Building a Flexi / Flexy Rack
Flexi Racks (sometimes called Flexy Racks) are wonderful things. They can be built
to look like anything you want, in any style you want,
in any any size you want; hence the name flexi. It
was late 2002 when I decided that I needed a flexi
rack. It was shortly after the purchase of a
rear-projection TV, and my old component stand just
wasn't going to cut it. I treked on over to the Home Theater
Forum and did a quick search for flexi rack. I
came up with a
post that had been archived, that gave
me a good starting spot. A friend of mine had also
flexi and was willing to share with me his
pitfalls and accomplishments.
6: 36"x16" bull nosed MDF (available at Home Depot), cut to 24"
4: 3'x5/8" coarse threaded rods (available at McMaster-Carr P/N: 98841A035)
1: 50 pack 5/8" hex nut (McMaster-Carr P/N: 90473A233)
1: 10 pack 5/8" acorn nut (McMaster-Carr P/N: 90532A300)
1: 50 pack 5/8" neoprene washer (McMaster-Carr P/N: 90133A056)
1: 50 pack 5/8" flat washer (McMaster-Carr P/N: 98017A215)
1: Can of gold Rustoleum spray paint
1: 4 pack of 5/8" chair feet (picture)
One board was randomly selected to be the 'top board' and marks were made 1.5" from the corners in order to mark where the poles where going to go. After the marks were made, the boards were clamped together using several 'Quick-Grips'. At this point, I was wishing that I had a drill press. I had to use a hand-drill, and it is near impossible to drill straight through 4" of wood. Knowing that, I decided to drill the holes at 7/16" instead of the 5/8" size of the threaded rods. The extra 1/6" space was then dealt with during assembly by securly tightening the nuts. This method proved very useful, as even with the larger holes, fitting the rods through all 5 shelves provided a challenge.
With all the holes drilled, it was time to 'dry fit' the assembly. I only used 3 of the 5 shelves at this point, because even with the coarse threaded rods, threading all of the nuts was more work than I really wanted to do. I also did not put the neoprene washers on at this time, because it was merely a quick fit. Once I was satisfied everything would work, I took the whole thing apart and got ready for finishing.
Finishing of the hardware was done by laying out all of the washers and nuts on a piece of cardboard, spraying them with the spray paint, letting them dry, flipping them over and repeating. It is important to not apply too much paint on the inside of the nuts, as it makes threading them onto the rods difficult. The rods were painted by standing them up in a scrap piece of wood and spraying them. This allowed coverage of all sides at once, and prevented the rods from rolling away. Once they were dry, they were flipped in order to get the very tips of the rods. With painting the rods, I spent a a lot of time ensuring that the paint was uniform, but not on too thick. Applying too thick will cause the paint to flake off when threading the nuts on it. Applying too thin causes the underlying silver to show through.
Most of the people who I had seen doing flexi-racks before spray painted the shelves in a acrylic black and then used a marbalizing kit, available at a hobby store to add character. While this method looks very good, it wasn't what I was going for. Lucky for me I had a friend who was willing to apply a piano black finish to the boards, using a polyester finish (the same kind that actually goes on pianos). I sent the boards away (after paying a fortune in shipping) and waited 3 weeks. Fortunately, the person doing the finishing of the boards has a digital camera, and took pictures along the way. The boards came back better than I had hoped for, and I began to do the final assembly.
Final assembly of the unit took about 2 hours once I got everything prepared. I began by threading a nut to about the center of each rod, followed by a flat washer, and a neoprene washer. I then put a shelf in place, and added the 3 items in reverse order (neoprene washer next to the wood, followed by a flat washer, and a nut). The board was leveled first by tape measure on the four legs from the floor, and more precisly by using a level. Everything was tightened down using a cresent wrench. I personally wrapped a cloth around the nut I was tightening in order to avoid scratching it. I ended up putting holes in a few rags, but it was better than repainting after aseembly. It is vitally important to get the nuts tight, because the holes are bigger than the rods. The neoprene washers help here, as they prevent the washers from scratching the wood/paint. The top shelf had acorn nuts placed on the rod instead of the standard hex nuts for asesthetic reasons, and to prevent my from stabbing myself on the threaded rod.
The key point in assembly is that for each shelf there is:
* Flat Washer
* Neoprene Washer
* MDF Board
* Neoprene Washer
* Flat Washer
The easiest part of the project is putting the items on the rack. Here's mine: