How to Make and Install Hungarian Shelves

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.



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.
fnorman made it!1 month 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! :)

aesmeralda1 month ago

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

More power and be blessed.

aesmeralda1 month ago
Inspiring. Work. Keep it up.
Ninzerbean made it!2 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.

shelves 1.jpgshelves 2.jpg
robin isan3 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!

AntonioMDC7 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!
sfsavage7 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
20121008_shelving.jpg20121008_shelving TV.jpg
I just wanted to say an enormous THANK YOU for these wonderful instructions. I put the shelves up in my new 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!
jgale48 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.
randomray jgale47 months ago
Nice job .
My super shelves are complete!! :-)
juliofo (author)  hottie_mchottson1 year 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
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
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 ( 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. :)
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!
Hallway Closet. Removed the ancient sliding doors and built a similar version of the book case. On the 24" run on the left, instead of running a third vertical support, i used some of the 1 1/2" trim under neath to support the ends. As with the other shelf project, all i used was a drill, miter saw and a router. To make the mortise cuts in the vertical supports, i make multiple cuts halfway down into the 2x4 with the saw between my marks for the shelves. It doesn't produce a squared off notch, but the imperfections are well hidden by the shelves themselves. I always ensure i leave enough of a gap to get the wedges in well. A little DAP and paint, and short of an over critical eye, the impression is usually ..well impressive. Thanks gain Juliofo!
juliofo (author)  agent_orage3 years ago
Wonderful!!! Again. But don jet crazy with it, otherwise yogur people aré gong to hate me.
Well Juliofo, given the ikea shelves i put up in the bedroom closet have begun falling off the wall.... i have a couple more places to implement this design. ;)
I like the way the the shelf was designed here in this photo. I love the finished product when books are up there and the lights too, nice! This will be a great idea too for children's room so that they would have an organized room and encourage them to look and read books when they are bored playing. Great idea here.
Thanks :) I used 2x4's with 12"x3/4" MDF for the shelves. I trimmed the front edge of the shelves with some 1.5" flat molding to square up the look. Also i did not mortice the shelves, which provides a 3/4" gap at the back which makes hiding wiring really simple. :) Props again to Juliofo for this awesome post.
You idea is really great and I would like these kinds of shelves installed inside my daughter's room, for her things to be more organized. In the living room, definitely. Oh and yes, how could I forget the small office I have at home. Thank you!
juliofo (author)  agent_orage4 years ago
Thanks for posting the photos.
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!
juliofo (author)  jpollard32 years ago
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.
triumphman2 years ago
a dovetail joint would be nice , but not easily applied to the shelves.
triumphman2 years ago
Are the wedges thin triangular pieces of wood? The whole thing stands without screwing the shelves to the sticks? And heavy books don't collapse it? Wow!

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