IKEA HACK – How To Build A Shoe Rack From An IKEA EXPEDIT Shelving Unit
| by JP Danko | Pictures By Mom | Learn How To Take Better Pictures |
I always wanted to build my own furniture. But, I never though that most of the furniture I build would end up being Ikea hacks!
With two small kids and a small, “compact” house – utilizing space for optimal storage has become very important.
I have built and hacked a lot of Ikea furniture – I might not be a carpenter, but out of necessity, I have turned into an expert Ikea furniture hacker!
Ikea Hack – Expedit Custom Shoe Rack
Here is the custom shoe rack that I built from an Ikea Expedit shelving unit. I really like the look of standard Ikea Expedit shelving units, with the extra thick perimeter and look through, compartmentalized shelving.
However, in this case, I wanted a shoe rack that optimized the storage space available in my closet, and with compartment shelving that is specifically sized for shoes.
A Warning To First Time Ikea Hackers
The one and only rule you need to remember for all Ikea furniture hacks – Ikea furniture is not made out of wood.
Ikea furniture might look like wood, it might even feel like wood – but it is medium density fiber board (MDF) with either a melamine finish or a very thin wood veneer. (Melamine is the ubiquitous medium density fiber board with a plastic like finish that most low cost furniture is made out of).
Working with melamine or wood veneer medium density fiber board is a lot different than working with real wood – so be prepared!
Before you even think about trying your own Ikea furniture hack – be warned that Ikea furniture is designed to be assembled in a very specific way. Changing pretty much anything will give you major problems assembling Ikea furniture.
You also have to always be conscious not to alter any finished surfaces that will be visible. You can’t just paint something after the fact – because it will not match the original Ikea surface finish.
Oh ya – an don’t bother calling Ikea for help (as if anyone ever calls for help anyway!)
- Table Saw with a double sided melamine blade (a blade that is designed to have a clean cut on both the the top and bottom of the piece being cut). I used a Freud Diablo 80 tooth laminate / melamine blade.
- Hand Drill and drill bits.
- Screwdriver and screws (I use an impact driver, but you could also get away with hand tools).
- Glue – I used a combination of PL Premium and hot glue.
- Clamps – minimum 2″ deep C-clamps.
- Hole Filler such as Poly Filla.
- 58 5/8″ x 31 1/8 x 15 3/8″ Ikea Expedit Shelving Unit
- 40″ x 12″ x 5/8″ melamine shelf (You will have to find a piece of melamine MDF that closely matches the color of your Expedit Shelving Unit. White is the easiest to match – but Ikea white tends to be slightly warmer than pure white.)
Custom Shoe Rack Design
First of all, standard Ikea Expedit shelving units are 15 3/8″ wide. I thought that 15 3/8″ was too wide for storing shoes, so I trimmed all of the components down to 12″ wide.
However, making an Expedit narrower means that only one side will be finished – the cut sides go at the back where they won’t be visible. It also adds a whole lot of work (read on), so if you can live with a width of 15 3/8″, don’t change it!
All of the cubbies in my shoe rack are optimized for shoes. 10″ x 9 1/2″ compartments for boots (and really tall high heels) on the bottom row, 10″ x 5 1/2″ for shoes on the top rows. My shoe rack holds a total of twelve pairs of shoes in their own compartments.
The length and height of the shoe rack was determined by the size of my closet – so you can change it as required – just make sure that you don’t make it too big that you need to buy another Expedit for parts.
Here is a list of all the components.
- Top – 2″ Thick Expedit Side cut to 40″ x 12″
- Bottom – 2″ Thick Expedit Side cut to 40″ x 12″
- Side – 2″ Thick Expedit Side cut to 27″ x 12″
- Side – 2″ Thick Expedit Side cut to 27″ x 12″
- Shelf – 5/8″ Expedit Shelf cut to 40″ x 12″
- Shelf – 5/8″ melamine shelf cut to 40″ x 12″
- Small Divider – 6 pieces – 5/8″ Expedit Dividers cut to 5 1/2″ x 12″ (cut two pieces from each Expedit divider)
- Large Divider – 3 pieces – 5/8″ Expedit Dividers cut to 9 1/2″ x 12″
Reconstructing 2″ Thick Expedit Sides
The biggest challenge with this project is the fact that the 2″ thick Ikea Expedit sides are hollow.
All the 2″ thick Ikea Expedit sides are made out of is a little bit of fiber board around the edges, and honeycomb cardboard filler, shown in the photo below (NOTE – this photo is for illustration purposes only – don’t actually pull the whole side off of your Expedit pieces!):
So, when you cut the sides of and Expedit unit, you have to reconstruct the sides that you want to use (this is much more work the more faces you cut).
The following photo shows all of the Expedit shelf components that need to be reassembled:
To reconstruct the Expedit sides, salvage the internal edge strengthening blocks from the pieces you cut off by gently prying the pieces apart (they actually come apart very easily as long as you are careful). Trim the edge strengthening blocks to fit, and glue them into place for your new sides. I used PL Premium and clamps for this.
Once you have all of your components cut, reassembled and ready to go, you can start assembling your shoe rack.
1. First I connected the sides to the top using PL Premium and a single 3″ deck screw in each corner. Make sure you drill pilot holes, or the melamine will crack. You also have to make sure that you screw into the edge strengthening blocks – not the interior of the hollow Expedit sides.
2. Next, I set the shoe rack upside down and attached the first three 5 1/2″ dividers to the top using hot glue.
3. Then I placed the first shelf on top of the dividers. I used 2″ drywall screws to secure the shelf to the dividers and a bead of hot glue from the bottom to secure the ends of the shelf to the sides. Note – you could also use 3″ screws to secure the ends of the shelf to the sides, but because the 2″ thick Expedit components are hollow – you have to screw into the edge strengthening blocks and the shelf is pretty narrow – so you would have to be very very careful where you put the screws. It wasn’t worth the risk for me.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the next row.
5. Attach the three 9 1/2″ dividers to the bottom shelf using hot glue.
6. Install the bottom using 3″ deck screws in each corner.
7. Finally, fill any of the visible pre-drilled holes and your screw heads with hole filler. To color the hole filler, use a permanent magic marker that matches the finish of your Expedit components as closely as possible. For white, I usually just leave the hole filler white.
Funny IKEA Video
If you’re in the middle of your own Ikea hack, you’ll need a break – so here is the funniest Ikea commercial ever made!
How Did Your Ikea Expedit Hack Turn Out?
Leave a comment below and let us know how your Ikea hack turned out! We’d love to see photos, so leave a link to a picture too.
If you have questions, please leave a comment and I’ll try to answer.