Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Putting shelves in Ikea cabinets

I think that the IKEA's Detolf  glass cabinet is a staple of the hobbyist - lots of people I know have these inexpensive cabinets for displaying their the models they're most proud of.  I keep some of my Dark Angels models locked inside two cabinets for all to see and they look great!

What I don't really like about the Detolf is that it only has four surfaces inside for you to place your stuff on.  They're 15" apart which is good if you have a Reaver Titan or tall building or some such item.  If like me you're displaying bikes and Land Raiders and speeders - it leaves a lot of unused potential.

I got this idea from a posting on Dakka Dakka that I came across many moons ago and until recently when I found the hardware I needed, it had just been an item on the wish list.  But I found the hardware required.

You'll know if you own one of these cabinets that there is nowhere to mount additional shelves.  Well there is now.  You should go to the hardware store and buy some wire rope clips.  These things get clamped around the end of wire rope so that it doesn't fray and hurt people.

A pair of wire rope clips, earlier today
You can mail order them from Harbour Freight if you're so inclined.  I bought mine from Rona, a Canadian hardware chain.  To get the ones you need for this project you are looking for 5/16" or whatever the metric equivalent is I think you can get a clip as small as 6mm to fit but don't quote me on it. The ones I bought were 5/16"

All you need to do is clamp them around the inner frame of the cabinet.  Measure carefully, or use a level, or make adjustments as you go so that your glass doesn't wobble like a table with a short leg and you'll be fine. Install like this!


I just installed mine halfway between the stock shelves. Of course you can put them where you like.  Yes, that's my reflection.  Take care to ensure that your clamps are tightened quite securely.  They will bite into the plastic covering on the upright but still - it would suck a green weenie if the shelf fell onto the models underneath it. Oh my. 

The glass! The size that I had made up is 11 3/4" x 15 1/8".  You can convert that into mm if you're so inclined Google is great for that.   I ordered 1/4" shelf glass.  Cost me about $12 a sheet.  The wire rope clips cost me about $6 for a box of twelve, as I recall. You may like to add some soft foam tape or something to the clamp or the glass to cushion it slightly.  I will be when I go digging in my toolbox at work tomorrow.

And ta-da!  It works REALLY nicely if you're displaying transports, cavalry or infantry models.  You can easily double the shelf space you have for your armies by doing some running around and manual labour, without spending the money to buy another Detolf cabinet and without losing that additional square footage of floorspace. I'll be ordering a few more shelves soon, I think.  My son needs some for his cabinet with his favourite Lego models and his football trophies, and I think I'll be filling up a third cabinet with some Tyranids in the near future!


  1. Great idea, Chris! I (obviously...) have one of these shelves, but never thought of modding it. May consider that, particularly since my girlfriend is moving in and we'll need a bit more space. :)

  2. This is definitely a space-saver! Thanks for the idea! Now I can keep the same models in one shelf rather than separating them into multiple cabinets. Makes it easier to view, too. :)

    Camille Edington

  3. A bit of DIY, and you’ve got twice the display space without buying another cabinet. Saves both money and the space the 2nd one would have consumed!

    On a slightly OT, you have a lot of figures. And I know that’s quite an understatement. Heh.

    Reed @ Tom Curren

  4. Thank you for this! I'm not particuarly a fan, as I had another idea I really liked.

    I was thinking that a good thing to replace my ikea glass cabinet would be to pick up an apropriately sized aquarium, or two. These things are always around the curb, or on craigslist free. And while they are more limited height wise, they allow for an actual battle seen to be displayed, and you'd be surprised how much space you save from doubling the space. You can't put models an inch away from the the edges of a shelf, or they look goofy, so by using one layer with twice the space, rather than two layers, you get an extra 30 square inches!

    Obviously that's just my opinion, and I haven't put this into practice, but I thought I'd put this out there. There's the added benefit that aquariums are a very wasted good, because it's a hobby most people don't stick with.

    I'm sure many people would get use out of your idea, and I might too!

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