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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Storage Solutions: Canned Food Storage and Rotation

After one cuts up a number of large sheets of plywood, over time, one inevitably ends up with a number of scrap pieces too small for anything of use structurally, but too big to throw away. I took a number of such pieces and tried to construct a canned food storage and rotator rack.
"Kitchen counter" testing

This is designed to fit inside the two middle narrow dinette risers. The goal is to maximize can storage while providing a means of rotating the cans such that "first can in" is "first can out". I took a number of designs found on the internet to try and choose an ideal slope for the rails such that the cans would freely roll downhill by gravity. Given the confines of the rack is constant (outer cabinet is already constructed), the rail slope had to be balanced with storage capacity as a steep slope means less storage. What I decided upon, I feel, is a reasonable compromise.
The interior rail structure
The rack will store fifty 4 inch tall, 3 inch diameter cans (typical vegetable can) and twenty-five 3 inch tall, 3 inch diameter cans (typical for small tomato sauce).
75 cans total capacity
Access will be from the side. The bottom can is the first out. Gravity, ideally, will cause all other cans to shift forward. Restocking is done on the same side, at the top. Technically, it is "semi-first in, first out" as there is no access to the "tail" on the top rail. The best I could achieve is stocking the top rail by pushing the cans "uphill". I figure this is ok as, if you wait to top up until the top rail is empty, you are likely stocking with cans of the same age. So, you get the same results as "first-in-first-out".
Test fitting in the dinette riser.
During testing, cans occasionally got stuck due to the shallow slope. Giving the cans a little nudge causes them to fall through due to gravity. I consider this an acceptable compromise. Who knows, maybe the motion of the boat on the water will provide enough agitation such that the cans settle by themselves.
Side access. Restock at the top, pull from the bottom.
As this was my first attempt, and considering the design constraints, I am calling this a success. When my stock of scrap plywood again builds up, a second rack will be built for the adjacent riser box. Then I will tweak things a little bit, but it will be the same design more-or-less.
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