Instructables

Stolmen and Ekby compression bookshelf system

Featured
[Better project-complete photos added.]

An absurd set of requirements leads to a hacked compression shelving system for easy maneuverability and expansion.

Goals
Recently I 'earned' some upgraded bookshelves.  Having casually shopped shelving for a while, I knew I had some rather absurd requirements:
 
*  easy to break down and transport 
*  useful as a free-standing divider or against a wall
*  adjustable to varying ceiling heights
 
Inspiration
A few years ago I chanced across Julie Scheu's "pogo" free-standing bookshelves.  I wanted them immediately.  Since they were a commissioned piece for a gallery in New York, I opted to build my own version.  In metal.  From ikea parts.
 
While researching compression shelving (the official vocab, it seems), I found sites devoted to pre-built systems.  Most were for commercial use—boring and expensive at the same time.  Thankfully, a site comparing compression shelving referenced ikeahacker and Lucien's stolmen/jarpen shelves.  Hack-tastic!
 
I integrated the two ideas using Ikea's Ekby shelves, Stolmen poles & brackets and some alternate parts.  Identifying the alternate parts was a chore, due to Ikea's habit of not providing schematics.  However I'm happy to share the results of my trial-and-error process that will hopefully make things smoother for any other ikeahackers using Stolmen parts.

Let's begin the short 'n sweet tour.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
oaskul2 years ago
I made sure to make the bottom feet flush, and my shelves have been standing and stacked full of books for over 6 months without problems. Thanks!
Clayfig4 years ago
looks like the poles that your whole project is based on are no longer available i think, you link is dead for sure
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20179940/

Different color, but looks like the same pole.
Yea, looks like the poles from Ikea is no longer available. Is there any alternative? I am having difficulty to find alternative tension pole from the Internet.
tiffehr (author)  beyonddc3 years ago
I had trouble finding the Stolmen ones. We all may be out of luck, then. Perhaps Craigslist would have someone selling a used Stolmen line.
Berkana4 years ago
 You see that gap between the floor and the bottom of the pole? That's what I'm talking about. Close that gap; the pole should be resting directly on the feet. If you don't, that plastic end piece where the bolt is threaded through will fatigue and fail within a year. It can't take the sustained weight of a load of books.
tiffehr (author)  Berkana4 years ago
 Ah!  Good call.  I do need to reinforce them.  Now that I have my books up, it gives me a better idea of the weight involved.  I'm going to get replacement tube-ends for the bottom, I think.  It's hard to tell from my mobile phone photos but there's a 'locking' nut between the bottom foot and the tube-end.  So that would be the weight-bearing part, which is still not wide enough should the plastic fail. 

Thanks for adding your concerns!  Very, very helpful.
Berkana tiffehr4 years ago
 My suggestion is to not rely on the locking nut; let the foot rest entirely on the end cap, and extend the tube upwards to lock it in place, rather than extending that bolt downwards to push the rest of the tube up.
tiffehr (author)  Berkana4 years ago
So now I have a 1/4"-thick metal washer standing in for a new tube end, in the meantime.   Before I added the washers, there didn't seem to be any ill effects on the plastic tube end (yet) but it was a mere month.  

I also have at least one more entire shelf of books that need a home.  May turn that into a supplemental project on here, depending on how ambitious I get.
scorby Berkana4 years ago
I would like to second (and 3rd and 4th) what Berkana said, for exactly the same reason.  I learned the hard way, LFMF.
 are the polls then tension mounted b/w the floor and the ceiling? so that you're not actually drilling a whole in the floor or ceiling to install the shelving system?
 Exactly, the pressure simply keeps the feet in place. That's the big advantage of compression poles :)
icerabbit4 years ago
Love the project.

However, without additional fastening - like a hidden attachment arm / bracket somewhere higher up, securing it to the wall behind it  - I don't think this is a safe setup.

I have sincere doubts this will not tip over at some point, unless it were secured with flanges / feet with screw holes at the floor & ceiling. You can't set much tension so as to not damage the ceiling, ...

Just my cautious 2c.
56dustbunny4 years ago
I really wanna do this but it comes out to be pretty pricey, awesome hack. I'm gonna keep this bookmarked for future project. Great choice of beer to work with :)
tiffehr (author)  56dustbunny4 years ago
 Turns out this little project got picked up by a few home-improvement/gadget blogs.  The commentors (not all of which are as cool as y'all—some assume I'm a dude) offer some alternatives, some of which are indeed less expensive. There are a few I wish I'd found when I was in my research phase.

CrunchGear
Unpluggd/Apartment Therapy
Lifehacker

My favorite thus far is  Elizabeth and Dave's DIY Pipe Shelving

OMG I was so pissed at the comment on the Unpluggd/Apartment Therapy post that I had to comment back in your defense !
freakshow174 years ago
In regards to oyur DOGFISH HEAD BARLEY STOUT - I believe that is an official Irish Unit of Measure
urwatuis4 years ago
seems to me the inexpensive alternative is to use 1.5" PVC pipe, 12" wide pine shelving, and hose clamps. It may not have spring loaded tension poles but I think it would be possible to have adjustable poles using threaded pipe fittings and threaded rod. I would try 5/16ths or 3/4 threaded rod for adjusting the feet with strong support. A can of silver spray paint would give a nice metal look if thats what you like. I bet you could do the same project for $50 or less per shelf unit.
chello2k94 years ago
I would like to see alternatives material used, the price of this shelf is a little much, but the shelf itself looks nice. 
Berkana4 years ago
 This is the part of my Solmen set that failed when my shelves collapsed. Make sure this is entirely resting on the feet; the bolt and plastic cap should not be load bearing, because they will eventually fail and collapse into the tube.
Berkana4 years ago
 I've done this before using the Stolmen poles, however, I have an important warning for those who try this.

My shelf collapsed after several months; the plastic caps at the bottom failed, and fell into the poles. There is a very important trick you need to do to prevent this from happening: Make sure the bottom screw and foot are all the way into the pole, so the weight being transferred through the pole rests directly on the foot without having to go through the bolt. If you don't, the plastic will fatigue, and eventually fail. When it does, the poll will fall, the top will no longer be supported on top, and your Stolmen set will fall, scattering your books everywhere.
Jayefuu4 years ago
Brilliant first ible! I love how well written it is and that you gave credit where credit's due in all the right places. Awesome looking shelves. :D
chella4484 years ago
I much prefer your shelves to these but i'm on a tight budget so..
http://www.frontgate.com/jump.jsp?itemID=25478&itemType=PRODUCT&path=1,2,137,138,&iProductID=25478&k=XX23159

kirnex4 years ago
 Love this project! Thanks for posting this.  

And, just my opinion, but I like the looks of yours better than the shelves that inspired you.
tiffehr (author) 4 years ago
 Okay, better daylight images uploaded.
Its beautiful. Very well done, piece of art. I'm wondering if whoever your design inspires next can bring down the price tag though. Well done. 5/5 
tiffehr (author)  blakeredfield4 years ago
 Skipping the custom threaded-foot hardware and a non-metal shelf helps a lot.  That would probably knock $100 off the price.  I need to take a better photo tomorrow....my photo doesn't convey that the two shelves I built take up fairly large walls.
oakback4 years ago
I bought a corner shelf unit for a bathroom that does just this, a spring-loaded telescoping pole that presses between ceiling and floor.  It was cheap (not sure how much though, it was several years ago), and I'm sure two of these could be modified into bookshelves.
 Good beer choice!  Nice shelves too.  You've given me an idea of how to mount my electronic drumset.
Zansion4 years ago
 Awesome! 5/5!
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!