inches long
- drill bit slightly wider than the screws' shanks
- hacksaw or other metal cutting tool
- tablesaw or any saw capable of cutting wood into strips and at 90 degrees
- wooden form (screw some scrap wood together and shape it into a half round shape, the diameter of this is the height of your shelf
- oven capable of reaching 350 degrees F (176 C)
- small 1/4 inch chisel or a dremel with a v-shaped grinding bit
- 2 part, 5 minute epoxy
- oven mitts
- strong masking tape
- sandpaper/hand plane/ratchet straps - optional
- belt sander, or anything capable of sanding a surface flat. Rasps and Block planes could works as well.
Step 1: Prep the Materials
- If your Corian is salvaged, sand out any scratches by using 80 grit, then 120 grit, then 220 grit sandpaper. If it's new, don't bother.
- If your wood is thicker than the Corian, plane or sand it down to the same thickness
Step 2: Cut Materials to Size
- Use a tablesaw or any capable saw to cut the wood and corian into 5 inch wide strips.
- Measure the outside curve length of your wooden form, and cut the Corian to that length plus two inches
- cut the wood to whatever you want the length of the shelf to be, minus double the radius of your curve and the thickness of your Corian. So if you wanted a 26 inch long shelf, and had 3/4 inch thick Corian, and a curve radius of 3 inches, you would cut the wood to 18 1/2 inches long. [ 26 - (.75 + 3)2=18.5 ] Or you can just eyeball it. Honestly, I just eyeballed it.
Step 3: Thermoforming the Corian
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and put the Corian in there on a baking sheet or ovenproof tray. (You don't need to put the form in there, I did to be sure but it isn't necessary)
- Let the Corian heat up for as long as it takes to be flexible. This varies, but at 350 with 3/4 inch Corian, it took me a good hour to get it to the right temperature. Different thicknesses of Corian will vary
- Remove the Corian and flex it over your mold, using OVEN MITTS. This piece of plastic is EXTREMELY HOT at this point. I can't warn you enough that it it very and extremely hot and not to touch it.
- Use clamps to hold it over your mold until it cools. Make sure the flat ends up the Corian are as parallel as you can get them
- Let the Corian cool off until it can be handled comfortable and has regained it's hardness
- remove the clamps and the Corian from the form.
Step 4: Shape the Corian
- If your Corian came out a little bit crooked, like mine did, you can use a belt sander, rasps, or even sandpaper on a hard, flat surface to flatten and square the edges and bring them to the same length. This is where you will be attaching your boards, so it is important to get them to a straight 90 degree angle.
Step 5: Prep the Nails
These nails are going to act like posts for bridging the two dissimilar materials together and adding strength to the joint.
- use a hacksaw or other capable tool to cut the heads off of 4 of the nails
- round off any rough or dangling edges with some sandpaper
Step 6: Joining the Parts
- Using the drill bit the width of your nail shanks, drill two holes in the flat edges of the Corian, about 3/4 of an inch deep, and spaced about 1/3 of the way in from each side. You should have 4 holes in each piece.
- for each hole, mix up some two part epoxy and add it to the flat side of a cut-off nail, then insert that end into the hole
- tap the nail in with a hammer if needed
- when the epoxy has cured, orient the wood planks so they line up, end to end, with the Corian curve's edges, in so that makes a big, closed loop
- press the ends of the nails into the ends of the wood, leaving an impression
- drill holes into the ends of the wood where you made the marks, with the same drill bit you used on the Corian, to the same depth
- mix up more 2 part epoxy, and add it to the holes in the wood, as well as the edges of the corian and the wood
- line up all the pieces into their final locations, squeeze them all together
-using clamps and ratchet straps if you have them, squeeze the whole loop together and line it up properly.
- Clamp the piece together in the best way you can, you can use rope around the outside, or old belts, even strong masking tape can help.
Step 7: Flush Everything Up
- I used a hand plane to make sure all the surfaces and joints were even, You could also use sandpaper or chisels.
- fill any gaps between the Corian and wood with a mixture of sawdust and superglue
- final sand to your preferred grit. I left the reclaimed wood rough and unfinished, and sanded the Corian up to 350 grit
Step 8: Mounting System
- Determine where you want hang the piece, and where the screws need to be
- tightly clamp a piece of scrap wood to the back underside of the top shelf
- use the drill bit the size of your screw shank to drill a hole 1/2 inch into the seam between the scrap wood and the shelf so it goes halfway into each, making a groove in each.
- remove the scrap wood and clamp and use the chisels or dremel bit to carve out a spot for the screw heads you are going to use.
- test to see if the screw falls most of the way into the slot you've carved. This will keep it relatively hidden when mounted.
Step 9: Mount, Decorate, and Enjoy!
- put the screws into the wall where you want the shelf at the same distance from each other as you made the grooves.
- Drive the screws into the wall, using any necessary anchors for the type of wall. Leave each screw sticking out from the wall as far as it takes for them to fit neatly into the carved grooves for them
- hang the shelf on the screws
- decorate and prepare to receive compliments!
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