Add a Little Vvrroooom to a Kid's Space
Matt Fox combines his interest of toys and cars by building a shelving system that is faced by really cool racing cars, kids-style.
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Folks are always asking my co-host Shari Hiller and me what is our favorite room to decorate. Without even giving it a second thought, I blurt out: Kids' rooms!
Why not? I get a chance to let my imagination go wild. And let's face it: I still like to mess around with all the cool toys.
Now relax. I don't need any therapy. I was able to give up matchbox cars long ago. It's been a good two years now.
Well, not too long ago, I was able to combine my interest of toys and cars by building a shelving system that is faced by really cool racing cars, kids-style.
The shelving system is probably the easiest part of the project, so we'll tackle that first.
The shelving unit is for the corner of a room. Shari and I decided to have three shelves that go from small to large. So we cut three triangular shelves at 16, 18 and 20 inches. Just use 1/2-inch plywood and cut out the boards with a circular saw. The shelves will be installed so that they will go from smaller at the top to larger at the bottom, with a distance of 14 inches between shelves.
To secure the shelves to the wall, I installed cleats by using self-anchoring molleys. The cleats are just 1-x-4-inch pine, with a decorative detail routed along the bottom edge. Use a 1/2-inch-round-over bit.
Now if you don't have a router, no problem. Just soften the edges of the cleat with a light sanding. Cut the cleats to length, matching the size of the shelf, with a 45-degree angle for the corners and 45-degree angle to match the angle of the triangular shelves. Once the cleats are installed to the wall, set the shelves in position and secure from the top by using drywall screws.
The front face plate, to which the cars will attach, is a 1-x-4-inch piece of pine that runs the length of the front of the plywood shelf. But before attaching the facing to the shelf, let's move to the really cool part, building the cars.
The car bodies are made out of 1-x-4-inch pine. Shari drew me up a couple of fun car designs after we spent many grueling hours watching racecar cartoons. The idea is to make your design as fun and kidlike as you can. Don't stress over this; let the kid in you take over. Don't forget to add details like the driver's area and the wheel wells.
Then transfer the design onto newspaper. Cut out the shape by using a pair of scissors, and trace it onto the wood. To cut out the car, use a jigsaw, with a fine scroll blade. After you have made the cuts, sand the body of the car with a 220-grit sandpaper.
For the wheels, use 1/2-inch plywood. The wheels should be recessed inside the wheel well. To do this, trace the wheel well onto the plywood, then complete the wheel freehand, shaping the curve of the wheel. Cut these pieces out using the jigsaw.
For the details around the wheels (really large cartoon fenders) and the driver's area, just draw out simple designs that follow the contour, and cut them out. Attach the smaller pieces to the body of the car using a little wood glue and small brad nails.
For the neat smoke and fire that comes out of the car, I just used thin pieces of luann plywood, free-handing the design.
The painting of the car was left up to the little boy who lived in the room. We used a variety of latex paints that we had left over in the shop. He chose an assortment of wild colors that seem to come alive when you enter the room. Just apply with small brushes, giving each piece several coats of paint.
Finally, attach the cars to the front shelf facing, using small screws driven in from the back of the facing. Then attach the facing to the shelf with countersunk screws. The holes should be spackled over with flush spackle and touched up with paint.
I think you will agree that these neat racecar shelves are a fun project. And if you are like me, you will have a blast coming up with your own designs. Maybe your shelves will be airplanes or trains. Whatever. Have a great time!
(Matt Fox writes this column with Sherri Hiller. They also co-host the Home & Garden Television show Room by Room. For more information, visit www.hgtv.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)
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