Introduction: Built in Wall Hexagon Shelves


This is my first instructable, so sorry for newbie mistakes, and feel free to comment.

When decorating my daughters playroom/livingroom, far end wall had a chimney shoot in right side corner, creating quite a big recess on the other side. I've decided to fill the whole recessed area in a plasterboard hexagon shelves. During the building process my phone died and I've lost most of the early stage pictures, but I'll try to explain each step as best as I can.


Below is a list of supplies that I've used. Use it as a reference if you want to do copy my idea. Amount will differ depending on the size of your project, and materials will be different if you live in other area or country.

* Pencil

* Calculator

* Wall Finishing Plaster (AKRYL PUTZ 2IN1 GYPSUM PLASTER ST10 20KG WHITE) - I've got from Polish Builder Supplies "Mrowka" not far from me. 2 bags £14.90 each

* Plasterboard Tapeless Joint Compound (CEKOL C-40 TAPELESS JOINT COMPOUND (66PP) 4.5KG READY TO USE) - again "Mrowka". 1 bucket for £15.95

* Plasterboard steel profiles - UD-30 3m, I've brought 25 for £2.40 each from "Mrowka" as it was the cheapest. This is actually a ceiling profile, wall profiles are wider than this one.

* Plasterboard boards - 2400 x 1200 x 12.5 mm - Qty. 8. £8 each in local building merchant.

* Self Drill Drywall Screws - 3.5 x 25mm. 2 boxes of 1000 for £7.55 each from "Mrowka".

* Metal cutters - Mines are Stanley STA214563 Aviation Snip - Straight 2-14-563 £10.99 on

* Plasterboard saw -I've used STANLEY FATMAX Folding Jab Saw -brought on offer for £4.99, normal price just over £10.

* Trowel - I've used brick trowel as it's longer and narrower than ordinary plasterboard trowel. Easier to reach corners, and there's lots of them. Aprrox. £7

* Steel angle finder/ruler. This needs to be lockable to make sure you've got the same angle all the time. Another option is to make permanent template of 60 deg. £5-6.

* Plasterboard rasp/shaver - I've used Stanley 367023-STX Surform Shaver Tool 5 21 115 this little baby cost only £3.40 on amazon UK.

* Primer - ATLAS AVAL KT17 5L UNI GRUNT PRIMER from "Mrowka" £12.20 for 5 litre bottle

* Drill - I assume every DIY'er here got this.

* Wall plugs with screw 4 or 5 mm.

Not essential but very helpful ,especially for those with poor plastering skills:

* Dust mask - anything is better than nothing, but I recommend a face mask with filters.

Total cost for this project was just over £200, that's for all the materials, and some tools that I didn't possess at that time.

Step 1: Step 1: Measuring

This is the step when you test your math skills.

I wanted my shelves to be full size (height) and halves, as I believe that's the most optimum layout, without any odd shapes.

To find the most suitable height of my shelves, I've created a few cardboard hexagon templates of different height, and placed them against some of the girls toys to have some sort of idea what and how much could I fit. I've decided to go for 45 cm.

Knowing this value, thickness of the profile and thickness of the plasterboard, we can start the fun part- calculations :). Here's my maths:

wall height = 2440 mm

desired shelf height - 450 mm

To make 5 shelves I need to make 4 horizontal pieces between shelves, bottom piece, and top piece, therefore:

Plasterboard thickness = 12.5 mm

Profile thickness = 30 mm

Middle piece = profile + top board and bottom board = 30 + 2*(12.5)= 55 mm

Top and bottom piece = profile + board = 30 + 12.5 = 42.5 mm

Adding everything together: 4*55 + 2* 42.5 = 305 mm.

Now to find out the exact size of the shelf that'll fit without any odd shapes, I've deducted thickness of all horizontal pieces from the height of the wall.

2440 - 305 = 2135 mm.

Now this can be divided by number of shelves:

2135 / 5 = 427 mm. This is the actual height of my shelves.

Above calculation needs to be change to suit your project !!!

Step 2: Step 2: Drawing

Knowing the height of my shelves, I've drawn a horizontal template lines at the back wall. I've had a picture of the full drawing, but as I mentioned earlier, it's not with me anymore. To start I've drawn a horizontal line 42.5 mm from the floor. That's the bottom of the full size shelves. (42.5 mm is a profile + board). Another horizontal line was 427 mm above this line, this will be the top of the first full size shelves, counting from the floor. Another line I've made was 55 mm higher (profile + board *2), and that's the bottom of the next full size shelve. And another one 427 mm higher and so on, marking top and bottom of each horizontal piece between all of the the full size shelves. When that was done, I've drawn couple of more lines in the middle of the 427 mm lines - that's the centre of the horizontal pieces for the columns that starts (and ends) with half shelf.

That's all the horizontal lines I needed. Now the sides of the shelves. I've decided that I want the shelves on the left side to end at 90 deg. against the wall to maximise space and to make my project a little bit easier. But also, I wanted my shelves to be as much true hexagon as possible. So I've used online calculator like the one linked below, to find the size of the bottom and top piece, knowing the height.

online hexagon calculator

There was no manual calculations involved there. Calculator showed me that my bottom piece should be equal to 246.5 mm. I've rounded that up to 250 mm, and using steel angled ruler set at 60 deg., I've marked angled lines starting from the bottom right side of my recessed wall and moving towards the left end. Remember to draw another line or offset your lines by 55 mm - thickness of the wall shelf (profile + 2* board). Lucky for me, my shelves ended exactly how I wanted, so I've drawn shelf wall lines all over the back wall.

Yes, I know that's a lot of lines. It looks like a mess but with a little bit of imagination you can visualise your final product. And, but once you start attaching profiles to the back wall it'll get clearer.

My good advice is to take your time at this step! Every mistake can cost a lot of lost time later on.

Step 3: Step 3: Creating a Back End of the Frame.

Again, no original pictures for this step, but will try to find some other stuff to explain how to do it my way. I'm not saying it's the best way, but worked for me :)

Using all the lines drawn earlier, I've created a back end of the steel shelf frame. Instead of cutting very short pieces from every profile and attaching them individually to the wall, I've placed the whole 2.4 m long profile back against the wall, marked on the side where it needs to be bent (double checking if I'm using correct line on the wall), and I've cut the opposite side to the bend and the back. CUT only 2 sides! As shown on one of the pictures. Red lines marked where to cut, and green one is a place where profile is going to bend. Another picture shows how it looks like on the wall, with red lines marking side when profile was bent.

I've bent and cut approx. two sections, and I've noticed that it's getting really wobbly and hard to keep it in place while measuring another angle. At this point I've attached the end of the profile to the wall to keep it steady, and carried on with another (3rd) bent. When profile became too wobbly you can attach it in another place to secure it, you should still have enough play to cut another angle. Doing it this way makes it easier to attach profile to the wall as you don't need so many screws per profile. I've been trying to use the whole length (2.4 m) of the profile without cutting, but I've had only one drill, and I've had enough of changing bits all the time, so I did 3-5 sections at a time. After doing all the long profile runs, I've completed building a steel back of the shelves frame by filling missed gaps with shorter pieces. Remember you can leave a small gaps in the areas where three sides comes together. This will not have any effect when everything's done. My advice for this step: "Try to make as longest runs as possible. Having less gaps means less screws in the wall = less drilling = quicker progression to another step".

Step 4: Step 4. Making 3D Steel Frame.

Once the back frame is complete, another step is to complete front of the frame, creating a 3D model of the shelves. I've measured depth of my shelves by measuring a depth of the recessed area minus 2 mm, this will give me some room for mistakes and uneven wall. I've cut couple of short pieces from the profile. These will go inside the walls and floors of the shelves. I didn't made such long profile runs as at the back, as it is quite difficult to keep everything nice and square while screwing it together. I've measured the total length of three back sides and cut that length from the profile adding 30-40 mm at each end. The extra bit is needed to attach each individual piece together. To attach two front profiles together, I've cut out the middle section of the profile so sides can be bend sideways as shown on the picture. Black X area needs to be cut out at the ends. Now, copy the profile bends from the back, and using the short pieces cut earlier and self tapping screws, screw everything together. My advice is to start from the bottom as you can use floor as a support and there you can go for profile runs longer than 3 sections. For my shelves I've placed two wall piece inside the "floor" sections of the shelves, and one in each wall section. While screwing everything together, I was using spirit level to keep shelves bottoms :) flat. Equal width is all about measurements of cuts, ideally these should be a mirror image of the back side :) . The more accurate and square your frame will be, the less issues you'll encounter at the next stage.

I've had three long strips of plywood, approx. size 30 x 100 cm lying around from different job. As I moved up with the skeleton, I've used these to support lower parts of the frame and keep everything squared. I've been screwing these boards to the front of the frame that I've made, and moving it up as frame goes higher.

Step 5: Step 5: Covering the Frame.

Now it's time to cover the steel 3D frame with plasterboard.

I've measured bottom piece first (but any side will do), cut it out from the plasterboard and than screw it into the frame. Next I've done the same with top and wall sides. I've always left a little bit sticking out at the front, and once it's screwed it, I've used rasp to file it flat with the edge of the front profile. Knowing my plastering skill, or maybe should I say, lack of my plastering skills, I was trying to minimise gaps between sides. To do this, I've been cutting slightly wider pieces of plasterboard, and using rasp angled them to fit nicely with adjacent sides. While screwing boards into the frame I've had couple of cracked corners. I've minimised that later by creating small holes with the drill bit at the back of the plasterboard where screw heads were sticking out. Lucky for me, none of the cracks I've had was wider than the profile, which means I didn't had to replace any of the boards. I've scraped cracked parts of the plasterboard and filled it with plasterboard filler when all sides were in place. Once I had all shelves insides covered in plasterboard and squared with the front edge of the profile, I've used leftover plasterboard pieces to do the fronts. I've been screwing the spare pieces from the front, making sure none of the joints will end in the point where three sides comes together to avoid having gaps where there's no support behind. Then, using saw I've cut front boards out and filed with rasp where needed.

I know my daughters quite well, and I know exactly what they'll do when no-ones watching, I've decided to perform a strength test on these shelves. Me, being a middle age, medium size man, 1.8 m tall and at that time of the test slightly over 90 kg of weight (now a little less :) ),I've climbed on the shelves and walked from one side to another like on the climbing frame. I've heard very quiet noises, probably from profiles connections when they slightly moves, but everything is super solid and nothing cracked or broke. Test result: PASS !!!

Step 6: Step 6: Plastering and Painting

This was the worst step for me. I don't mind plastering, but because I'm not so good in this, there was a lot of sanding after. I've sanded all previously filled cracked corners, than I've used ready mixed tapeless compound to fill all the gaps between boards. Finally, I've used plaster to cover everything, and smooth it out with sandpaper once dry. Before painting, I've cleaned all dust from the shelves, especially from multiple corners, and covered everything with primer.

Step 7: Step 7: Conclusions

Shelves looks amazing. My biggest worry was a fact that corners of plaster boards can crack, and my daughters, will chip corners with harder toys. I did considered adding some edging strips, but this would increase thickness of the sections between shelves, slightly reduce shelving area and generates extra cost and work (more plastering :( ). These shelves has been used everyday by my three little nightmares, I mean princesses for approx. 18 months now, and there's couple small chips made when they moved hard boxes with toys, and one little hole at the bottom of one shelf from falling unicorn. I've made tetris shaped shelves on the other side of the wall, soon after these were finished, and since then when all boxes were removed from the floor, no new damage appeared on these shelves. So, generally speaking, I think these shelves aren't as brittle as I thought initially.

Below is a website for that polish builders website if someone want to get some more information about the products that I've used. I've used they're products mainly due to the prices. Profiles were over 50% cheaper than elsewhere, and when I went to collect these, I've brought all other stuff.

Mrowka building supplies


I strongly advise anyone who consider doing something similar, to reserve a quite significant amount of free time. I've started this project while working full time, doing college twice a week and looking after kids everyday. Which means that, I've had weeks when I've done nothing as there were a bigger priorities. Adding all of the above to the equation: From the start to the end, this room was "under construction" for approx. 18 months !!! Although, simultaneously to these shelves, I've been making a suspended cloud shaped ceiling with spot lights and multicoloured LED strip around the edge. But beware, it is very time consuming project.

Thank you.

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