Is It Possible To Cut Ikea Floating Shelves?

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Cut Ikea floating shelf

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Ikea floating shelves are very popular in people’s homes as more and more homeowners are looking for that seamless and uncluttered look. From my 30 years as a cabinetmaker, floating shelves became an everyday occurrence where I have cut down more than 20 of these. I would often get asked can Ikea floating shelves be cut to size?

Ikea floating shelves can be cut to size in their length provided the cut end will go against a wall and the bracket is not affected. Cutting a floating shelf in its width is possible although it does present challenging work and is not recommended for the average DIY person.

As you can see cutting down an Ikea floating shelf is easily down but dealing with what’s left and how to make it look right is the difficult part. I will explain how it’s done and what I mean in the coming paragraphs so be sure not to miss any of it.

Can Ikea floating shelves be cut to size
The back edge of an Ikea floating shelf with a marked line to be cut

Can You Cut Ikea Floating Shelves?

Ikea floating shelves can be cut quite easily with some care, although due to how an Ikea floating shelf is made, you will see the internals of the floating shelf which need to be fixed unless the cut end of the shelf can be butted against a wall.

This may be why so many people ask can Ikea floating shelves be cut to size. Let me explain further what I mean with some pictures.

Can ikea lack shelves be cut to size

When Ikea floating shelves are cut, the insides of the shelf are exposed. The internals of Ikea floating shelves are made from cardboard in a honeycomb pattern for strength.

How do you shorten Ikea shelves

If the cut edges are seen, you will need to patch these up or cover them. I will show you how below.

Cutting Down In Length vs Width

As I mentioned earlier, it is much easier to cut a shelf down in its length. The reason is that the floating shelf brackets are set in from the ends quite a bit and it is easy to cut them down in length because you won’t be disturbing the shelf brackets. See the below photo explaining what I call its length and width/depth.

How do you cut an ikea shelf
Floating shelf length and width

If you needed to cut it down in width/depth, it becomes a little more complex. The below list is what would be required to reduce a floating shelf in depth.

  • Remove the floating shelf bracket
  • Cut the back off the shelf to give you the desired depth
  • This would remove the recess for the bracket (photo above) meaning you would then need to cut another recess. If you didn’t, the shelf would not sit flush against the wall
  • Depending on how much you cut off the shelf, the brackets may need to be cut shorter in length so they don’t bottom out. You will need a metal hacksaw for this
  • Another possible issue depending on how much you cut off the back, a new piece of timber may need to be inserted for the brackets to slide back into

As you can see from the above list, cutting a floating shelf down in its width or depth would be a task for a more experienced woodworker rather than a DIYer. By all means, give it a go if you need to. I thought I would just explain clearly what is involved as I have cut down many over the years.

Be sure to check out my full article explaining how strong are Ikea floating shelves?

Can Ikea Lack Shelves Be Cut To Size?

Ikea Lack shelves can be cut to size as they only contain cardboard and are easily cut with a saw. Care needs to be taken to ensure the cut edge goes against a wall or you will need to patch the exposed end up.

Cutting ikea floating shelves with circular saw
A circular saw will cut deep enough to cut a floating shelf in one pass

If the cut side of your shelf is going to be seen, I will go into more detail below on how to fix this up.

How Do You Shorten Ikea Shelves?

Ikea shelves have cardboard inside and can easily be shortened by cutting with a table saw or circular saw. Care must be taken to apply masking tape before cutting to avoid chipping the laminate or finish on the shelf.

I will provide you with some full step-by-step instructions below on how to shorten your Ikea shelf. I will also go into detail on how to fix the exposed cut edges of the shelf if they are seen.

Ikea Floating Shelf Brackets

Ikea floating shelf bracket
Floating shelf bracket

It is important to understand how the brackets work on Ikea floating shelves before cutting them down in size. Floating shelf brackets generally start in from the edge of at least 12 inches (300mm) on larger shelves.

Be sure to read my article showing what screws to use for Ikea LACK shelves as the instructions provided are next to useless!

The brackets are made from light-duty steel that could easily be cut if needed with a hacksaw. The poles on the bracket also extend most of the way through the depth of the shelf.

Considerations should be made when cutting an Ikea floating shelf so that the bracket will not be affected.

While the poles of the floating shelf bracket that extend into the shelf can be cut, the actual square part with the screw holes should not be cut as this may affect the strength of the floating shelf.

How Do You Cut Floating Shelves?

Floating shelves are easily cut with any circular saw or handsaw as they are made from chipboard with a cardboard interior. Cutting to length is far easier than cutting them in width.

The below steps are what I do to cut a floating shelf to a length:

  1. Decide on which end you will cut off – The shelf has 2 holes in its face that fix into the brackets. These holes face upwards if above head height or down if below waist height.
  2. Mark the length with a tape measure, pencil and square. These are the squares I recommend.
  3. Applying masking tape over the cut line is optional here if you think your blade is not sharp. Masking tape will help keep the laminate from chipping while you cut. If you do add masking tape, you will need to remark your line over the tape.
  4. You can use a circular saw or handsaw to cut the shelf. If using a circular saw, make the depth of the blade is deep enough. If using a handsaw, you may want to apply masking tape to the bottom as well and take great care to cut square.
  5. You will be left with the cardboard exposed interior after it has been cut.
  6. If the cut edge goes against an end wall, you don’t need to do anything further except mount your shelf.
  7. If the cut edge will be seen, you will need to remove the PVC edging off the offcut. Do this carefully with a chisel.
Cutting down a floating shelf
Remove PVC strip off the end of offcut on a floating shelf
  1. Then use your chisel to remove any excess glue from the back of the PVC strip.
  2. You may need to take a knife and remove the excess cardboard from inside the end you will patch up.
  3. This is done so you can then insert a piece of timber in the end. The timber will act as a place to apply the glue so the PVC strip will stick. This step is a little more involved but can be done.
  4. Once the timber insert has been glued in with wood glue and is dry, you may use contact adhesive and apply it to both the timber insert and your PVC strip
  5. Let the glue tack off for 10 minutes and then stick together. Be careful here to make sure the piece is aligned properly. Contact glue is unforgiving if you need to adjust it.
  6. Clean off any excess contact glue with a cloth and thinners.

As you can see patching up a cut end to look good takes some work. You should take these steps into consideration before starting the job!

Here is the contact glue I use and recommend!

How Do You Cut An Ikea Bergshult Shelf?

An Ikea Bergshult shelf can be cut with a circular saw, jigsaw, or handsaw. Care needs to be taken to apply masking tape to the cut line to ensure the surface finish does not chip out.

These types of shelves are no different from any other timber shelf. They are easily cut with most saws but you need to be mindful of the cut end will be visible.

As I explained earlier, trying to cover up the edge of a floating shelf can be somewhat difficult. A Bergshult shelf is generally a full thickness of the board and may just need some paint applied to it that matches the shelf color.

Cutting down Ikea floating shelves

What Is Inside An Ikea Floating Shelf?

Ikea floating shelves are mostly hollow inside and contain cardboard in a honeycomb pattern and chipboard to support the metal brackets. These materials are used to keep the shelves lightweight.

The shelves are made with cardboard to keep them lightweight and to keep the cost of producing them down. If Ikea shelves were made from solid wood or chipboard, they would be far too heavy and the shelves would sag. See this article where I explain how strong are Ikea floating shelves.

The remainder of the floating shelves is hollow. This is once again done to keep the weight to a minimum.

Conclusion – Can Ikea Floating Shelves Be Cut To Size?

Ikea floating shelves can be cut to size but it is easier to buy one that is closer to the size you need. The shelves can easily be cut with a circular saw or handsaw if needed.

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