Lack tables to floating shelves

Materials: Lack tables, wooden battens, screws, plasterboard plugs, corner brackets, wallpaper leftovers, electric saw, drill, screwdriver

Description: Let’s start at the beginning, which is: what the doodah was I going to do with all my DVDs? I don’t have nor want a TV and love my DVD collections. I would have to build something new, and I had a narrow space between two doors that was perfect for displaying DVDs without trying to hide them, which never works. This was also the place where Mr F’s (my cat) food bowls reside, which were going to be incorporated.

I got the red Lack tables for a bargain price in IKEA in January, because they were on sale for £2.99 a piece due to being discontinued. What is so clever about this table, and what makes it so cheap, is the production method. It’s lightweight but sturdy, and the secret is the honeycomb paper inside, which means the table top is essentially hollow, thus perfect for floating shelves.

I then cut the table tops into the required depth (a little more than the width of a DVD) and started ripping out enough paper on each side so that cleats would fit, and a little paper on the top. Make sure you don’t rip out all of it, or the shelf will lose stability.

To make the cleats, measure the inside of the shelves. I found a perfect size of batten, which would allow the shelves to slide onto the cleats while remaining safely in place. You want the cleats to fit snugly. I cut them 46 cm long to leave space for the wee ‘arms’ that will hold the sides of the shelves. Then cut out the latter, bearing in mind the differing depth of the corner enforcing blocks in the shelves. Sand all your pieces down nicely.

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. 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. I then fixed the wood to be drilled with a clamp (essential!), chose 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, and then fit the pieces together, using wood glue for extra sturdiness. When it’s dried, reinforce the corners with metal brackets. This will leave you with a lovely load of shelf supporting cleats.

Now it’s time to get the cleats securely onto the wall. It’s entirely up to you and your creativity, where you want to place them. 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 partitioning walls). Fix the cleats onto the wall and admire your handiwork so far.

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.

Now slide the finished shelves into place. You might have to add a little support underneath the shelves, depending on how deep you chose them to be, or the sturdiness of your wall, etc. You should be amazed at your lovely, cheap and entirely unique shelves now.

And finally, here are my completed shelves in all their DVD laden glory (DVDs are held in place by acrylic bookends) and Mr F’s integrated food bowl space. 

See detailed step-by-step descriptions and more photos.

~ Nicole, Scotland

Jules Yap