Flue Liner Shelves

The Goal: A better way to manage my yarn bins. It was awkward to get to the bins on the bottom, and when bins are stacked that high they get unstable. Plus, most of my clear bins are cheap, and the lids start to buckle if there is too much weight stacked on top of them.



I was thinking of a large shelf so I could stack bins both under the shelf and on top of it. I needed it to be very sturdy enough to support bins on top and wide enough and tall enough to stack bins underneath.

I had a long board (that lived it’s first life as the side of an entertainment center) that I could use as the top of the shelf. It was the right length and almost the right width (it could have been a bit wider).

My favorite home improvement show is an old one called “Home To Go” and something they’ve used a few times is clay chimney liners (or flue liners). I thought that could make a good base for my shelf.

I did look into buying narrow wooden shelves to put the board across, but I couldn’t find what I wanted in terms of dimensions, sturdiness, and price. There were some that might have worked, but I would need arrange them two deep, or the price was more than the flue liners, or didn’t trust them to be sturdy enough to hold up under the weight.

I could have chosen something solid for the sides, maybe stacked milk crates, but I didn’t want to waste the space. I knew the flue liners would be sturdy enough to hold up to anything I could put on them, and I could use the liners themselves as additional storage.


I special ordered 12″ x 12″ x 24″ flue liners from Menard’s. I did use a measuring tape when ordering, but when I first saw them in person they were bigger than the image in my head. Especially since I bought eight of them.I managed to fit them all in my car – I’m really glad the guy at Menard’s helped me load them. I should have packed some towels or something between them – I winced every time I went over a bump and they all clanked together, but they all made it home fine.

I also didn’t quite realize how heavy they would be. In my mind they were something like terracotta, but really they are more like brick. (They are actually vitrified clay, which is also the preferred material for sewage pipes, because almost nothing will corrode it and it won’t deform much under pressure or temperature.)

Luckily, my apartment has shopping carts and an elevator that goes all the way to the parking area. It still took me four trips to get them all. Once they were in my apartment,  I stuck furniture sliders under them to move them around.


The next challenge (after getting everything home), was how rough the edges were. They would snag my clothes if I even walked near them. Google failed me – I couldn’t find anything online about how to smooth them. Pretty much the only craft use I found was pouring concrete in the bottom of one and turning it into a super-heavy planter.

I tried sand paper, but it just didn’t hold up. Eventually, I found a concrete rub brick. It is used to smooth seams in concrete. It’s essentially a rough brick with a handle, but it worked great to smooth the edges. It still took time and elbow grease (and clay powder everywhere), but I’m happy with the results.


I did a number on the concrete rub brick.


Even with smooth edges, I was worried about the heavy liners rubbing against the walls. So, I put hot glue dots on the edge that would go against the wall. I used the high-temp glue gun, instead of the low-temp ones I usually use for crafts, so the dots would be more durable.


Next step was stacking the liners.


I was a little worried about how stable a stack would be when stacked four tall, but it turned out fine. It rocks a little but if I push on it, but not enough to worry me. (If there would be small children around, I might be more concerned, but storage room isn’t really safe for small children anyway.)


I considered putting shelf liner between the layers, but they don’t slide against each other easily. Plus, it was enough of a pain to get each one lined up with the one below, adding another layer in between, especially one that would further inhibit sliding, would not have helped.


I would have pushed the right stack a bit more towards the center, but there’s an outlet back there I didn’t want to cover up.


I am super happy with how it turned out.


I switched a couple of  the bins, to get matching types. Now I’m excited to go through them and sort all my yarn. I’m even considering doing another to put next to it (I have a lot of bins…).

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