Making a Cupboard for Ivar

Ivar Side Panels
Making a side for an Ivar Cupboard.

Turning some Ivar shelves into a cupboard, was one of my ideas for my new office space. Open shelves are fine for many things, but I wanted to reduce the visible clutter and be able to hide some things away.

Ikea don’t make a cupboard for the small 50cm Ivar shelves, so I needed to figure out how to make some myself. Clearly there are a number of components to this, primarily 2 sides and a door. The top and bottom, would be regular shelves.

ivar cupboard 1
Rough Sketch of what is needed. 2 sides and a door.

So lets look at the sides first.

I wanted to avoid damaging the Ivar in any way (I could have just screwed some chipboard onto the sides) which meant I needed to find a way of using the existing shelf peg holes. What I came up with was fairly crude, but seems to work. I’ll show you how in a moment.

Using some 7mm MDF, cut to fit between the uprights, and the same height as the desk (about 70cm) gave me a side panel. Note that you need to be careful when cutting MDF as it’s a bit nasty, so best to do it outside. Obviously MDF is not great looking so the panels will need to be painted. Plywood can be a bit more pleasant looking but is a bit more expensive.

Then using some slightly modified angle brackets from my local DIY store (B&Q), I can attach these to the sides. These brackets just happen to line up with the inner holes in the posts. I’ll show you how to modify these in a moment.

Making the Panels: The first thing I did was make a panel to fit, unfortunately I didn’t have any plywood or MDF at the time I made my prototype, so I had to fix 2 pieces together, not ideal, but it was a prototype. The size for me was 70cm x 43.5cm. This would allow the side panel to be the same height as the desk, and down to just below the lowest shelf. Remember, for you it might be a different height, or you might even want to do it in 2 separate panels. Also the panel under the desk, might not be quite as tall taking into account the thickness of the desk.

Brackets: Next I took 4 brackets, and drilled out one hole to 6.5mm using an electric hand drill and a 6.5mm High Speed drill bit. You have to be careful doing this as the drill can easily snag on the hole, and cause the bracket to spin suddenly, which could cause you a nasty injury. So the best way to do this safely is in a vice. If you don’t have one, screw the bracket to a scrap of wood, and then hold that over another scrap to drill it. Once you have 4 brackets, you’re ready to fix the panel.

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Put some Ikea shelf pins in where you want them (avoiding any shelves) and mark on the panel. Once you’ve marked one, take the panel off and screw in the bracket making sure the bracket is lined up with the edge of the panel. The thickness of the panel will determine the length of the wood screws as you don’t want them poking through the panel. Alternatively you could use some M4 or M5 bolts and nuts on the inside, but as the side panel is pretty much decorative, I felt 4 screws should be OK.

Ivar Side Panel being marked out
Marking out the position for the bracket with a bradawl.
bracket 01
Bracket Screwed to Panel. The hole on the left has been drilled out to 6.5mm to take the IVAR shelf pin
brackets 02
You end up with 4 brackets fixed to your panel (only the top 2 shown here)

Once you have all 4 brackets, you can simply drop your panel in place between the uprights and pop in the shelf pins.

Note that the brackets do use the inner holes, so this means that you wont be able to fix a shelf inside at this position as the hole is already in use. However, if you need to, you can simply move the bracket up or down a hole.

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panel 02
One unpainted side panel in place.

Clearly the top doesn’t line up with the top of the adjacent shelf, so a small shim might be made later to neaten it off.

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The “inside” of the IVAR cabinet

This project is paused, as I had to wait to get access to my workshop, but will catch up and post more photos once I’ve made a pair.


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