Alex sewing+cabinet-781927

Published on February 8th, 2013 | by Jules Yap


Hacker help: Ironing Alex?

Materials: Alex drawer unit

Description: I recently saw an Alex drawer unit that someone had fitted with dividers to hold large spools of quilting thread. I don’t have large spools like hers, but I thought it was a very clever way to see your thread but then “not see it” when you don’t need it. I cut strips from an old piece of foam core, taped them to the sides of the drawers, and arranged my thread by color. Pins stuck into the foam core hold the corresponding bobbins nearby. Very nice!

I also discovered that the top of the Alex was a good place to put my little pressing board and iron. The only trouble was that there was “just enough” space for the iron and board and if either shifted, one of them was in danger of falling off. Not nice.

I’d like to find a rack/shelf of some kind that I can attach to the top of the cabinet somehow, and then attach the board to that. And since I’d also like to enlarge the pressing board to a full 24″ square (it’s only 22″ now), it would have to be wide enough to be able to hold the iron completely to the side.

I’m hoping that some of your clever folk might have some ideas for me. Many thanks!

~ Peg Farrell, United States

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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".

8 Responses to Hacker help: Ironing Alex?

  1. Katey Lady says:


    I use my Bygul cart all the time for ironing. I have one of those little table top ironing boards (not the Ikea one which is flimsy junk, a slightly better one from a Big Box Store with a U shaped 1/2″ tube metal base), and if I slip one end of the metal base under the handle of the cart, it does not tip or slip. ts much more stable- and ergonomic- than just putting the ironing board on my kitchen table.

    Perhaps you can attach a rail to the back edge of your cart and brace your ironing surface against that.

  2. Deco Review says:

    I did not clearly understood the way you did this. But I liked the way you have arranged the thread.I am also on the look out for a storage unit for my woollen yarn

  3. Anonymous says:

    ikea has a lovely little folding tabletop ironing board that can be collapsed and put behind the Alex when not used. I would caution putting hot iron on the Alex, even to rest it for a moment. I like the suggestion above this one too, getting another Alex. Also agree about wool board, but wouldnt rest hot iron on it unless you have a trivet. Wool and canvas are not flameproof.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Not sure how much room you have, but I would get a second Alex. Then, you could make a wool pressing board using 2′x4′ particle board or plywood. It’s heavy enough that you wouldn’t have to attach it permanently so that you could take the top off and roll the two alexes away. If you’re afraid they’ll roll out from under the top, you can put a wood “frame” under it that the alexes would sit under.

    Wool Pressing board = particle board or plywood, with 4-6 layers of wool army blanket (cheap from army surplus store!), then cover with heavy canvas. Some people draw lines on it for measuring/lining stuff up. Some people use 1″ gingham square top for the same reason. If you feel like you want the cover removable, you can make one, add a drawstring and then put it on. When it needs laundering undo the drawstring and take it off. You’ve never pressed a seam until you’ve done it on a wool pressing board!

    If you do it this large, you’ll have room for your iron. And when the iron isn’t on, it’s a firm surface and you can put a cutting board on top. Just don’t put the cutting board on it if the wool is hot because it retains the heat.

  5. Peg,

    I’m assuming that your pressing board is for quilting? Do you need access to the corners (to press over them like pressing around a shoulder seam)?

    Do you sit for ironing or do you stand? The reason I ask is that the ALEX is only 26″ tall, which is way too short for ironing while standing (the ergonomic ironing board height should be about an inch below the level of your elbow when standing) and probably a little short for sitting.

    I would think the ideal height of where the iron would sit would facilitate the least amount of vertical lifting of the iron from the ‘resting’ place to the ironing surface. That looks to be about what you have sitting there (maybe with the iron a little lower, but not by much, maybe an inch, which could be shimmed up).

    The dimensions of the ALEX are 26 3/8″ wide and 18 7/8″ front to back. For a 24″x24″ pressing board, that is going to leave a little more than 5 inches of overhang in the front-to-back dimension that is going to block a portion of at least the top drawers’ access if the overhang is all in front (which would be the better bet if you sit to iron, as it will provide extra knee room). This can be alleviated somewhat if you used some brackets/legs to raise the new surface up. This will also allow you to use the top surface of the Alex as storage. You could also split the overhang front and back, or put it all toward the back (and maybe use the space on the back of the Alex for things like a power strip, or other mountable holders/organizers).

    Estimating that your iron’s base (plus a little ‘wiggle room’) is about 6″ wide, you will need a surface that is going to be at least 30″ long.

    In noodling around the Ikea site, I found the GALANT extension top w/frame and small desk both have the tabletop #901.347.88, that has the dimensions 31 1/2″x23 5/8″, which is about the size you would be looking for. (Maybe you can find one in the scratch and dent bin? Or get the desk, and save the legs for another project. The legs are $10/each when sold separately and the difference in price between the desk and the extension is $30 currently.)

    A less expensive option for the top that is about 8″ wider than the GALANT is the VIKA AMON (currently $5.99 in white), which is the same depth as the GALANT top (23 5/8″; leaves 4 3/8″ overlap of the ALEX front to back) with a width of 39 3/8″ (centering the AMON side to side would leave a 6 1/2″ overlap on each side of the ALEX) and would give you even more room on the top, but may be more of a tip hazard.

    Low cost option: The VIKA AMON desktop and attach it to the ALEX with 2 sets of BESTA legs, round ($5/set of 2) or square ($10/set of 2). I would center the AMON side to side, and have the top even with the back so all the overhang is in the front. Cost: $15.99-$25.99 (I like the square legs personally) plus hardware/glue.

    CAPITA brackets ($14.99/set of 2) could be used as well.

    If it was me, I’d also replace the ALEX casters with some that are lockable.

  6. Lisa says:

    There are racks that would hold the iron that you could attach to the side of the Alex unit. That way the iron wouldn’t be in danger of falling off or being accidently knocked off when not in use and it would give you the full surface to iron on. For instance, I saw this:

  7. Anonymous says:

    I would buy the ikea iron holder and attach the iron to the side of the unit.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I would take another piece of wood or laminate the size you desire to accomodate the press board at 24″ and iron and attach it to the top of the Alex unit. A board 2-3 ” larger around than the size of the Alex unit top might do it.

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