Freestanding Shelf




This sturdy, space-saving shelf fits inside a cupboard to create useful storage.

It's made from scrap MDF and some recycled IKEA shelf batons.

To build this project I used the following tools:

A bench hook (home-made)
Two wooden clamps (home-made too)
A saw
A chisel
A plane
A drill
A marking gauge
And a sharp pencil

Step 1: Cut Stock for Base

The size of this shelf was determined by the space in the cupboard and the width of the MDF plank I had (20cm).

The finished shelf dimensions are 50 x 40 x 20cm

The IKEA baton was cut into strips (ignore those random holes):

4 x 20 cm - legs
2 x 40 cm - rails
1 x 50 cm - stretcher

(If you're not using a table saw I'd only cut the top of the shelf after the base is constructed, in case of any inaccuracies)

Step 2: Cutting the Halving Joints

With the stock cut to size it's on to the joints.

There are no screws or fixings in the frame, the only thing holding it together is glue and the mechanical strength of the joints - so do your best to get them as accurate as possible.

Try cutting down the two lengths of the joint (pic 1) first, then remove the remaining triangle of material.

Cut the shoulder of the joint (pic 2)

And clean up the result with a sharp chisel (pic 4).

Repeat this with all four legs and the two stretchers, test fitting and marking each pair of joints.

Step 3: The Stretcher Joints

The stretcher sits half way between the base of the leg and the base of the halving joint.

These joints were cut with a chisel. I don't know what these are called (half-lapped T, perhaps) but they worked well with the wood. They fitted very snugly and held the back legs firm without glue.

Step 4: The Glue Up

With everything prepared, glue the legs to the rails.

And, depending on the number of clamps you own (or have built) glue the stretcher to the side sections (the plank across the top in pic 2 is to keep everything square).

With the frame finished, cut the board for the shelf, drill the pilot holes for the screws, countersink the holes, add screws and your done!

All that remains is to give it a nice Swedish name.

Mines called Hampus.



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    11 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    OK, its a shelf... (on legs).
    (From your own link: "It is raised off the ground and usually anchored/supported on its shorter length sides by brackets")

    5 replies
    matt byrneQuick-tune

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    From Wiki: ..." It is raised off the ground and usually anchored/supported on its shorter length sides by brackets. It can also be held up by columns or pillars."

    Yes, it really is a shelf, or more specifically a "freestanding shelf" as I put in the title.You know, just like the ones you might buy in Ikea, but in this case with a single shelf.

    Hope that's cleared up any confusion.


    I tend to agree with Quick-tune that it's a table. Not that it really matters much, it's still a great project and a very useful item. It also illustrates the blurry lines in the world of furniture.

    For instance. This item could be used a shelf in a cabinet or on top of a counter to hold a small appliance or a desk to to hold a printer. It could be used on the floor as a step for a child to brush their teeth. If you flipped it over and put sides on it you could call it a crate, or add a top and call it a box. You could stand it on it's side, put drawers in it and call it a dresser. You could even call it a table. Set it on your desk and put your laptop on it and you have a stand up desk. It looks like something with no shortage of uses.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I like your recycling ideas. Have you ever thought of entering a contest?