IKEA SuperDetolf Doubled-up Supercase

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by sdmacleod, May 5, 2018.

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  1. sdmacleod

    sdmacleod Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2006
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    EDIT: By request, I've updated the "Construction Notes" below and linked to some files to help others build something similar.

    I had a Detolf. I put in some cheap LED light strips with cardstock shrouds and shiny tape. That wasn't good enough. So I bought some aluminum and more LED strips. Then it wasn't big enough.

    I've seen the "double Detolf" modifications - but they all have a flaw - two big pieces of glass go unused! I have a table saw, a router, and some skills, so I got another Detolf for the glass, and got to work.

    DSC04031_sm.JPG DSC04033_sm.JPG

    It stands 80 inches tall, and 46 inches wide - truly big enough to display Transformers in all their glory!

    DSC04040_sm.JPG DSC04041_sm.JPG

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    Lots of space for figures I haven't opened yet!

    I've put together some woodworking plans. Since I don't know of any way to attach an Excel sheet here, I'll use my Google Drive. I didn't go crazy making this a tutorial, so apologies if clarity is lacking. Post questions below, or PM me!

    Woodworking plans

    I used 3/4 inch plywood in this construction. But I wanted the edges thicker (and stronger). To save weight and wood, I cut strips about 3 inches wide and glued them on all the edge faces (later hiding the plywood edges with maple veneer). This added significant complication (especially when my plywood dried and warped a bit). I might recommend just using 1-inch MDF instead, and using only a single layer.
    The trickiest issue with the thickness was counter-sinking the nuts for the wireframe supports - this is a 3-diameter problem (the wireframe itself, the shaft of the nut, and head of the nut). In hindsight, buying replacement nuts might have been easier than my complicated drilling and routing of the holes.

    I had a "so sharp you'll cut yourself" experience. I left only 1mm tolerance front-to-back and 2mm side-to-side. But I should have checked the glass for square.

    It turns out that IKEA glass is neither perfectly square nor of the same dimensions (duh, really?). The squareness is the hard part to deal with, as some panes are parallelograms. The whole case actually has a 3mm tilt to one side, and a gentle twist to the back. I had to rout the side glass channels twice to fit, spend over an hour trial-and-error fitting the glass (to find sheets with the same lean), and then carefully mark which sheet goes where. I may acid-etch each pane if I have to dismantle it again. The doors close with less than a millimeter of clearance on each side - hah! Take that, dust!

    The middle panes of glass are unsupported, and are the scariest part of the whole construction. Both wobble in and out when the doors are opened or closed. I'm still looking for some H-channel. I might use packing tape on the back pane.

    Minwax Polyshades is a terrible product for more than 2 coats. I learned this lesson the hard way. The wood got 6 or more coats, each coat had to be sanded to get it smooth again. It didn't help that I started from light pine plywood, and I wanted a rich dark walnut colour. To get there, the wood grain is almost completely obliterated. Polyshades is a stain and polyurethane in one - stain, followed by poly, would have been much more efficient.

    Since the Detolf shelves wouldn't cover the full area, I made new full-span shelves from 1/4" acrylic - my only major mistake in this project was cutting these to the wrong measure! Tip: don't list your cut sizes too close to each other. Correcting the mistake took days to cut new pieces, rout lap-joints, and super-glue together to extend the shelves to the proper depth!

    I got pretty damn lucky finding the acrylic - there's a place called "Architectural Clearinghouse" near me, they salvage stuff from renovations and demolitions. I paid $30 for a modestly scratched 5x7 foot sheet of 1/4" acrylic, which would have cost closer to $200 new!

    DSC04038_sm.JPG DSC04039_sm.JPG

    The acrylic I bought was second hand, and somewhat scratched - which suited me! I personally prefer frosted shelves in a display like this, so both sides of each shelf got hit with 800-grit sandpaper. This also provides _lots_ of traction for those hard-to-pose figures, and looks better than the drawer-liner stuff I've used in the past.

    I may buy some u-bolts and insert the original glass shelves from time to time, haven't decided yet.

    I spray-painted the grey Detolf 'wires' with a little silver - I can recommend this for every Detolf!

    My first LEDs were too cold/blue. My second set was too warm/yellow. This time I made sure to buy "natural/neutral/daywhite", and they're awesome (5630s for the curious). I used about 6" shy of the 10' roll.


    All the shelves and LED shrouds are removable. I used JST power connectors in one corner to disconnect the lights. I used a computer power supply (total overkill - my LEDs need 54 Watts, the PSU can supply 450! But I also wired it so I can use the 5V rail off the PSU, which I intend to power individual LED spotlights, motorized parts, maybe a turntable eventually. I'll wire in a 4-line wire, and I bought a simple 4-colour remote which will let me control each shelf individually. I considered doing the same for the main lights, but didn't want to over-complicate an already complicated project.

    The aluminum shrouds reduce LED glare from most angles, but also provide a mounting position to face one set vertically. I didn't do this on my previous LED lighting experiments, and always found tall figures and figures at the back too dim.

    I still intend to build "flipper" style retracting doors on the lower cabinet portion. I just need a break from this project for a while. I started in November, finished in March!

    I was half done before I discovered that someone had done it before: user silverstreak70 shared their version a while ago. Great minds think alike!

    Excluding the Detolf's (both of which were gifts), I spend about $235 Canadian on this project - plywood, stain, aluminum, acrylic, a new set of LEDs, and hardware. I'd say that a sheet of plywood is the strangest thing I've ever purchased from a Black Friday sale!

    For those interested, I've put my basic construction plans on my Google Drive.
    I didn't go nuts explaining things, so let me know what's unclear.

    There's an Excel sheet for calculations, and some diagrams to go along. I'd suggest printing the diagrams and writing in numbers from the spreadsheet.

    Feel free to ask for clarification here, or via PM.

    Hey - in my case, I didn't didn't combine anything. My cabinet, and the shelves, are custom-built.
    I bought a huge sheet of 1/4" acrylic and cut 3 full shelves from it.

    Glad you like it. I never liked seeing everything else through each shelf. My very first attempt to LED light a Detolf used angled shrouds made of black construction paper! It looked surprisingly good. The 2nd time around, I did the same, but covered them with a "laser holographic" duct tape I found at a dollar store. The aluminum is cleaner.

    I can think of two possibilities. You can etch glass with this stuff or similar - but I'm not sure it'll work right on tempered glass. You can also find various "frosted glass" spraypaints, meant just for this.

    Thanks. I think I have a pathological disgust for waste - so using the remaining panes of glass (and getting a larger case) still gives me the warm-fuzzies :)  :bay 

    Thank you! My basic design can certainly be extended with a 3rd detolf, but you'll have to start leaving panes out. I'd be _really_ interested to see someone try my design but double-deep! I'm not willing to risk it, but I think it's possible.
    Every section of aluminum in my case has LED strips behind it.
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  2. Superquad7

    Superquad7 OCP Police Crime Prevention Unit 001 Super Content Contributor

    May 19, 2003
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    Needs basic review/resourcing.
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