Comic Book Storage: Part 1

So, now that Troy's birthday is over, I can finally start to post some of the crafting I've done lately!  Other than painting (and painting, and painting), I've been working on a surprise birthday gift for months (stealth is hard when Troy gets home before me in the evening, and doesn't tend to go out of town with the same regularity that I do). 

Anyway, here's the finished product: a five-drawer super hero themed, IKEA-hack, comic book storage solution (that will hold maybe 30% of the current comic book collection).

The genesis for the project was that Troy had a pretty reasonable storage solution for part of his collection, but that really wasn't enough.  Also, I like themes, and last January (ten months ago), I saw that Marvel Universe Live! was going to be in Charlotte over Troy's birthday weekend.  So, of course I bought those tickets.  Had to.  Spoiler alert: It was adorable.  As such, I was on the lookout for a comic book storage solution.

After a quick and mostly fruitless web search, I determined that the options were to either keep going with comic long boxes, which really lack aesthetic appeal, or pay INSANE (like Taylor Swift in Blank Space) prices for custom file cabinets.  That wasn't going to happen either.  So finally, I stumbled on to this.  And that seemed like something that I could make.

So, after some research, I decided to take the drawers and hardware from two IKEA RAST dressers and pair them with two five-foot side panels.  How hard could that really be?  And that takes us to the first part of the tutorial. 

Dyeing Wood
I'm pretty fanatical about surprises remaining surprises.  So, for that to work, I needed a way to color untreated pine (the natural IKEA state) without Troy knowing that anything was going on.  That ruled out any kind of polyurethane, since the smell would have given me away.  I considered painting, but I knew that his preferences tend more toward natural wood colors than paint, so that was a last resort.

Pinterest came to my rescue.  I've never really considered it, but you can use RIT Dye on wood.  So, I picked up a bottle of dark brown at Hobby Lobby ($3.99), waited until Troy was at Nerd Recess, and tried it out. 

Pretty much all I did was boil 16 cups of water, and dump in the bottle of dye.  Then I mixed it up and started dunking the different pieces of the two IKEA RASTs. 

The wood generally absorbed the dye really well, so I let each piece sit for a minute or two per side, and then took it out and let it dry on a towel (not a nice towel, since the dye is permanent) for 10-15 minutes.  I was able to dye the vast majority (whoops) of the wood from the RAST dressers in approximately two hours (while also cleaning the kitchen).

I was really excited by the results when the wood was still wet (see right).  Pretty color, wood grain intact, super easy to do.  Unfortunately, it didn't dry quite that nicely.

The wood grain remained, but somehow, the rich brown color changed to a dark-but-still-somehow-neon purple.  I don't know how that happened, but it did.

After some colleague consultation, I took a chance and used Minwax Water-Based Wiping Stain in the lightest, yellowest shade I could find.  That was the Oak.  This worked wonderfully (and didn't have much of a smell, which kept the surprise a surprise!) to neutralize the purple tones and bring the wood back to a nice normal brown color.  It was very easy to wipe on, using a cut up old tee shirt, and it dried super quickly (fast enough so that I could almost immediately restack the pieces in my office closet).

Earlier, I said that I dyed the majority of the wood in the first go around.  At that point, I hadn't yet gotten the side pieces.  For those, I went to Home Depot and got a 1" x 12" x 10' common board for $20.34, which they were kind enough to cut in half for me.  This time, I didn't need as much dye, so I used the powdered RIT Dye.  While this didn't dry as purple, there were still some serious purple undertones, so I went ahead and used the wiping stain on those too.  Overall, I used one tube of the wiping stain, but I didn't stain the sides of the drawers (just the fronts and the backs), so that cut down on the need for it.

The final wood color is shown in the last picture, as part of the finished storage solution.  I plan to do two more posts: one on creating the comic knobs, and what will probably be a super long post on actually assembling the final creation (not exactly a fool-proof process, as the case would be).  At the end, I'll list my costs for the whole project, which were less than $175 (a far cry from the $975 base price for the Comic Crypt).  Hope this is helpful for anyone interested in trying something similar!


So, am I the only one who's not fully on board with the long boxes?  What are you guys doing for comic storage?