Introduction: Transforming a Changing Table Into a Display Case

About: So many things to learn and make, so little time! I like things that are cool, useful, efficient, well crafted.

Years ago, we bought a "Sniglar" Ikea changing table (photo in the next step). The frame was made of very nice beech wood bars, so, when our babies became potty trained, I stored all pieces of the table somewhere...

I am also a modest collector of vintage pocket computers and calculators. This year, with a friend, we decided, for the Advent, to show each day in turn a piece of our respective collections.

To display our joined collection nicely, I decided to transform the changing table into a display case. The former table consisted of two frames, each one with an MDF board, held by a groove into the frame. So it was mostly a matter of replacing one board by a glass plate, and putting the frames together.

Instead of using a "Sniglar" Ikea table, I guess that two large drawers could be used too.

The result is a surprisingly high quality stylish display case. It is quite heavy and very stable, hence rather meant for standing than wall-mounted.

And last but not least it is back-lit by LED bands!

Step 1: Needed Stuff

For the frame:
  • the Sniglar Ikea changing table. Or two large drawers. Hard wood bars will do it too.
For the shelves:
  • One plate of plastic, 3 mm thick.
  • L-profiled soft wood bars
  • Hard wood bars
  • Shelf supports
For the door:
  • Glass plate, cut to size by the shop
  • Hinges. Ideally, hinges that can be sunken. This way, the frame can stand on the side with the hinges.
For the lights:
  • LED bands, and dedicated power supply
  • Some electronics wires
  • Break-away male connectors
  • Stripboard (small area, possibly leftovers)
For the finish:
  • Spray paint, linseed oil, a few screws.

Step 2: Planning the Work

Good preparation and planning is the key to success!

On my fav vector drawing software, I designed the shelves by drawing their cross section. So I could model the number of shelves, their spacing, slanting, and how to bind them to the frame.

Step 3: Making the Sides

The sides are two black plastic plates (3 mm thick) fitted on the inner side of the frames. Their role is to hold the shelves, and to give a uniform optical black surface.

Each side has one hole per shelf, in which the wooden bars will be inserted and rotate like axles.

For each shelf, there is one shelf support tightened by a screw, which I painted black.

Step 4: Making the Shelves

Each shelf consists of:
  • One black plastic plate (3 mm thick)
  • For the front edge, one L-profiled wood bar
  • For the back edge (and acting as pivotal axle) one rectangular-profiled hard wood bar, slightly longer than the shelf
The wooden bar are painted before being glued.
The plastic is sanded where the bar get glued to improve sticking.

Step 5: Fastening the Frames

The original table was tightened by screws crossing the legs. Because we no longer use the legs, it was necessary to pre-drill holes for new screws.

Some holes for dowels remained unused, so I filled them with dowels that I cut and sanded.

Step 6: Oiling and Painting

All wooden parts left natural have been oiled with linseed oil.

The back board got two layers of black spray paint on the inner side.

Step 7: Adding the Hinges

After dismounting the frames, I taped the two long sides meant to get the hinges.

The position of the holes were carefully drawn.

With a special drill bit, the holes were bored. Then the hinges were screwed.

Step 8: Adding the Latches

Positions have to be determined in order to get a very slight tension (but not too much!) when the latches are closed.

Step 9: Adding the Glass, Final Assembly

Time to place the sides and the shelves into the frame, and close the back frame with screws.

Then, the glass plate is carefully washed and inserted into the grooves of the front frame. Finally the last side gets tightened.

Basically, the display case is finished.

However, having opted for a black inner color, there is a lot of reflections on the glass, so an inner backlight looks very necessary.

Step 10: Adding Lights

Each shelf (except the bottom one) and the top part of the frame are getting a LED band on their bottom side.

The LED bands that I found consist of  1 meter strips of transparent plastic, containing LEDs (connected in parallel by groups of 3 LEDs in series) and their resistors. The backside of the bands has adhesive foam. The bands can be powered in series or in parallel with a dedicated 12 V supply.

Because they are meant to be directly connected together, I had to use some extra wires, break-away male connectors, and small pieces of stripboard to solder properly. A jack on the backside allows to plug the power supply.

All must be carefully tested to avoid shorts, before plugging the power supply!

Step 11: Finished Product

Time to show off both the display case, and the collection!

Step 12: Extra Bonus

The four legs of the former changing table are remaining unused (but there is an idea for an upcoming project).

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