Introduction: Ikea Bookshelf Storage Box (feat. Cat Silhouette)

Like a lot of people out there, we have our share of Billy bookshelves from Ikea. Cheap, sturdy, simple, wildly available. There is just too much value for your dollar not to have a few in your house. The thing is that as we keep filling them, it just doesn't look clean and neat when they are loaded to the brim with all the things we acquire over time.

My wife recently began knitting and she asked me if I could custom build her a wooden box to put all her knitting gear and yarn. I got to make her something nice and unique and our bookshelf now look nice and clean : win-win.

For those of you that believe I just lured you here with my cat silhouette feature, you are pretty much right. But I promise it's there (on the side) if you hang on for a little longer.

I hope you enjoy this simple and very accessible project. If you have similar storage box for your bookshelves, please post them in the comment thread !

- Boomrang -

Step 1: Design Phase

I took basic measurement from the inside of the bookshelf compartment. It is pretty standard for Ikea but make sure you measure yours because it might vary a little bit since you can adjust the hight of each shelf.

My dimensions were 10"x10"x 29.5" which fits real nice inside the bookshelf with just enough room to allow the box to freely slide in and out (giggity).

I've designed it with 4 bars on each side and 5 smaller bars on the bottom (which turned out to be the left overs from the milling of the side bars). Each side bar is 2"x0.75"x 29.5" and the bottom bars are 1.25"x0.75"x29.5". To mill them I've used 6"x1" boards (if you don't know 6x1 board are actually 5.5" x 0.75").

For the side panels, I used 3/4" thick plywood, 8"x10" which I notched on the bottom so the bars would fit flush in it. I wanted to personalize the box a little bit so I made a silhouette of a cat head on each side (see next step)

Step 2: Moar Kats Acshun

The difference between buying one of Ikea's storage box that fits it the bookshelf and building one was the ability to customize it (and the fun that comes with it). So for this one I thought I drew the outline of a cat head on each side of the box. It would be a nice reveal when the box is taken out of the bookshelf since it can't be seen when it's stored.

After you milled all your parts to the correct size, there is a little more work to do with the side panel. First create the notches with a dado blade on your table saw. Make sure that you take your sweet time to do this step, it will pay off when putting the finishing touches. I routed the handle so it could be easily carried around. For the cat face, I took the plunge router to make the silhouette. I've made it 1/16" deep (half the depth of a single sheet in the plywood). That was just enough to create a fine contrast with the rest of the side panel.

The other addition I've made was the opening on the top bar to allow us to slide the box out since the fit would too tight to take it out otherwise.

When you have all you parts completed, sand them to 220 grit. Then I have glued the bottom bars in the notches and used 1.25" nails with a nail gun to secure them in place. Next step is to glue and nail the side bars in place. Let it dry for 24 hours and then go to the next step.

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Step 3: Sanding, Staining, Varnishing

When you have your box assembled, glued and dried, now is the most important part of any project : finishing.

First I sanded the whole thing with 220 grit paper so that all the joints are flush with each other and any remaining glue that I did not cleaned up at the previous stage is removed.

Now it's of the staining. Nobody like a boring pine color, it just doesn't look as nice. For this I used a colonial maple stain.

Finally when you've properly stained the box and that you are satisfied with the color, apply at least 2 coats of varnish inside and out. Once again, let it dry for 24 hours for each coat and moderately sand between your coats to remove and varnish droplets that might have settle in the drying process.

And then you have it, present to your wife/significant other and be the hero of the day !

Enjoy and keep making!

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