Published on May 21st, 2011 | by Jules Yap


ALEX work table with flat files

Materials: 2 VIKA ALEX storage units ($50 each): 601.928.26; 1 ALEX flatfile drawer unit ($120): 401.962.41; 1 tabletop (I used VIKA BLECKET because of the sweet lightbox inlay – $100): 201.036.05; 2 sets CAPITA brackets ($15 each, $30 total): 400.511.96; 1 RATIONELL shelf (30×24, set of 2 for $16): 245.785.10

Description: We finished a basement renovation recently that yielded a small room that I could use for a design/music studio. The room is small (about 10′x10′ with a 3′ swath of space under stairs) and making the best possible use of the space is key – as is finding furniture that’s a little undersized to keep from making the room feel cramped. A goal was also to give my girls a space where they could do art projects and leave them out to dry, or just have the freedom to leave the space a little messier than they could leave the dining room or kitchen counter.

Source: Readmade Magazine, Bauhaus Beauty

I saw an article in a recent issue of ReadyMade (pic, right) about a furniture designer who found a killer Bauhaus-designed house in the hills of St. Paul, MN… anyway, he had built a beautiful work table for his studio. While I lack the skills and time to make the same thing for myself, I was looking through the IKEA catalog and the ALEX components made me think, what the heck, I could probably do something similar.

additional materials/tools:
10 machine screws (pan or truss head) 1/4″ x 1-1/2″ (mine are #20) with nuts and washers
4, 3″ casters (i used two locking ones for the front) with 1/2″ wood screws
drill and 1/4″ bit, 3/16″ bit, philips-head driver bit
handsaw, circular saw or table saw
measuring tape
screwdrivers and crescent wrench

total time: about four hours (not including IKEA run)

Step 1: Locate bolts for linking units together
• Open up one of the VIKA ALEX units and the ALEX flatfile unit.
• The back and front of all the units (whether they’re doors or drawers or whatever) land inside the frame, so we need to allow for those when placing our holes. for the machine screws I’m using, I’m centering my holes 1-1/8″ from the edges.
• Start with the drawer unit, since it’s going to be the hardest to deal with. i put the drawer sides down on the slides so I could see where the hardware had gaps. 3-1/2″ from the top, 7″ down from there (back side only), 3-1/2″ from the bottom. Mark both side pieces of the drawer unit.

• Clamp the pieces together and drill with a 1/4″ drill bit. be sure to clamp them together as they will go in your final assembly – obviously you want your holes to line up properly! hint: the clean sides (no factory holes) go together… just be sure that the front of your drawer unit lines up with the front of your shelf unit. also, very important: line them up on the BOTTOM.

Step 2: Assemble units normally
• About halfway through assembly, I started connecting the side pieces. it doesn’t really matter when you connect the three units; just don’t get the screws super tight until they’re all together, or you may have trouble installing the bottom pieces.

• Just don’t put in shelves, drawers or doors.
• Make sure they’re good and square!

Step 3: Casters
• Turn unit upside down
• Locate caster holes. I used the existing caster hole from the Alex to place one of them, then marked the others.
• Install all four casters. recommended: drill pilot holes. these screws are big and will mess a little with the particleboard.
• Turn unit right-side up.

Step 4: Shelf
• Cut shelf to size (if you haven’t already).
• Carve out shelf pin notches

• Place and drill shelf pin holes (mine are 3/16″)

• Put shelf in place

Step 5: Install tabletop
• Locate brackets. I’m using the VIKA BLECKET tabletop, which means I have a little lightbox window to avoid, so i placed the tabletop on top of the assembly and marked the edges; then I placed the brackets 1″ closer to the center of the table (so they’re not right up against the edge of the desk). In my case, I also wanted the tabletop to overhang only at the front, not all the way around, so I positioned it that way when I marked things out.

• Screw the brackets to the tabletop.

• Now that you’ve got the brackets installed, flip the tabletop over and orient the brackets to the bottom unit. Get it centered and then mark the holes. CAREFUL moving the tabletop around as the brackets will scratch the melamine!

• Now remove the tabletop and drill your holes.
• If you drilled your holes just right, your tabletop should now slide right into place. you may have to enlarge one or two of the holes (don’t feel bad).
• Tighten the nuts under the brackets.

6. Finish it off!
• Install doors and drawers.
• Tighten everything one last time.

7. Party.

8. Extra credit
• I picked up a couple FRANKLIN barstools (901.260.57) which sit at the perfect height for me to use my laptop, or for my daughters to sit and work at the table.
• See the large inset at the center back of the work table? Why not use the second RATIONELL shelf to make that space a vertical storage area for large posters and stuff?

~ Graham Stinson, Seattle, USA

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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".

17 Responses to ALEX work table with flat files

  1. Hey Kelly! Shorter drawers are 2-5/8″ (67 mm) and the deeper ones (three bottom drawers are 3-1/2″ (89 mm).

  2. Kelly Clarke says:

    Can someone tell me the height of the inside of the drawers? Both the shorter and taller drawers? Thank you!

  3. Actual inside drawer dimensions are 16.625″ x 23.625″. That’s about 42cm x 60cm.

  4. Eric Ameres says:

    Does anyone know the draw depths by any chance?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh Man! This is so cool!!!! the idea is excellent! high mobility, too.

  6. Oh, that’s great…most of my work is 11 x17, so that’s perfect. Thanks for that info!

  7. Jonas says:

    really nice hack!

    yours look even better than the one you were inspired by!

  8. Thanks Sarah!

    The drawers will fit a poster that’s roughly 18″ x 24″, despite what the site says. That was the critical part for me. I can grab the actual inside dimensions if you like, though.

  9. Beautiful! The IKEA website says that those drawers are designed for letter-size documents. There’s not a divider in them, is there? What’s the approximate inside dimension of the drawers?

  10. Andrey says:

    Where to put feet? (original: А ноги куда ставить?)

  11. Andrey – it’s standing desk height, so in most cases you won’t need footroom. However, there’s 6-8 inches or so (15-20 cm) of room under the front, the way I built it, so while it’s not the most comfortable sitting desk, there’s enough legroom for my daughters, and it’s ok for my laptop and me in a pinch.

    Thanks everyone for the kind comments!

  12. Briggtopp says:

    The Best HowTo on ikeahackers .
    Btw Awesome Hack

  13. Bren N says:

    Great stuff! … and thanks for introducing me to this site.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Very good!
    And nice step-by-step photos and comments!

    p.s.From Russia with love :)

  15. wawancara kerja says:

    it’s an amazing hack…very good

  16. Anonymous says:

    Awesome hack.

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