Hackers Help: Shortening Billy bookcases. Is it possible?

Ikea items used : 106 cm high Ikea Bookshelf (302.638.44)

I have 2 Billy bookshelves. I would like to shorten them, because they are too high. They are initially 106 cm high (41 3/4 “), which is 21 cm (8″) higher than my Ektorp couch. I would like to bring them down to 85 cm (33 1/2”).

IKEA BILLY bookcase
Photo: IKEA.com

I am thinking of just sawing the side panels at the top, and drawing new holes for the wooden plugs, as well as the iron “screws”.

An Ikea representative told me that if I touch anything on the item, it won’t be stable anymore, because things are optimized for the specified layout, not for any change.

Thus I wanted to know whether anyone has experience trying this, or if anyone knows whether drawing holes at this point of the panels will be efficient, or whether the panels are hollow at this place.

Any general feedback is welcome.

~ by Victor


Hi Victor

Shortening BILLY bookcases has definitely been done before.

Take a look at this. See the shorter BILLY next to the “unhacked” one? Exactly what you want, right?

shortening BILLY bookcases

This hacker reduced the top section of the BILLY side panel. And later added a new top to cover the raw edges and complete the transformation.

shortening BILLY bookcases

See how it’s done.

Here is another example. Fentigger cut down a tall 80x200cm BILLY into 3 parts and reassembled them into a horizontal CD rack. Very nicely done, if I may say so.

shortening BILLY bookcases

See more the BILLY CD bookcase.

Shortening Billy bookcases, some quick tips

I believe the entire side panel is made of particleboard (unless they have changed their formula), without hollow honeycomb innards like the KALLAX. So you should be able to make new holes. Use the old cut-off pieces as a template.

Cutting particleboard is tricky and you may land in compressed wood chip splintersville. Always use a new sharp blade on your circular saw. To reduce splinter, you can try masking the cut area with painter’s tape. It’s probably the most common solution offered on the Internet but I’ve had partial success with it. My go-to method is to clamp the cut area tightly between two pieces of scrap wood (like a sandwich) and then cut all 3 pieces together. Usually works.

As for stability issues, it’s really hard to say. If it happens, brace the jiggly bits with brackets.

Good luck and do let us know how your project turns out.