IKEA KALLAX and PVC Workbench




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This workbench build uses two Ikea Kallax 4x2 shelves placed back-to-back. When I was moving into my new studio, I needed an easy modular workbench I could grow with and designed this project to assemble and disassemble easily.

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

For this build I used the following tools:

For this build I used the following parts and consumables:

PVC Base

Wood Frame

Step 2: Making Cuts

In my PVC class , I go over how to measure and plan your cuts. When working with PVC joints, you have to factor the air-gap in your connectors into the length of each span.

3D-modelling programs make it easy to calculate distances too (I use Fusion360 because it's free, and second because I'm an Autodesk employee :D).

I like to drag the 1-1/4" PVC connector models from Formufit into my model file, then can space and plan things quickly.

After my planning was complete, I determined that I needed the following lengths:

  • (12x) 12.5"
  • (15x) 9.5"
  • (4x) 2.5"

Step 3: Assembling Frame

I love working with PVC because it's lightweight, strong, and a bit like tinker toys. The tricky thing about working with PVC is being precise when lining up the pieces and making sure every pipe is completely nested into its connector. There are lots of tips that make joining PVC easier.

Using a dry erase marker to create registration lines for your connections is a great way to make sure you are able to maintain the alignment of your dry-fit parts.

It is best to construct one length at a time, working shortest to longest. Shorter connections are more difficult to manipulate after they have been cemented, so it is best to glue them first.

Lastly, get out dead blow hammer, you may need some help making sure your connections are complete and the PVC is all the way inserted into the coupler.

Step 4: Cutting Top and Bottom

My studio is small. Like very very small. Getting a 4x8 sheet of ply wood to lay flat amidst all the rest of my supplies was a challenge, but I made the best photographs I could to demonstrate my steps.

I cut down two sheets for the top and bottom.

The top measures: 35"x63"

The bottom measures: 32"x60"

Step 5: Making the Base

To attach the PVC supports and casters to the frame, I began by drilling shallow holes for my anti-vibration pipe clamps to mount to.

The squat little screws didn't have a large enough screw head to use with the clamps so I got some 1" fender washers to keep the clamps shut with the tiny screw.

Without cementing the caster joints in place, I used a dead-blow hammer to couple the remaining 'feet' of the frame. There was no space between 3-way elbow joint and the caster connector.

Step 6: Securing the Shelves

To prevent the shelves from splitting or moving apart from one another, I used flat corner braces to secure the units to one another.

To make sure I had no space between the two shelves, I used a ratchet strap to nest the two units back to back.

Once the shelving units were in place, I marked, drilled and anchored the corner braces into place.

I thought I would have to secure the shelves to the base, but it was so heavy that no additional anchors or hardware were needed. Thanks, gravity!

Step 7: Attaching the Top

To secure the top, I used short corner L-brackets and screws. If I ever needed or wanted to replace the top, I wanted to be able to swap the wood out easily, so I only used 4 L-brackets, one on each corner.

Step 8: Voila!

That's a wrap! IKEA makes specialty inserts for the Kallax series, but small milk crates also work great as drawers.

This has been a pending project in my studio for far too long, and I'm thrilled that it's finally complete. I hope to share many future Instructables that have been made from this workbench :D

For more great PVC and Woodworking tips, be sure to check out the PVC Class and the Woodworking Class!

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    7 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Very nicely done. I like how you upped the ante on IKEA's version of the rail with two casters that will only work with one Kallax shelf unit. The back to back idea and PVC frame is outstanding. Great job.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you! I think I'm going to keep modifying the sides with either dry erase board or peg board. Now that I've been using it for a couple weeks, I definitely want to route a chamfer around the sides.


    2 years ago

    I have built something similar recently out of just 2x4s. It does not look as good, but the main feature is that it fits my under-stairs closet exactly.
    What I am really thankful for though, is that you made me realize the square milk crates are the right size for IKEA cubes!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    If you poke around online, you can find some really fun colors for milk crates. I briefly tried to use the canvas Ikea cubes, but those are not really meant for holding things like power tools and oddly shaped camera equipment. The crates are tops, and can stack easily if I need to move stuff around.


    2 years ago

    I apologize if I missed this information, but I'm wondering how tall the finished product is? I guestimate about 36" by adding up the bits. I would love to make a standing workbench-height version of this, but it looks like adding the 1x4 Kallax would make it too high.

    This looks like SO much fun to make, though! And incredibly useful!!


    2 years ago

    Nice! This is a great-looking bench with loads of storage. And you made a very clear 'ible with nice photos and instructions. Is there any special reason you chose PVC for the supports, instead of using cheaper and readily available lumber, such as 2X2s or 2X4s?

    1 reply

    I had a surplus of PVC around, so, mostly out of thriftiness. But PVC is also a lot lighter and more rigid than wood. I'm super surprised how easy it is to roll around, and how much machine chatter it diffuses when I'm using a sewing machine or my recently purchased 3d printer on the work top :D