Published on April 21st, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Custom-fit Ivar shelves

Materials: Ivar shelves, shelf L-brackets, screws

I wanted to fill a whole wall with shelving in my office/library area, but could not find any bookcases that were exactly the right width for my space. I decided to make a 5-bay Ivar configuration and cut the set of shelves on one end to fit. Since they’re solid pine, cutting them is easy; the hack is how to attach the shelves to the uprights after you’ve cut off the original mounting bracket fixed to the end of each shelf.

I needed to shorten the shelves by about 4″. Measure carefully and cut to leave a tab to fit between the upright posts. Sand and apply finish of your choice (I used multiple coats of Minwax Tung Oil finish).

To support the shelves, I used L-brackets with 1/4″ pins from Home Depot. These are exactly the right size to fit in the predrilled holes in the uprights.

Note that the regular Ivar mounting hardware “locks” the shelves over the pins, but with these L-brackets the shelves just rest on top of the supports and have no lateral stability. So, you should also get some small screws and use them to secure at least some of the shelves to the L-brackets — see the first photo showing the underside of the top shelf. Since the screws are close to the edges of the shelf tab, mark and drill pilot holes first to avoid splitting the wood. For additional stability, I also put an extra cross-brace on the back of this section.

You may notice that the L-brackets position the shelf a little bit lower than the regular Ivar shelf pins, so the shelves may not be level. I had to shim the uprights anyway to compensate for uneven floors, otherwise you can use some washers or nylon spacers between the L-brackets and shelves.

The first photo shows the end result, with the cut-down set of shelves on the right next to one of the full-width shelf bays with a cabinet.

~ pondscum

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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".

7 Responses to Custom-fit Ivar shelves

  1. Fergus says:

    Interesting idea. Have you found any issues with the shelves splitting? The metal end pieces (which are now plastic) provide some rigidity across the depth of the shelves which stops them bending and splitting. With no support across the depth then they may be prone to splitting.

    Your load looks very evenly distributed across the depth though so that would help. Probably wouldn’t work on the 50cm deep ones.

  2. CC says:

    I noticed the lateral supports: the 2 parallel wooden rods that seem to go into the pre-drilled holes. That is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Can you please tell me where you got them/how you made them ?


  3. Brendan says:

    What about the metal rods that support the frame of the shelving unit? Did they still fit after you trimmed down the shelves?

    I want to create a standalone shelf that is 25″ wide, and it looks like if I trimmed 10″ off of the shelves, i can accomplish that, but I worry that the metal rods won’t be able to adjust their angle to accomodate the narrower width.

  4. Alicia says:


    I have found the IVAR shelving system to be very useful.

    You can get an idea of the component dimensions from these pre-packaged combinations.

    You can buy the individual components for reasonable cost $8 to $15 and some priced a little higher: narrow/wide sides; narrow/wide shelves; corner shelf; corner posts.

    I am currently planning to assemble a computer hutch by using a combination of wide and narrow shelves and modifying the wide side supports by adding a corner post that I have ripped in half lengthwise to allow the use of narrow shelves.

  5. Just trying to understand the IVAR system – is there any actual list of the parts and their dimensions? I can’t find any on the Ikea website.

    I was all ready to just buy one of the shelf sets listed, even though it wasn’t quite the right size, but apparently I need to go and find 23 separate packages of bits! So it seems like it would be very little extra effort to customise it. But you know Ikea – there are half a dozen different items called “IVAR – Side Unit” with no indication which is which and no individual prices, though they’re packed and collected individually.

    Any clues?

  6. End result looks great! I always admire people who find a way to solve the problem – I’d probably just have bought shelves that didn’t quite fit the wall length!

  7. Naan says:

    My mother has done something similar, but get the planks where they need to be, she uses the normal IVAR pins. She used a chisel to make the same kind of notches as you normally find on ivar (so same length + depth), and they rest on the pins. Obviously, they don’t grip as strongly as there’s no metal, but they do perfectly fine.

    Loving the way it looks!

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