Stairway To Ikea

Materials: Billy Step Shelf

Description: Tools needed:
Phillips screwdriver
Flathead screwdriver
Cordless drill
Drill bits (for pilot holes)
Assorted sized drywall screws. (3/4, 1 1/4 inch and 2 1/2)
Wood glue
Tape measure
Chop saw
Table saw

From Ikea (all the same color)
2 – Billy hanging wall shelves
1 – Billy 31 1/2 inch height extension unit
1 – Billy 15 height extension unit
1 – 4 inch plinth (ripped down the middle to create two 2 inch pieces)

From Hardware Store
Rubbermaid 6 ft shelf
2 – 1 1/2 inch 90 degree angle brackets with screws
4 – 1 1/2 inch straight casters

Before anyone says a word: yes, I realize I could of gotten an Expedit and done something similar and just installed a back to it, but the Expedit is too: deep for the hallway; difficult to hack because of the cardboard honeycomb fill; and they only make it black or white.

This is a MAJOR hack. Due to all the modifications and planning needed, it took me two days to complete. Word of advice, work slowly and very carefully. One mistake and you will ruin the shelf and have to buy another one. (IKEA will not take back furniture cut with a table saw.) This is not of a simple hack. If you do not own/cannot rent/borrow a chop saw and/or table saw, I strongly advise against doing this hack. I take no responsibility for anything.

Assemble everything, according to the instructions. Note you will be taking things apart again. (On the Billy wall shelves do not nail the back of the shelves until you finish this project.)

Take one of your Billy wall shelf and assemble it, again don’t nail the rear panel on it yet. We are going to install our casters on this one.

Using the 2 inch plinth we ripped before, Make a toe kick. Cut to size. I left about a half inch from the edge to make it look similar to the other Billy shelves. I attached the plinth from the bottom using 2 1/2 inch drywall screws. Note: Do not over drill, as it will tear the laminate from the bottom up.

Using the chipboard that came with the plinth, I screwed two pieces lengthwise behind the toe kick for support and to attach the casters. I attached the casters, making sure they were straight and aligned. (Don’t nail the back yet)

Stack the other Billy shelf on top. You will notice that there will be about a 1/4 inch gap between the top of the bottom shelf and the bottom of the top shelf. I didn’t like it. It would of bowed when I put screws to it and looked bad. The gap is caused by the side supports that extend past the top and bottom of the shelf, leaving gap in between them. They got to go. So what I did is this. I took a sharp pencil and ran a line from the back to the front, except for the top right side of the top shelf. (See picture) Disassemble the units and using the chop saw, cut on the pencil marks. Reassemble, except for the top shelf. Screw the bottom shelf, the one with the casters, to the top shelf using 1 1/4 inch drywall screws. Make sure you drive the screws from the bottom. That way you don’t see the screws.

Stack and align the 31 inch bookcase extension to the top of your two shelves. Using a pencil, run a line on each side of the right support. Remove the bookcase. Drill 3 equally spaced holes in between the lines. Stack and align bookcase again. Use the three holes as a guide and drill 3 holes in the right side column. Screw 3 – 2 1/2 inch drywall screws into the column.

Repeat the same for the 15 inch shelf extension.

Now to secure the left side of the shelves… Rip the Rubbermaid shelf to 11 inches deep. Cut to the right height. (I don’t remember the exact height, use a measuring tape, it’s like 43 inches and something) Using clamps secure the panel to the left side and using the shelf holes as a guide, drill a minimum of four one inch screws per shelf.

Now I came to a dilemma, the right column of the top extension shelf stuck out a 1/4. If I aligned it to the front edge, the top would have been misaligned. So I disassembled it and cut off a 1/4 inch off the back of the right column. It aligned perfectly, though the screw and the dowel would not line up. So I screwed the two 90 degree angle brackets. I secured the right side of the column, like I did above, by running a line on each side of the column. I drilled 3 equally spaced holes in between the lines. Stacked and aligned the column. Using the three holes as a guide to drill 3 pilot holes in the right side column. Screw 3 – 2 1/2 inch drywall screws into the column.

Finally, nail the wall shelf back to the columns.


When you are finished with a section and assembling, for added strength use wood glue on the dowels.

~ Alex Perdomo, Miami

Jules Yap