Secondary Storage

Published on July 30th, 2009 | by Jules Yap


What to do with the ugly side of things

Andy shares a very useful fix should you screw up putting together your Billy Bookshelf and end up with a shelf with the unfinished side out.

See more of Andy’s quick fix for Billy bookshelves.

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

26 Responses to What to do with the ugly side of things

  1. jedifarfy says:

    This is a very handy and useful guide for when mistakes happen. Everyone does it, and yes, it would be great if every Billy went together perfect. However, when you realize someone who’s helping you flipped it and you’ve already nailed the back into it, it’s not so easy to ‘just flip it back’. Thank you for this guide!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this!! I messed up the bottom shelf and did not know how to fix it and this and the commenters suggestions on the melamine strip are VERY helpful. No, you cannot flip it once you have tacked the back on because the flipped “good ” side would now have holes.

  3. Emma says:

    I can understand the motivation behind doing this. But it boggles the mind that anyone was proud enough of this to photograph every step and submit it to a website.

    I’m sure everyone has done something this lazy/stupid at some point. But it should be a private shame, never to be spoken of. And certainly not something you should recommend others do.

  4. Tash says:

    i’d love to know which paint they used to do that – i’ve got some furniture I’m wanting to paint to match my existing billy furniture… who knew there were so many blooming types of white out there… (and I’m an artist – of all people I should know! lol)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, I did this, didnt realise till it was up and it was one of the shelves that the back is hammered into. Can fix it now.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I realized I had the shelves on backwards as I was going to put on the back. You can correct your error within seconds. Simply turn the plastic screw holders so that they release the tension on the screws. Then flip each shelf around. The trick is figuring out which direction will release the tension. Good luck!

  7. Anonymous says:

    ‘Anonymous’ from August 29th again…I did the white melamine fix – works like a charm.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey all, I actually just made the VERY same mistake. The problem with the Billy bookshelves is, the instructions are completely by illustration (i.e. no words), and no where does it ever indicate to *watch out* for which end of the board points forward…I never gave it a second thought…guess I assumed it was white on both sides. By the end of it, you have to slide in a backing, which then gets nailed into the three main shelves (top, middle, bottom shelves) – I noticed I screwed up AFTER nailing the backing to the *good end* of the reversed shelves. So at this point you’re stuck…can’t undo and put it all back together because you’ve already nailed into the good side of the shelves – thanks for the quick fix!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ve made that mistake more than once….just a case of not paying attention while assembling. It’s a pain in the a$$ to take it apart and reassemble so I like this little fix, although I prefer the iron-on melamine fix better – will try that next time I mess up.

  10. A couple of comments.

    1. Get it right the first time.
    Take your time while assembling, because rushing will only result in losing time to fix your mistakes after. Call it the cost of non-quality.
    My best time for a Billy assembly is 17 mn. But I screwed up as well and mounted one shelf the wrong way around. Of course when I found out, I already stapled the back.

    2. Your fix is overly complicated.
    Just use an iron-on white border and it’ll look as new. Takes about 10 mn. They sell this in any Homebase in the UK, sorry if that haven’t arrived in the US yet.

  11. Jules says:

    The middle shelf is a fixed shelf. Yes, you could tear it apart and reassemble it. So, it is only a tip for those who may have done this boo-boo.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a rather lame ikea hack. A bit silly.

  13. Jamie–
    The stabilizing middle shelf IS screwed in. The other shelves rest on dowels.

    I do agree with the people that just said to by the iron on edging stuff, much cheaper and easier.

  14. jamie says:

    i work at ikea. the shelves aren’t screwed in, they rest on metal dowels. it would take 2 seconds to flip it around. this is a case of someone wanting to seem overly clever.

  15. Anonymous says:

    i think i’m going to install all of my shelves backwards so that i can try out this technique. Ingenious!

  16. Anonymous says:

    How can simply flipping it the right way not occur to someone?

  17. Herbie says:

    As others have said, the “right” way to do this is the way that cabinet makers use.

    The iron-on melamine is called “Edge Banding” or “Edge Veneer” and is made from the same material (and adheres the same way) as the rest of the melamine on the cabinet face, so it will actually match!

    It is typically sold either in big rolls (overkill) or by the food (perfect for this).

    From the pictures in this post, the appropriate edge banding would have cost about $0.36 and taken 2 minutes with an iron to affix followed by a minute or two to trim the overlap (the edge banding is slightly oversized, making it easier to install.)

  18. Jasper says:

    Well, it is easier to spend like a minute or two reading the instruction than go through all the trouble of fixing it.

    And I agree with Mike and Anonymous, just do it right the first time.

  19. i know an easy way, take it back apart and put it together correctly.

  20. Anonymous says:

    there’s an easier way: you can buy a melamine strips at the hardware store and iron it on to the shelf.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Why not just unscrew the shelf, flip it around, and screw it back in? Seems easier and cheaper than buying putty and spray paint.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why was it assembled with the unfinished side out in the first place?

  23. Anonymous says:

    There’s an easier way to do this. Most home renovation stores sell strips of melamine veneer (the white stuff) that can be cut to length and affixed with an iron. Would take all of a minute.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Why dont they finish both sides of the shelfes, he askes.

    By saving in on the paint, plastic or wood needed to have color on both sides of the shelf they save lots and lots of cash which, for us consumers, leads to a lower price.

    I’m with him on this however. Would be so muche easier to put together ikea stuff, in different ways, if it had paint on all sides but I guess the pricetag wouldnt really be affordable then…

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