12.05. – 22.05.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack tables to floating shelves part 5 final

Eventually I dragged my sorry hide back to the – by now rather annoying – shelves to remedy the mistake I had made. I had to fill the holes from the plugs in the wrong place, smooth it all over and paint it over. I also had to add more screws to the cleat that just wouldn’t want to stay securely attached. But first, I did a more enjoyable and easier bit, which was paste wallpaper leftovers onto the underside of the shelves.

The IKEA Lack tables, as cheap and cheerful as they are, only have coloured coating on the top and sides, not on the underside. So unless you want the holes in the corners and the raw brown of the material, you have to do something about it. What better way than to use the wallpaper. I used PVA that I had left over, to fix the wallpaper.


Rinse and repeat until they are all done. Here’s a shot of all of them happily lying on my bed to dry.

Then it was back to the dreaded wall and the dreaded cleats. After a lot more swearing and despairing, I finally had them all up, several re-strengthened, and all of them in the correct positions. The shelves themselves slid easily onto the cleats.


The DVDs are held in place with acrylic bookends from Ryman online. They are remarkably good quality for their cheap price of £1.99 and they got delivered the very next day. Highly recommendable. The reason why I went for acrylic ones was because I wanted the DVDs themselves to be a feature. DVDs look pretty ugly no matter where you keep them, thus I went the opposite way and made them smack bang visible. :-) No pretence and no attempt to hide them. I don’t have a TV, thus I have a lot of DVDs.

So here’s a fun shot from the bottom up, and one of the still empty shelves with their lovely transparent bookends.


At last! It was time to add my DVDs to the shelves. It’s taken a long time but was worth it. It certainly didn’t cost much at all, only time and creativity. Mr F, my cat, used to have his food bowl in this place, so I made sure I integrated his feeding station from the start. Since I had 7 shelves, I had one left over, and that one has become his feeding platform. He took to it like a big old cat to tuna.


For some reason it looks on the pics as if the shelves weren’t all level, but trust me, they are. The level measure does not lie. Of course, I then found out that I have waaaayyyy too many DVDs, because what you see here on my shelves is just my action movie, war film, and disaster movie collection. Whoops. This forces me to find space in another places, such as the sewing room, but more on that later.

So here they are, my DVD floating shelves IKEA hack. I am pleased as punch!

12.05. – 22.05.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack tables to floating shelves part 4

As explained in yesterday’s post, I am putting together my how-to posts about the shelves I built for the period of time since my last regular daily posts. It just wouldn’t make sense otherwise, because I was poorly. So here we go, part 4 of the saga of my first substantial IKEA hack.

I ended up in part 3 with the shelves cut and prepared from the table tops, and the cleats built. Everything was ready for installing on the wall. An easy task I thought. Oh dear, I should have thought again. Things didn’t quite go as easily as I’d expected. Anyway, let’s start at the beginning.

First I smoothened and neatened the cleats so that the tables AKA shelves would slide nicely onto them. For once with a non-powertool ;-)

Then I marked the drill holes for fixing the cleats to the wall, and got a-drilling. Making sure I marked the left and the right of each cleat, and which number cleat it was. First a thin hole and then a bigger one with enough depth to sink the screws in. With the position of the shelves drawn and measured onto the wall, I then used the thin holes to mark where the plugs should go (special metal screw-in ones for plasterboards, the only ones which hold anything at all in my blasted partitioning walls).


Rinse and repeat. This left me with a nice collection of shelves and cleats.

Now onto the wall, which I thought should be a doddle, but wasn’t. I don’t know what it is about the plasterboard walls in my house, but they drive me bananas. I must have tried and used every specialist plug combo under the sun, and even the screw-in ones didn’t always work. No idea why. But of course, with a lot of persistence I finally managed, but that’s a long way down the line. Eventually the plugs were in and I screwed on the first cleat. So far so good, but whatever I did I never got cleat number 4 to sit securely.


After much cursing and sweating I finally had all cleats fixed on the wall, ready for the shelves.

And then … then I slid the shelves onto the cleats, stepped back to take a photo and … OH NO! Realised I’d made a very silly mistake. I’d not measured wrong, but I’d marked the upper/lower edge of the cleat wrong on the measurements. Why did I not notice earlier? Not even when taking pictures? Why?

I can tell you why: never ever do DIY when you are coming down with something and you are not quite with it. It doesn’t matter that you won’t finish quickly, just wait until you feel better.

So I ended up like this, with the wrongly positioned cleat taken off, and number 4, the one I never managed to stabilise completely.


09.05.2011 – babysteps

Not the steps of an actual baby. I only did a tiny bit today, reeling from some bad stuff on the professional side.

So what I did do today was screwing the metal angle brackets onto the wooden cleats. Go me, aye?

08.05.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack tables to floating shelves part 3

At last! After all the work on the actual room, I am at the stage where I can work on the things I want in that room. Thus, this Sunday, it was back to the floating shelves for DVDs that I want to make out of super cheap IKEA Lack tables. IKEA discontinued the red tables, and I got a stack of them for hardly any money. I bought 4, and I’ll have 7 shelves for DVDs.

Remember my initial ideas and drawings? That led to the first part of the “making of” where I tested how it would all work out by surfing for Lack table info, which can be found in 03.03.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack tables to floating shelves part 1 and then onwards to testing things out myself by cutting one of the tables in half and checking out what’s inside, plus measuring for the DVDs and the wall position. This one can be found in 04.03.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack table to floating shelves part 2. Finally, I went to scour the DIY shops and found suitable pieces of wood which will fit perfectly inside the tables/shelves and will make the cleats. Now, onto the whole day’s work and lots of pictures and “making of/how-to” descriptions, which will hopefully be of help to anyone who is pondering something similar.

Caveat: I am making it up as I go along, thus you better wait till I am done to see if it worked out. 

1. Take your IKEA Lack tables out of their packaging, store the screws and the table legs somewhere, you never know what they might come in handy for. The tables are hollow, with paper honeycomb filling, so you have to be aware that you won’t be able to use this for heavy weights. I am going for DVDs thus should be fine. Measure the width of the required shelves (I suggest not to make them too deep, also for stability and load-bearing reasons). Make sure you mark the right-angled cutting line down the side as well, to have a good guide.


I used my Black & Decker Scorpion electric saw, which I love to bits because it allows me to do lots of sawing easily without killing my arthritic hands/wrists/fingers too badly, but I do have a bone of contention with them, because the safety two-button system is set up for big burly hands, not laydee ones. Listen, powertool manufacturers, lots of women use these tools! Don’t be sexist and make them hard to operate with smaller hands.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. You will end up with a stack of raw shelves, looking like this.

2. To make space for the cleats, you need to take out some of the honeycomb paper. Don’t take out all of it, because it will affect the stability of the shelves. Since I have 3 cm deep wood battens, and will make arms to slide the shelves on, I need space along and the sides inside free. This can de done fairly easily by ripping out paper. It can be sore doing this by hand, because the paper is glued on, so I used a set of pliers. To get rid of the paper at the sides I pushed a Stanley knife in, cut at the desired width, then used a big screw driver to stab and wiggle and force it all out. And yes, “stab and wiggle” is a technical term. ;-)


You will end up with rather neat insides of your (former) table (now) shelf. Note the reinforcing blocks of wood in the corners. They happen to be different in depth, just check this out when you’ve prepared all your shelves.


Once you’ve done them all you’ll end up with a pretty stack like this.

4. To make the cleats, measure the inside of the shelves. Now, for me that would have been 47 cm for the batten that’ll be fixed to the wall, plus the arms. Well, I was wrong. This would require perfect sawing and sanding and dowelling, and alas, I’d never before joined pieces of wood and because I am using the electric saw I can’t use a mitre guide, thus my right angled weren’t … ahem … quite so 90 degrees. (By the way, if you think I am making up DIY terms or use the wrong ones, you are probably right. My poor head has several languages fighting for DIY terminology supremacy.) Anyway, after sanding down some of the 47 cm ones to make them fit better, I cut the remainders 46 cm long. Then cut out the wee arm pieces, bearing in mind the differing depth of the corner enforcing blocks in the shelves. Smooth all the bits down nicely. I used my belt sander, not the mouse sander.


This will leave you will a nice stack of wooden bits and bobs, ready for joining.

5. Joining the wood in a sturdy way to make the cleats should be done with wooden dowels and wood glue. With this being right angles this should be an easy task to do. Well. I say that, but in reality I’d never done this, and once again made things up as I went along, bearing in mind that my right angles would never be quite right angles, because of the cutting issue mentioned above.

First of I marked the spots where to drill for the dowel holes by dabbing some paint onto one end then pressing the other against it to transfer the mark. This is most probably completely unprofessional, but it worked for me. So nyer.

I then fixed the wood to be drilled with a clamp (essential!), whose the right sized wood drill, marked on the drill to where I needed to drill (half the length of the dowel) and went ahead. Rinse and repeat.

Then I dabbed some wood glue onto the dowel and fixed it on one side, then added wood glue onto the other side, fitted them together, gave them agreat big whack or two with a hammer, smoothed off any squelching extra glue, and finally fixed it all into place with trusty rubber bands to dry off.


This will leave you with a lovely load of shelf supporting cleats.

That was all for today, and it did take the whole day. That’s the thing, when you’re learning by doing things simply take longer, but I don’t mind, it’s a fascinating experience.

Next up to be done: reinforcing the cleats with wee metal brackets, and then figuring out how the doodah to fix them securely to the wall. :-)

31.03.2011 – batten down the hatches

Geddit? Geddit? :-D Yes … I bet you all got it immediately. The battens for the IKEA hack where I’ll turn Lack tables into floating shelves. Measuring abounded!

Yep, my DVDs still live on the sewing room sofa, but that’s why I’m making the floating shelves.

04.03.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack table to floating shelves part 2

Right, then, let’s have another look at the IKEA Lack table. If you’ve watched the  video I posted in yesterday’s post, you know that the inside of a Lack table is honeycombed paper. Of course, being the kinaesthetic and visual learner AKA a hands-on sorta chapesse, I had to grab one of the tables and sew it in half with my trusty Scorpion. This is the result, it’s rather fascinating:

Of course, this also means that one can rip out the paper. It’s easiest to do with a screwdriver or something, and I wouldn’t recommend ripping it all out, because that obviously de-stabilises the construction, unless the support inside is going to be full-length.

Also, be aware of its load bearing capacity when opened up and de-stabilised. I measured a DVD and weighed it, and figured out that the weight won’t ever reach 5 kg.

The shelves are going to be custom made for DVD’s, that’s why they will be 15.5 cm deep, and the space between them will be 21 cm. The width of the Lack tables is 55 cm.

As for the construction, check my drawings numbers 4 and 5 on Wednesday’s post. I got inspiration from the following places that I found by Googling DIY floating shelves:

  • How to build simple floating shelves (ignore the “studs in walls” thing if you live where I live, that seems to be an American something, my walls are certainly brick built)
  • DIY floating shelves (this one is a very different construction to mine, but fascinating. It definitely holds more weight than mine ever would)
  • This one is the best for my purposes, and the one I got my plan from: build it with Ana floating shelves (just don’t read the blog it’s on, you will have stomach cramps from over-saccharine mega-polished display of a picture perfect family life of successful, thin, permanently in love, well off, young and healthy (don’t forget the sparkly teeth!) good looking Americans with an equally perfect baby, hahaha. ;-)  As a crusty old cynical European I find that much “perfection” unpalatable.)

03.03.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack tables to floating shelves part 1

Oh yes, you read right, as indicated in my previous post, I am going to make floating shelves out of IKEA Lack tables. Let’s start at the beginning, which is: what the doodah am I going to do with all my DVDs? They ain’t pretty, they ain’t non-voluminous, but they are essential, because I don’t have nor want a TV and love my DVD collections. Thus I resigned myself to the thought that I will simply have to have a space somewhere for as many as possible. No way was I going to put them onto my planned Expedit floating cubes, because that would destroy the look. So I would have to build something new, and the one piece of all that is suitable, is of course the one where the hanging cabinet used to be, which is now in the sewing room. It’s also the place where Mr F’s food bowls reside, which will be incorporated.

You can see the pencil outlines I drew onto the wall to test out my plan. This is where the shelves will go.

I got the red Lack tables for a bargain price in IKEA in January, because they were on sale for £2.99 a piece. Can you believe it? So cheap that I picked up 4, figuring I’d use them for something, just not sure for what. The only ones on offer were the red ones, so the colour was decided then. Holy maloney, I just checked when adding the link, and the red Lack tables are £1.28 right now! Run to IKEA and grab em while you can.

What is so incredibly clever about this table, and what makes it so cheap, is the production method. It’s lightweight but sturdy, and the secret is paper. Yep, the Lack has honeycomb paper inside, and as we all know from experiments in school lessons (at least I assume everyone else did that?) folded paper is incredibly strong.

The National Geographic channel made a video of the production of the Lack in its factory in Poland. It’s rather fascinating to watch: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/ultimate-factories/all/Videos/07455_00

Which means, the Lack is hollow, which means further, that it is perfectly placed for mounting on cleats as a floating shelf.

More to follow, time for me to hit the road.

02.03.2011 – planning and drawing

I spent the day in a conference, and I am one of those odd people who concentrate best and listen most effectively when occupying my eyes and hands with something very focused. The other option is to close my eyes, but I prefer to make notes or doodle or do anything else on paper, while listening attentively. Drawback is that people in meetings probably sometimes think I don’t pay attention at all, while in fact the exact opposite is the case.

So, anyway, back to the drawings and the planning. You may all laugh now, you people who are professionals, but for me the visualisation works, because the details are all in my head. So, here they are, if you fancy, you can try and make any sense of it. It’s all crystal clear to me … (tip: it’s ideas and plans for the desk hacked from two IKEA Vika Amon and other bits, and for floating DVD shelves hacked from four IKEA Lack tables that were on offer for £2.99).


P.S. Anbei meine Zeichnungen (Ideen) fuer den Schreibtisch und Regale fuer die DVDs. Ich hatte Zeit waehrend der Konferenz diese Woche. :-)

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