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. 🙂


One thought on “08.05.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack tables to floating shelves part 3

  1. Pingback: 12.05. – 22.05.2011 – IKEA hack: Lack tables to floating shelves part 4 « Project C365-11: being creative every day

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