flyangler

Hacking Cheap IKEA Cabinets to Hold Heavier Items

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We finally got around to installing some storage cabinets in our main garage. Unlike my smaller garage/shop where I used kitchen-grade IKEA cabinets (Sektion) this garage had a much lower budget. I used the cheaper Pax series which are designed for bedrooms, and not necessarily meant to support heavier weights. 

 

These garage cabinets were initially meant to store excess supplies that don’t fit in the house. Nothing too heavy, paper towels, dog food, miscellaneous small stuff. But very quickly, this came to include hurricane supplies like bottled water. The problem with the Pax shelves is that they are meant to hold sweaters, not more than a dozen gallon bottles of water. 

 

[Trivia question: How much does a gallon of water weight?] 

 

The issue is that Ikea, in order to keep the costs down, make the Pax shelves So that they are actually hollow and will flex under weight. On top of that, the pins supporting the Pax shelves are not particularly large and only penetrate the side walls 1/4”. Thus, the pins won’t hold a shelf that is overloaded if it starts to sag. Been there, done that, needed a fix, after I had installed them including fastening them to the walls and shimming them to plumb. 

 

One fix would have been to buy 3/8” plywood and cut new shelves to fit. Wood cost, time to cut, paint, and the weight of the plywood just made that impractical. Also, that would not address the pins and I would have had to find another way to support such shelves. Plus, I owned five shelves for each of the two cabinets. 

 

My solution was to support the shelve from the center using something relatively rigid yet simply. I used threaded rod (I think 5/8” diameter) run through the center of the shelves and resting directly in the garage floor. Think center column support. 

 

Each shelf was drilled dead center with the hole just larger than the rod diameter. The bottom shelf actually sits about four inches off the floor so it needed to be supported as well. The bottom end of the rod was to sit on the garage floor and I needed to stabilize it and spread the load just a bit. I placed the bottom of the rod in a 1” PVC pipe plug to both give it a more stable flatter surface and to widen the weight-bearing surface area. To get the plug down there and pipe seated I used a hole saw to cut an off center access hole (you can see that under the white duct tape in one of the photos).

 

Each shelf is held up by a nut and wide fender washer on the bottom side of the shelves. The bottom shelf has a nut below the shelf and another above, for stability. The rest of the shelves have nut and washer below and then a washer on top to better conceal the drill hole. 

 

I did two of the cabinets and supported four shelves, including the bottom one. On the cabinet in the photos, I decided to raise the height of top shelf so used an double threaded coupling to add a 6” length of rod. 

 

Anyway, the shelves are very rigid and that load bearing capacity is far better than when I started. One of the shelves has 12 gallons of water on is which is a little more than 100+ pounds.


Total cost for the hack was maybe $30 for threaded rods, nuts, washers, etc. for two cabinets. 
 

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2 hours ago, giant basshole said:

Good hack.

 

1 hour ago, Livefreeordie said:

I like it

 

 

1 hour ago, Southcoastphil said:

Me too.  Good thinking!

Thanks. The only downside I have discovered so far is that rod prevents items wider than half the shelf width from being stored there. Not too many things fit that size but my wife managed to come up with a couple. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

It's a neat solution to your problem. I would have gone in a couple different directions for sure. But you thought outside and did it well. The learning curve that you are seeing now is a natural for new engineering. :th::th: Good job.

 

That said, I absolutely hate the term "hack" being used to mean a good thing. It's a complete hijack by some hipster to make bad words sound good.

When I grew up, a "hack" was a person who had no skills or cares for the end of the job. A "Hack Job" was just that... "Did he cut it off clean, or did he hack it all up?" Hacked up and not worthy of pay, let alone leaving be. I still call guys hacks all the time for what they do. To me it will always be a term to let someone know that the job or guy is shite.

 

But I'm an old fart now, so I really could give a rats arse what anyone thinks of me or my opinions.

:wave:

 

Edited by Ben Lippen

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Frame less cabinets are a pita.  Its a good option for what you have to work with.  Hopefully the sides dont start pushing out over time.

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2 hours ago, DerrickT said:

Frame less cabinets are a pita.  Its a good option for what you have to work with.  Hopefully the sides dont start pushing out over time.

I thought of that but so far so good. The nice thing about the rod, nut and washer is I could adjust the height so that the majority of the weight is on the washer and rod, a fraction of an inch lower than the shelf pins. Takes the pressure off the side walls, so far....

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35 mins ago, Ben Lippen said:

It's a neat solution to your problem. I would have gone in a couple different directions for sure. But you thought outside and did it well. The learning curve that you are seeing now is a natural for new engineering. :th::th: Good job.

 

That said, I absolutely hate the term "hack" being used to mean a good thing. It's a complete hijack by some hipster to make bad words sound good.

When I grew up, a "hack" was a person who had no skills or cares for the end of the job. A "Hack Job" was just that... "Did he cut it off clean, or did he hack it all up?" Hacked up and not worthy of pay, let alone leaving be. I still call guys hacks all the time for what they do. To me it will always be a term to let someone know that the job or guy is shite.

 

But I'm an old fart now, so I really could give a rats arse what anyone thinks of me or my opinions.

:wave:

 

Ben - I hear you and duly noted. However, if you go to your Google machine and type in IKEA HACK you will find that there is a wide range of "hacks" or enhancements or upgrades. 

 

As far as the definition you mention, you also have the hacksaw which is meant for imprecise but fast cuts.  

 

Then there is hacking a computer or network. 

 

And what would I have titled this discussion to garner the interest of you and others? "Improving cheap Ikea cabinets"? "Improving cheap Ikea cabinets in a non-hacky way"?

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Hey, I get it. And no offense intended. Like I said, I'm too old to care what anyone thinks of what I say. 

But, to answer your question, yes. I would have looked at a thread titled  "Improving cheap Ikea cabinets" . Absolutely.

Admittedly more than half of the reason for the look would be for pure laughs. 

Just because they are are Ikea.

But partly because I am always curious and looking to learn.

 

 

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