Beyond Basics: IKEA Detolf Modification #1 - Adding Additional Shelves

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by optimusfan, May 9, 2011.

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  1. optimusfan

    optimusfan Kill your heroes Administrator TFW2005 Supporter

    Jul 23, 2002
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    The Ikea Detolf case served as a favorite of collectors for years now as an economical way for them to get their collections "under glass". The design, while a great value, does possess a few key limitations. Chief among these is the fact that the design wastes a lot of vertical space by providing only three glass shelves, with the wood base serving as the fourth. Masterpiece figures fit great, but anything Voyager size or smaller ended up wasting about 1/2 the space between shelves. This flaw always bothered me as like most collectors I am always out of space. As a result, I set out to see if I could extend the design to include additional shelves.

    After doing a bit of research I came upon the following thread which laid out the basis for extending the cases:

    Adding extra shelves to Ikea Detolf display cases - LSP Forums

    The concept here is very simple. The Detolfs use a series of four vertical posts to create their structure and support the included shelves. Using four 3/16" wire rope clips (image below), we can create a place for additional shelves to rest:


    The tools I used were as follows: an appropriately sized socket w/screwdriver handle (wrench would also work) and a board pre-cut to the appropriate height so that I wouldn't have to use a level:


    I cut the board to 7 1/4", which is a bit more than 50% of the space available. This allowed me to have a little more room on some of the halved shelves for larger figures. The board was placed on the shelf underneath and used to hold up the rope clip at the correct height as I tightened it to the Detolf frame:


    I do not know how much weight these could hold, but my assumption is that the weight tolerance of the glass is much lower. When you tighten the clips they feel incredibly secure. Additional clips being added:


    Finally, I needed to purchase additional glass shelves. I measured the available space (not the existing shelves as they don't fill out the entire width of the case) and had a local glass cutter make me custom tempered glass shelves. The specs on the glass I purchased were 15 3/8" long x 11 3/4" wide, with a pencil grind on the long sides for appearance. Although the Detolf's use a 3/16" thick tempered glass for the shelves, the glass cutter gave me 1/4" glass at the same price.

    One very important caveat to the dimensions listed above: measure your own cases. I measured one of my cases before purchasing the glass, and discovered during installation that Ikea's manufacturing processes are not that precise. Some of my new shelves had to be forced into some of the cases, while the same piece of glass would easily slide into a different case. Not what you want to be doing with pieces of glass! As such I would recommend measuring your own cases before proceeding with this mod, and would expect that knocking a 1/16" to 1/8" off of the length above (15 1/4" to 15 5/16") would produce better results.

    These were then installed in the case:


    I ended up adding 2-3 additional shelves to a number of my cases, bringing the total number of shelves available to 6 or 7 per case. This gave me an excellent balance of head room for my larger figures, while allowing me to cram additional figures in to each case:


    The first drawback to this approach is that it's not cheap. The wire clips are inexpensive -- $.40 each at our local hardware store, so $1.60 per shelf. The glass was another story, however. I've read about glass cutters in other locations creating similar size shelves for $12-$13 per shelf, but in my area the best I was able to do was $18/shelf. Some places wanted to charge >$40 PER SHELF!! Crazy. On top of that if you do the math an entire Detolf with shelves costs ~$65, so at $19.60 per shelf you're basically buying another Detolf every time you add three shelves.

    Secondly, the biggest downside I've noticed is that halving the space in between shelves really does darken the individual shelves. The room now needs additional light to see the figures, despite being in cases made almost entirely from glass.

    Lastly, adding the additional shelves does make the cases seem a bit more cluttered than with the stock configuration. Figures can get lost a bit in the back, especially on lower shelves. In addition, some of the larger figures (like Universe Hard Head with the HeadRobots add-on kit) are too large to fit in the halved shelves, which forced me to either pose them with bent legs or compromise my plans for the characters I wanted to display on a full-height shelf.

    I was able to add a lot of additional storage space at a relatively low cost, and now no longer look at my cases and cringe at all the wasted space. In addition, with floorspace being at a premium I really think this approach could help folks who just don't have the room to add in an extra Detolf case or three. However, despite the drawbacks listed above, I'm very pleased with the results overall.

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