Get Crazy Organizing Your KALLAX for $3 Per Unit
Shelves, shelves, shelves.
When you’re knee-deep in kids/pets/household crap, who doesn’t need extra shelves? Shelves, dividers, bins…these things are my friends.
Instead of working to afford expensive furniture, IKEA is all about making your furniture work for you.
A few weeks ago I shared with you my secret slot system for installing Vertical Kallax Shelf Dividers. Soon thereafter, I realized I needed some horizontal ones, too.
A cursory search for Kallax shelf cubbies revealed an Etsy listing priced at $51. I thought I could do better than that. I spent $16 on one sheet of plywood with enough left over to make at least 4 or 5 more units.
End Cost: $3.20 per shelf divider unit.
Here's what you need to get started.
- Table saw (Or use my exact dimensions to have someone rip the pieces for you)
- Miter saw
- 1/4" plywood (birch is usually my go-to)
- White latex paint. I used Behr's Ultra White in Semi-Gloss.
- Wood glue
- Face clamps
- Small (picture frame) nails 1/2" or 3/8"
- Your free plans! Get them here.
Making Your Ikea Kallax Divider Units
- Start by cutting your side panels. From your sheet of plywood, rip down two pieces to exactly 13-1/8" by 15-1/16". Cut it to those dimensions exactly. Trust me on this. I've got it down to a science! 😀
- Determine how many slots you want. For me, I wanted 5 slots, so I needed to cut 4 shelves. The number of slots determines the gap between each shelf. With my system you can modify your slot system based on how many slots you want.
3. The 1/4" grooves for each shelf are created by glueing down strips of additional plywood. Mine needed to be 2-3/8" wide and 15-1/16" long (aka the depth of your Kallax cube).
4. Here's how to calculate the spacing in your slot system:
[height of cube] - [(width of your Dividers) x (number of dividers +1)]
total number of slots
[13-1/8"] - [(1/4 x 5)] / 5
105/8 - 10/8 = 95/8
95/8 x 1/5 = 95/40 or 2-3/8
In other words, the wood strips of your slot system need to be cut to 2-3/8" wide.
I hope I didn't make that too confusing! The reason I multiply the width of your dividers (1/4") by 5 dividers and not 4 is because that extra 1/4" ensures a little bit of breathing room for your unit to slide in and out of the KALLAX cube.
If the fractions are confusing in and of themselves see my quick tutorial on working with fractions and getting accurate measurements every time.
5. Using the same sheet of plywood, rip down your spacing strips to the measurement you determined in step 4. Mine were 15-1/16" long by 2-3/8" wide.
6. Lay out your strips so that they're evenly spaced on the panels you cut in step #1.
7. Secure your strips to your panels using wood glue and the smallest nails you can find (I used teeny tiny picture frame nails). Clamp and let dry overnight.
8. The next morning, jump out of bed and test your slot panels while you're still in your underwear. Because who has time to dress with all of this excitement?
9. Now it's time to cut your shelves! You can notch them slightly in front with a jigsaw, to make papers easier to grab. I skipped this step since I'm storing papers that I rarely need. But here's an example of how that would look.
You will cut your shelves from the same plywood to 15-1/16" deep by 12-5/8".
10. Slide them in and make sure everything fits.
11. Give everything 1-2 coats of white paint. I went with a semi-gloss finish.
12. Replace your unit once everything is painted. Since the measurements are so perfectly fitted to your cubby, I recommend that you DON'T nail your divider system to your Kallax so that you can move it around as needed.
Below is a preview of my entire Built-in Kallax Filing System. I love love hiding ugly cords, documents, and miscellaneous office junk in my deep cubbies!
**Alternate Production Method: If you have a router, you could route 1/4" shelf grooves out of 1/2" plywood panels instead of applying the long wood strips. I haven't tested this method, but I'm pretty sure it would work and actually be much faster than waiting for the strips to dry.
You'd never know how messy the rest of my house looks!
Somehow I inherited a house with next to nothing for closet shelving, no entryway storage, and a very small pantry...I guess this means you're going to be seeing a lot of shelf building in the new year!
Update: I recently posted the tutorial for making your own Built-in Kallax System - this post is a component of the larger design plan.
If you'd like to see how the entire His and Hers Office Renovation turned out, you can get the full tour here!