Introduction: IKEA HACK | $40 Kallax Shelf Becomes Upscale Bench Seating | DIY Build.

A while back I was working at the dining room table, since that is where I do most of my computer work now , at home during COVID. Because even a home office feels like an office, so I like to work in my kitchen, where the coffee is at :)

I really wanted some built in seating to save space and to add cosiness around our breakfast and dinner times,and I wanted powerplugs in whatever piece of furniture was going to live here

This instructable shows how to HACK the IKEA KALLAX shelf and turn it into bench seating.


circular saw (with a guide of you have it) to break down the plywood into strips

table saw if you have it, to rip strips of the hardwood for the back. if not you can buy most of these strips ready made at the store

a hammer

a corded drill and pocket hole jig to add lots of hidden holes within the piece, so no visible fasteners are used.

pencil and tape measure, for accuracy

long clamps or some ratchet straps to clamp down some of the longer pieces when glueing them up.

a handplane or simply an electrical sander to sand all the edges before painting


- 2 full sheets of plywood 250 x 120cm (everything gets painted white, so it can be cheapo plywood)

- 2 wall mountable power outlets and about 3m worth of power cord

- 10 strips of oak 4 mm thick, 30mm wide and about 3m long

- 10 strips of pine, 4mm thick, 11mm wide and about 3m long

- some 3cm x 3cm thick hardwood, it can be anything really since it will be painted, you need about 3 meters of this as well

- about 50 wooden dowels, 8mm diameter

- big jar of wood glue since you´ll be using a lot of it.

- about 15 wood screws of about 4 cm each to attach all the parts together after glueing.

- about 1 liter of white primer

-about 1 liter of white lack paint

Step 1: STEP 1: Buy and Assemble an Ikea KALLAX Shelving Unit

I ended up doing this step together with my kids and it´s way more efficient to do this without kids, but you get sillier uses for the Kallax shelf when you do it with them.

It was a boat, a hiding cave and also a canoe by the time we were done.

Step 2: Step 2: Build the Side Boxes

The first extra pieces are the 2 side boxes, mine had power in them but this is not a must.
If you do, then definitely leave the back sides of the box slightly open, so that the power wire can go in from the back.

Cut the first sheet of plywood down, using a circular saw and some form of straight edge, until you have 8 sides (for 2 boxes ) that are as high and wide as the KALLAX shelf´s sides are.
you can find the other exact sizes of the kallax shelf on the ikea website

The youtube video shows more details than my silly words ever could.

In my case this build needed to fit in between two other cabinets, so I added side boxes that are approx. about 30 cm wide, if you do not have the contraints of working between stuff then feel free to make your bench as wide as you like.

Then glue and screw both boxes together using pocket holes, so you don´t see the screws in the final design.

Step 3: Step 3: Cutting the Seating Area, A.K.A Where Your Butt Goes.

Cut out a large piece of plywood using the circular saw and some form of straight edge for the seating area and use whatever wood you have lying around, or use more small strips cut from the same sheet of plywood, to add visual thickness to the seat. to make it go from 18mm which is the thickness of the playwood to about 30mm thick.

for the depth of the bench, the part your butt sits on, check around your house and find a comfortable seat, then measure how deep the seating part is on that seat and copy the design for your bench.

I laid all the strips out on the table, they were cut to the same with as the bench seat, then added all ton of wood glue and laid the plywood on top.

Then stack lots and lots of weight on it to act as a clamp or grab an elderly neighbour and have them read a book on top of it.

Step 4: Step 4: Add Hardwood Edges to the Seat Part

If you also want to add hardwood edges to this design then try and get ahold of some strips of hardwood in that thickness. 30mm in my case,

If you happen to have a table saw then you can buy bigger pieces of hardwood and cut the strips out yourself. But for the non regular crafter/DIYer these can be both in the right dimensions at a hardware store or lumber yard.

The hardwood edges, oak in this case, are attached using wooden dowels, I marked the plywood and hardwood about every 30 cm and then drilled holes in both, so the dowel could be inserted.

the dowels help with lining up both pieces after the glue is applied.
Then hammer in all the dowels and use ratchet straps or big clamps to hold it all together until the glue is dried.

In case you go with just plywood, when it is time to finish the design, then you can simply sand the edges down so they are smooth, or you can buy glue-on edge banding that goes on just by going over it with a clothing iron. Attach the seat to the bottom boxes using the same pocket hole technique to hide your screws

Step 5: Step 5: Decorating the Back of the Seat

Fist cut a piece of plywood that fits your back and lay it down and gather a lot of heavy things, that can be used as clamps when glueing all these small wooden strips on. Then proceed with glueing about 40 strips of wood on the back plywood panel.

I went with alternating oak and pine strips, using all the glue in the known universe and using every heavy thing in my workshop to clamp it for an hour.

then the back gets attached to the seat in similar fashion.(in my case i made about 6 degree angle to the back for comfortable seating.?

Step 6: Step 6. Positive Stop at the Back

When pushing the BRANÄS (or whatever you end up putting in this shelf) boxes you want them to have a thing to stop against, so I attached a simple strip of wood to have them stop and not go through to the back.

Step 7: Step 7: Enjoy

After squeezing the bench in between two cabinet it was time to take some pinteresty pictures of it,

fill the boxes and beg my wife to make a cushion for the bench.

We ordered some foam online and then she sewed the red and white cover for it.
I do not detail the pillow process here, since I do not know anything about it really :)

then put some pillows on there, or your favorite cat, cuddly animal or a person if that is the object of your desire.

Good luck building!

PS: the youtube video explains the whole shabang better than this text.