Ikea Hack: DIY Rustic Cube Shelves

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When you want the look of custom furniture but don't have the time, money or maybe the desire to start from scratch, an Ikea hack is the way to go. It's also a good route to take if you like the look of modern furniture mixed with the rustic industrial or hard loft look in home decor.

These rustic cube shelves will take about two to four hours to build and require a medium skill level.

(Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Things You'll Need

  • Ikea Kallax shelving unit, 16 1/2 by 57 7/8 inches, 1
  • One-by-fours, knotty pine, 6 feet long, 5
  • 3-inch on center cabinet handles, 4
  • 1 1/2-inch narrow fixed pin hinges, 8

  • Magnetic catches, 4
  • Wood glue or adhesive
  • 1 1/4-inch brad nails, 128
  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Brad nailer
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Measuring tape
  • Sander and sandpaper
  • Hammer and other items for distressing wood
  • Dark walnut stain
  • Foam brush
  • Lint-free rag
  • Oil rubbed bronze spray paint (if necessary)

Step 1: Assemble the Shelving Unit

Assemble the Ikea Kallax shelving unit, following the directions in the box. Set aside.

Step 2: Cut the Door Materials

Measure and cut 16 pieces of one-by-four knotty pine boards to 13 1/16 inches long. (These will make up the door fronts.)

(Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)
(Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Rip enough (not quite 1 inch) off of four of the door front pieces to create four 1-by-3-by-13 1/16-inch pieces.

Ripping 1 inch off of four cut pieces
Ripping 1 inch off of four cut pieces (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Measure and cut an additional eight pieces of one-by-fours to 13 1/16 inches long. (These will be used to fasten the door pieces together.)

Step 3: Assemble the Doors

Lay out three of the 13 1/16 inch pieces from the one-by-four and one 1-by-3-by 13 1/16-inch piece. This will be the front of one door.

Apply glue to two pieces of 13 1/16 inch one-by-four and adhere to door front, lining up the edges and pressing down to affix. See photos.

Applying adhesive to wood
Applying adhesive to wood (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)
Adhering framing to door
Adhering framing to door (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Using the brad nailer, also nail it in place.

Brad nail frame in place as well
Brad nail frame in place as well (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Repeat for all four doors, alternating the placement of the smaller board (1 by 3 by 13 1/16 inches) for a more rustic, reclaimed look.

Door Front
Door Front (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)
Door Back
Door Back (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Step 4: Distress the Doors

Using a hammer and screwdriver, distress the door fronts by banging tools onto the wood at all angles. Distress the doors as much or as little as desired.

Raw distressed wood
Raw distressed wood (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Sand the edges and fronts of the doors to remove any rough patches.

Apply stain to the doors using the foam brush, making sure the stain sinks into all the dents and grooves. Let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Wipe off the excess stain with a clean, lint-free cloth. Let them all dry fully before moving onto the next step.

Apply stain with foam brush
Apply stain with foam brush (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)
Wipe off excess stain
Wipe off excess stain (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Step 5: Add the Handles and Hinges

After the stain on the wood doors is finished drying, decide which way you want your doors to go (vertically or horizontally). Then, on the front of each door, place a pencil mark at 5 inches and 8 inches from the top of the door. Drill holes for the handle screws.

Once the stain on the wood doors is finished drying, on front of door mark at 5" and 3" with a pencil. Drill holes for handle screws.
Once the stain on the wood doors is finished drying, on front of door mark at 5" and 3" with a pencil. Drill holes for handle screws. (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)
Drill holes for handles
Drill holes for handles (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Drill 1-inch deep clearance holes in back for the screw heads to fit. Be careful not to drill through to the front of the doors. Add the handles to each door.

Drill clearance holes in back of doors for screw heads
Drill clearance holes in back of doors for screw heads (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Spray paint the hinges if necessary (it was for me as I couldn't find black or oil-rubbed bronze hinges in the size and style I needed).

Locate one hinge 2 inches from the top and one hinge 2 inches from the bottom of each door on the side opposite the handle. Using screws that came with the hinges, attach the hinges to the doors.

Step 6: Attach the Doors to the Shelving Unit

Place the doors into the shelf openings and mark holes for the hinge screws with a pencil. Drill pilot holes (size appropriate for hinge screws) in the shelving unit and the doors. Attach the doors to the shelving unit by screwing the hinges into place.

Add the magnetic catches as door stops inside the shelving unit.

Attach Hinges and Handles
Attach Hinges and Handles (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Finishing Touches

You can customize the cube shelf further by adding hair-pin legs, rigid or swivel casters or some sort of backing to the shelf, such as tread plate or wood planking.

Inside of shelf display
Inside of shelf display (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)
IKEA KALLAX hack with wood doors finished
IKEA KALLAX hack with wood doors finished (Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design)

Have you ever hacked an Ikea piece? What's your favorite Ikea hack?

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