Ikea Kallax Hack

Hey Guys! 

I have been searching for the perfect entry table for quite some time now, and I just cannot find anything I like that doesn’t cost me more than my mortgage payment! So I decided to go ahead and make one. Shocking.. I know.

I saw a video on tik tok of someone taking an Ikea Kallax shelf and turning it into a “high end credenza.” So I decided to give it a shot with my own idea and design.

I do own a Kallax shelf already in the office, but given that I am currently using that, I found one on Offer Up to use for my credenza. You could buy one directly from Ikea, or use one of these other options. They sell similar units at Walmart and Target, but the Ikea shelf is much sturdier. I found one locally on OfferUp for only $30. It was in great condition, but even if I found one a little more beat up, that would’ve been ok since we are going to refinish the whole thing anyway.

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What I used for this project:

  1. Ikea Kallax Shelf
  2. A sheet of plywood (I cut mine down myself, but you can have them cut it down to the exact sizes you need at home depot or lowes)
  3. A sheet of Utility Plywood (again, you can have them cut this down for you at the hardware store)
  4. Poplar boards (0.25 X 1.5 In X 4ft)
  5. Handles
  6. Legs
  7. Hinges
  8. Paint
  9. Wood Glue
  10. Wood Filler
  11. Primer
  12. Edgebanding
  13. Sandpaper
  14. Liquid sandpaper
  15. Small Nails
  16. Foam Roller
  17. Paintbrush
  18. Magnetic Cabinet Latches
  19. Caulking

This sounds like a lot but don’t get too intimidated. It’s super easy, and if I can do it, so can you. So let’s get into it.

Step 1:

You are going to cut your plywood down to use for the two doors. Mine were about 30×29 for each door, but please double check your own measurements to make sure your doors are the correct sizes for your shelf.

As I mentioned before, when you purchase the sheet of plywood at your local hardware store, you can have them cut the plywood for you to your exact measurements. 

You are also going to cut the utility plywood down. It is going to be used to cover the back of the shelf and should be cut to fit the whole back.

Step 2: 

Next you want to cover the perimeter of your doors with edgebanding. The plywood has a very raw edge, so this will cover it and make it look finished. If you have never used edge banding or never heard of it, it is just a very thin roll of wood, with wood glue on the back. 

It is super easy to use. All you have to do is iron the edgebanding onto the edges of your wood. When you iron it, the heat melts the wood glue and makes the edgebanding adhere to your wood. 

Once you have attached the edgebanding, you’ll want to sand down the sides to make sure there is no overhang.

Step 3:

Now you are going to want to add whatever design you have chosen for the front. The design I chose was simple, but a bit tedious, because you want to make sure that the lines match up in the center. 

For my design I used Poplar boards. I cut them at a 45 Degree angle on each side with my miter saw and attached them with wood glue and clamps. I used another piece of my poplar board as the spacing to make sure they were all even. 

Step 4:

Once the design is complete, you want to fill all of the cracks on the edges with wood filler. I use this one. It goes on purple and turns to a natural wood color once it is dry. Be careful though, it dries pretty quickly and the container can also dry out quickly, so make sure not to keep the lid open for too long.

Once the wood filler is dry you will sand it down so that everything is smooth. Once you do this, you  shouldn’t even be able to see the cracks between the plywood and the poplar boards.

Step 5:

After the wood filler, I also caulked all of the edges around the poplar boards so there were no cracks between those and the plywood on the front. 

Like I said.. My design was a bit tedious but absolutely worth it! The design itself was very easy and simple, just a lot of small details.    

Step 6: 

Now we are going to focus on the Kallax shelf. The first thing I did with this was take the liquid sandpaper and use it all over the Kallax Shelf. This is a chemical so make sure to wear gloves and a mask when you use it. 

All you need to do is get a towel and soak a spot with the liquid sandpaper, then take your town and buff the entire shelf. This takes a little bit of time, but it gets all of the dirt and gloss off of the shelf and allows the primer to adhere to the unit.

Step 7: 

If you have ever owned any sort of Ikea furniture, you know it all comes with the lovely large bolts on the sides. So I took these and tightened them as much as I could until they were a little inset into the shelf. Then I used my wood filler again to cover up the bolts and fill in the holes. Once I sanded it down, you can’t even tell where the bolts are!

Step 8: 

Next we’re going to prime the shelf. This is very important, because paint alone won’t stick to Ikea furniture, so you need to make sure to prime it first. I recommend using this Zinsser Primer. It is the best primer I have found for painting furniture.

This is also a very strong chemical and you need to make sure to use gloves and a face mask again when doing this step. 

I also used a foam roller and not a regular paint roller. I always use this on doors and furniture because it leaves a smooth finish.

I did two coats of primer to be safe and make sure my paint sticks to the shelf.

I also primed the two doors as well as the utility plywood.

Step 9: 

It’s time to paint! 

I used Behr Ultra Scuff Defense in the color “Frost”. You can use any brand of paint and any color you would like, but make sure it is a paint that should be used for furniture. When you purchase your paint, just asked the salesman which paint they recommend for furniture. 

The one I used is supposed to be scratch resistant. 

You can either paint with a brush and a roller, or use a paint sprayer. For this step I chose to use my Homeright Super Finish Max paint sprayer. This was the first time I used a paint sprayer on furniture, and I will say, it was much easier to get into the cracks and went a lot faster. 

Step 10:

Now we’re going to put everything together!

First attach the utility plywood to the back of the shelf. I just used some leftover nails I had from other Ikea furniture, similar to these

Then you’re going to flip it over and attach the doors. It’s very important that you get the right hinges. These are the ones I used. These ones close over flat on themselves. This is important because the edges of the ikea shelf are so thick, you cannot use hinges that are supposed to attach to the inside, they are going to be attached to the front of the shelf. 

Once the hinges are on, attach the legs and the handles. 

Lift the credenza upright and attach these magnetic cabinet latches to keep the door shut. And you’re all done!!

** I also attached the credenza to the wall with these metal brackets, it is much safer to anchor it to the wall so it can’t be pulled over **

I absolutely love my new credenza! It looks just like one I wanted that would’ve cost me almost $3,000!! And I get so many compliments on it.

Let me know in the comments if you try this yourself or if you have any questions!

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