Introduction: Tetris Shelves


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Having seen a bunch of examples of these that other people on the internet had made (that although awesome, were waaaaaay too expensive) I had a crack at my own take on the idea.

I made some prototypes a couple of years ago, but the colours didn't pop as much as I'd hoped, and I've got more tools now.

Here's how I made mine....

Stuff I used:

  • Table saw
  • Steel rule
  • Squares
  • Knife
  • Router + dovetail bit
  • Dovetail Jig
  • Wood glue
  • Paint
  • 12mm MDF - 8ft x 4ft sheet
  • 3mm MDF - 6ft x 2ft sheet
  • PPE - dust mask / googles / ear defenders

Step 1: Design

When you think about it, each Tetris block can be broken down into four equal squares.

I decided each square would be 160mm2, and be 150mm deep (good for CD's).

*UPDATE* After making a few more sets of these for other people the ideal unit size is 224mm, as this fits DVD's n' stuff */UPDATE*

I took to AutoCAD and drew up some plans.

I chose to use 12mm MDF, and they'd be backed with 3mm MDF. The joints would be dovetailed as they're nice and strong, and not that hard when you've got a router and a dovetail jig. (you can get away with rabbit joints though)

Once I was happy I wrote all the measurements down as a "shed reference sheet" and took to my little workshop.

Step 2: Cut MDF to Size

I gathered up all the bits of 12mm MDF I had left over from other projects and cut it into 150mm strips with a table saw. I reckon you'd have enough to make a full set of 7 blocks from an 8ft x 4ft sheet.

I marked out the lengths allowing for a bit off each end, and ticked them off my reference sheet as I worked. It's a good idea to have a few extra lengths handy as the occasional cock up is pretty inevitable.

*UPDATE* If you haven't got a table saw don't do this with a jigsaw...Use a hand saw, a square, and a tonne of patience. You really do have to be spot on, and there's too much flex in a jigsaw blade */UPDATE*

They then got cut to length on the table saw using a template piece for each length to ensure they came out the same.

Take your time with this. If your pieces aren't spot on it'll have a knock on effect on the angles later.

Then with a couple of passes through the table saw I cut rebates for the back panel into each piece. Alternatively use a router with a rebating bit.

USE THE BLADE GUARD ON YOUR TABLE SAW!!! I only took mine off briefly to cut the rebate for the back panel.

Step 3: Cut Joints

I then labeled up which pieces were next to each can get pretty confusing so it's good idea to mark, cut, and glue one block at a time.

Then I set up the dovetail jig, testing and tweaking it with some offcuts until the joints are coming out just right. I chose to use 6mm dovetails.

*UPDATE* dovetails are a bit over the top, you can get away with just rebating each edge 6mm and doing a rabbit joint with some pins, glue, and plenty of clamps. */UPDATE*

Then a long day of cutting joints! Make sure you're fully covered in your PPE, as this stage is very dusty...and MDF dust is nasty stuff.

Step 4: Glue Em Together

I used "Resintite" wood glue. Just use plenty of clamps and keep checking everything's square.

For the more complicated shapes you'll want to do the gluing in a few phases. Maybe make a jig to help you along too.

You'll have a little bit of play in the joints before you put the back panels on, but it can't hurt to get em as accurate as possible now.

I scraped the glue on the inside joints off now, as sanding it off later would have been a nightmare.

Step 5: Back Panels & Filler

Simply cut the back panels to fit each piece.

I measured the channels on each block and copied it onto some 3mm MDF using squares and suchlike. Get it as square and accurate as possible as the back panels will hold it in shape.

3mm MDF isn't the toughest material in the world so with a bit of persistence I got through it with a knife & a straight edge.

Then I glued them in place, wiping the glue off the inside

Once that was dry I rubbed in a good amount of filler, and it all got a good sanding (use a dust mask).

Step 6: Paint

Before painting I gave each surface a wipe with damp cloth to get the dust off.

Then I gave each block a couple of coats of primer, sanding with 240grit after each coat.

I went for the "Tetris worlds" colour all the other versions have a magenta (pink!) block. I thought I'd give spray paint a chance as I found it hard to get a smooth finish with brushes on my first set.

Spray paint was virgin territory for me, so I checked out this instructable.

Basically....spray at about 6inches & perpendicular to the surface, wear a good quality mask, and it's better to do lots of thin coats instead of fewer thick coats.

Step 7: Finished!

And there we go!

The long piece came out more green than cyan, but other than that I'm really pleased with them, and added to my old set they're well on their way to making it to the ceiling!


crazedinventor made it!(author)2016-04-05

Hi, this looks amazing, both my son and I are Tetris mad. I, however, have minimal DIY skills - is there anywhere that I could buy this/ could you make one for me?

epalacios05 made it!(author)2015-09-19

What spray paint did you use? Where did you buy them?

KimberlyC1 made it!(author)2015-05-19

Can I order this? I wished I have the skills in making something like this.

jaimee378065 made it!(author)2015-04-13

Do you know what exact brands and colors of spray paint you used?

cdevildevil made it!(author)2015-02-24

Putting a square block right on top of that hole at the top would really drive people crazy. I think I might do it :D

tomas75a made it!(author)2015-02-23

What are dovetails?? Never heard about that. Cool project though! I like it:)

JohnnieT made it!(author)2015-02-23

Really nice!!

kjsrocks made it!(author)2015-02-22

Be sure to screw them together and screw them into the wall.

You wouldnt want it to fall over

Cotixtof made it!(author)2015-02-22

Great! If all possible, where can I get the autocad files? Chris

Cairdy+Crafts made it!(author)2015-02-17

A very well documented, commented and photoed Instructable! The geek in me loves the way the Tetris pieces stack together, and the CDs storage part looks so good! I'd love to give something like this a go sometime, but until then, great job introducing, recording and explaining the steps!

starforest made it!(author)2015-02-16

Wouldn't the shelves be some what unstable because they're just stacked on top of each other? If one shelf at the top had more weight on it then the ones at the bottom wouldn't it fall off?

dan3008 made it!(author)2014-07-03

I want now :D... Just droped you an email requesting a quote. I dont really have the needed tools to do it myself lol

motherprune made it!(author)2014-06-14


cobbledbeard made it!(author)2014-06-13

Its exceptional

mousepaper made it!(author)2014-06-12

Its exceptional

mousepaper made it!(author)2014-06-12

Its exceptional

Christopherhenson88 made it!(author)2014-06-11

Thats fabulous

gorgeddamp made it!(author)2014-06-09


illrings made it!(author)2014-05-26


airbugger made it!(author)2014-05-22

Its phenomenal

williamsjavellana made it!(author)2014-05-19


headlymph made it!(author)2014-05-08


tealrink made it!(author)2014-05-08


grousebandit made it!(author)2014-05-05

Its breathtaking :)

harechubby made it!(author)2014-04-28


clapfilk made it!(author)2014-04-07


cheshirecorn made it!(author)2014-04-04


NumerologyAnswers made it!(author)2014-04-03


spongeraffle made it!(author)2014-04-02

Thats exceptional...

workexaminer made it!(author)2014-03-28

Thats calme

gazumpglue made it!(author)2014-02-02

Awesome project! Looks like I will be making a set. One question, I didn't see any dovetails, did you mean rabbet's?

tmiddlecoat made it!(author)2013-11-21

wish i had the room to get a set!

Mariska+Botha made it!(author)2013-09-04

Excellent design, love it so much.

BunnyRoger made it!(author)2013-09-03

So cool!! Wish I was a bit more of a handyman or carpenter to do this for my kids' room.

Amanda+Culbert made it!(author)2013-09-02

This is amazing, Love this Instructable!!

MAApleton made it!(author)2013-08-29

Oh wow, I absolutely love this!!!! It looks so incredible.

My+Diet+Area made it!(author)2013-08-03

Don't lower your standards! You've done a really good job there.

p3jawors made it!(author)2013-04-29

Are the different blocks connected at all or are they just stacked onto each other?

HicksCustomFurniture made it!(author)2013-04-30

Stacked, so they can be rearrange for different spaces...or if you're feeling playful!

Muhaiminah+Faiz made it!(author)2013-03-31

Super cool and awesome!

error42 made it!(author)2013-03-27

Saving this for when my son is older...awesome!

Giedow made it!(author)2013-02-16

just awesome!

2ManyProjects made it!(author)2013-02-05

Awesome project! Looks like I will be making a set. One question, I didn't see any dovetails, did you mean rabbet's?

HicksCustomFurniture made it!(author)2013-02-06

Check out step 3 bro.

bobble293 made it!(author)2013-01-26

Don't lower your standards! You've done a really good job there. I'd bet on your dovetails against most other construction methods for strength!

sajeffe made it!(author)2013-01-25

Voted this project up. Love it. Beautiful work.

agis68 made it!(author)2013-01-25

love it too!!!

MJAussie360 made it!(author)2013-01-24

Love it!!

anothercindy made it!(author)2013-01-24

Beauty idea! Too bad you'll have to spoil them by actually putting things in the spaces.

vhcl made it!(author)2013-01-24

The quality of your work is superb!!

Thanks for sharing!!

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