Instructables

How to Make and Install Hungarian Shelves

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First time I saw these shelves was in Budapest, at a friends apartment. I was told they had been designed by a physicist. That's why I think they are safe. The ones in the photos have been up for more than a year now.
 
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Step 1: The model 240 cm by 240 cm

This is just one model. You can personalize the design to fit your needs.

Step 2: The materials

For the model showed in Step1 the materials are:

4 sticks of pine of 240 cm by 5 cm by 6 cm (5 is front; 6 is deep) (photo1)
6 selves of DM of 240 cm by 22 cm by 3 cm (photo2)
4 wall metal peg screws to hold large weigths (one for each stick) (photo3)
12 regular wall plastic peg screws to hold medium weigths (three for each stick) (photo4)

Step 3: Cut off mortices on sticks and shelves

The whole set is assembled like pieces in a puzzle without glue or screws.

In the sticks make a mortice for every shelf.
In the shelves make a mortice for every stick.

In our case this means 6 mortices in each stick and 4 mortices in each shelf.

As a rule, in sticks make a mortice 2/3 deep of the side of the stick and in shelves make a mortice 1/3 deep of the side of the stick. (In the example this means 4 cm in sticks and 2 cm in shelves because the side of the stick is 6 cm).

Step 4: Hold vertical sticks on the wall

Use the strong screw in the middle of the stick.

Check verticality with a bubble level.

Fix the other 3 screws in every stick.

Step 5: Finishing

Once all the sticks are on the wall, assemble the shelves and VOILA! you have it done.

BUT THERE IS STILL ONE MORE THING...

PLEASE DO NOT MISS THIS DETAIL WHETHER YOU THINK IS IMPORTANT OR NOT!

The last thing to do is to insert wedges of wood under all the shelves and in every stick untill all the shelves are ortogonal (=perpendicular) (=90 degres) to the sticks.
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bariwonderful made it!1 month ago

I decided I wanted something more modular, so I made my shelves smaller. The bottom shelf runs the whole span (100"). Most of the shelves are doubles (36") and a few are singles (20").

ProTip: To cut out the slots in the vertical supports, batch it. Lay all of your supports out together, with the front face up, and clamp together. Measure out where your cuts need to go and cut straight across all of them at once. This gave me very even shelves and saved a bunch of time.

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rafain1 month ago

I did a couple of this. They are really nice and work well for over 2 years now. Nice project to share time with my sons.

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BlueCoyote2 months ago

Justo lo que buscaba, fantástico!

jpollard32 years ago
This is what I've built. As a first woodworking project in my life, it was bloody time consuming. I've never worked with wood or a jigsaw. Heck, I do not have a work table! Cutting was interesting to say the least. Two sawhorses, 2 snapped planks, some blood, lots of sweat and paint and I was done!

It took a while to get the vertical wood pieces attached to the wall then some more time to get the horizontals to fit in again. I can't believe how sturdy it is!

I can't even fit a piece of paper into my joints. I had to use a hammer and a lot of brute force to get the horizontals fitting the verticals, so I had to skip that step. The thing is going nowhere!
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Wow! Amazing results!

And with so little experience!

Thanks! I just took my time with it, measured everything about 4 times before cutting and drilling, cursed like a sailor and built it! The thing hasn't moved an inch since being installed, and thats with a few kids using it as a ladder.

juliofo (author)  jpollard32 years ago
Bravo!
Wonderful work.
I like much your low table solution for the shelve at the bottom. Is it on wheels?
Thanks for posting the photos.
Nope, no wheels. Everything is bolted to the wall. The only difference I made is to use 2400 x 76 x 50 mm for the vertical and 2400 x 300 x 22 mm for the horizontal, so all the shelves are quite deep, but that makes it look less crowded in my opinion.
AntonioMDC10 months ago
if you had an open/unfinished wall, and that wall was NOT a bearing wall, you could just notch the studs. if a bearing wall add strips to the front of each stud leaving gaps to simulate the notches.

I can't tell you how many shelves I have cut or pieced to flow in and around studs and made or bought little brackets to attach to each side of every stud, and never thought of this. it is so elegantly simple. I wish I had seen this sooner!

Unfinished wall? Don't cut away at the studs, instead just make some upright spacing cleats and mount them right onto the studs. It won't have the same nice finish as these, but we're already talking unfinished walls here. Set a row of cleats, drop in a shelf, add another row of cleats, drop in another shelf, and finish with a top row of cleats. You will still need wedges/shims - it transfers the weight load down the entire stack to the floor, versus one small contact point. I suggest you use good quality wood for the uprights/cleats - not one that easily splits, has knot holes, cracks.

vincent75202 months ago

Great !…

Thanks for posting !…

One question though. How do you account for the wall's strength ? I fear that sheet rock wouldn't be strong enough to hold hundreds of books. What do you think ?…

Make your uprights align to the studs, and you should have no trouble. USA is commonly 16 inches on center. If you are handy with the saw/chisel to cut the mortises, put them in at a 3 degree angle. it will help tip the books back towards the wall - just don't hang the uprights upside down, or your shelves will fall out!

ALWAYS use the shims/wedges, so small vibrations don't wobble the shelves out of the mortises.

pabray462 months ago

The ultimate in super simple, infinitely adaptable design! Thank you. Loved seeing photos of all the variations you inspired. I made a similar one in 1970 that filled a 20’ wall in my apartment living room in NYC. Never thought to hang it on the wall. Good thing, too. It was a very old plaster lathe wall (no studs). Instead of narrow stick uprights screwed to studs, I used uprights from same 1” x 8” shelving.Stood them up on the floor and notched the back edges to fit into matching notches for each shelf. Stunning display area for all my souvenirs from European honeymoon. Pride go-eth before a fall.The shelves burned to cinders when I (accidently) set my apartment on fire 6 months later—while building a sofa.

fnorman made it!4 months ago

This was a fantastic online find for me... here is my accomplishment :) Took me 8 days (due to fibro), but I've done it! Thank you for putting the info out there! :)

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aesmeralda4 months ago

Very inspiring work. Here is my version of the your inspirational spark ;).

More power and be blessed.

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aesmeralda4 months ago
Inspiring. Work. Keep it up.
Ninzerbean made it!5 months ago

I made these with the help of my contractor Tripp, they turned into more than shelves - more like an architectural design element in my kitchen. Thanks ever so.

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robin isan6 months ago

Hi, thank you for such a useful instructable. I've used it to build these bookshelves into a difficult corner space. Used store-bought timber for the uprights, painted to match the walls, and salvaged scaffolding boards for the horizontals, sanded and waxed. Delighted with the results, will be using this method again!

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sfsavage10 months ago
great instructable. made a set and am very pleased with them.
patience and prep is key here
..and routing is the icing on cake
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emilygraceking11 months ago
I just wanted to say an enormous THANK YOU for these wonderful instructions. I put the shelves up in my new art studio (http://www.instructables.com/id/Wood-Shed-into-Epic-Art-Studio/). Like many other commenters here, I used a dado and had to pound the shelves into the supports. They are definitely never coming out!
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jgale411 months ago
I just completed these shelves and it turned out great! Most of the time went to planning...after that it went pretty quickly. I did 4 bigger shelves instead of 5 small ones so I could fit larger pictures and such comfortably on each shelf. Made with 2"x4"s and 2"x8"s. Would be interested to see how a 1"x8" might look.
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randomray jgale411 months ago
Nice job .
My super shelves are complete!! :-)
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juliofo (author)  hottie_mchottson2 years ago
Wonderful work!!!
Thank you so much for posting the pictures!!!
Spread the word.
Can you take a close up of the corner where they meet
I will take some close ups when I get a chance but there really isn't much to see in the corner. The problem I ran into early in the project was that there wasn't a stud to screw into on the left side in the corner. So I just used the verticals you see to keep it even. The left side shelves extend all the way to the wall but aren't attached to anything there. The right side shelves just butt up to the left side shelves but also aren't attached to anything there either. I thought about doing a 45 degree cut at the corner but then you can't slide the shelves into grooves.
ok here are some more pics of the supershelves somewhat filled in with lots of nick nacks. I put the 6 foot ladder in to show some perspective as to how big they are since the previous picture just didn't seem to do justice to the actual size. Very boring corner shot included as promised. Also a close up of the beveled verticals for your viewing pleasure. Also I didn't do the little wedges on the bottom as stated in the instructable. I just cut them to exact size and then had to readjust some. Some were still pretty tight but nothing a good mallet couldn't handle. Ps. the house is for sale, shelves included lol
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Thanks!
These shelves are F%^&*ING awesome!!!!! I'm totally stealing this design for my difficult living room, which will become my difficult library.
juliofo (author)  hottie_mchottson2 years ago
Congratulations!!!
Very nice work.
Very nice picture.
Very nice comment.
Thanks a lot
The verticals are 2x4's screwed directly into the studs. The horizontals are 1x8's and are not screwed in to anything. They are stained with General Finish brand water based stains Espresso (vertical) and Rosewood (horizontal) though they sort of just look black in the photo. Total cost ~$120 because I used the premium pine 1x8's. All in all a very easy project and lots of positive feedback from friends.
mjursic2 years ago
Great instructable! Love it! Going to make it!
I am trying to design shelves that will be wall to wall and floor to ceiling because I am a grafter and have limited space in my bedroom, these look like an awesome idea, but I am such a clutz that I am afraid that I would end up knocking one of these shelves out....
TashaDax2 years ago
Holy mother of Tesla! This is awesome and beautiful and I love it to bits! I have a question though (since I'm too lazy to look through the previous comments):
Would this hold up on drywall?

It would be far more secure if you affix it to the stud and not just the drywall. If you're going into the drywall alone, the amount of weight will depend on the surface area of where the shelf pulls on the drywall. So if you use something called a Hollow Wall Anchor (http://www.johsoncn.com/hollow_wall_anchor.htm) instead of plastic wedge anchors, you're going to be MUCH better off.
juliofo (author)  TashaDax2 years ago
Hi, Hi,

Yes and Yes.

There are solutions at the comments for drywalls.

Basically it consists in making to fit any (at least one) stick of the shelves with a stud of the wall.

Good luck (and post photos of your result).

agent_orage4 years ago
Thank you SO MUCH! for sharing this! This has to be the simplest, and by nature, most elegant shelving designs in history. :)
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Freaking awesome! I'm totally doing these in my living room
Do you have plans for this awesome shelving? I have a room that this would
work perfectly in.
Wow, awesome job on that corner! That looks incredible!
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