ikea hack cabinet size

Cutting down IKEA units

Although there are many different sized cabinets these days, sometimes you need a size which just isn’t available. Being able to modify a cabinet gives you more options.

Bear in mind though that it’s often not just the cabinet you’ll need to modify, but the doors also. Arguably the doors are much more problematical.

This week I needed a cabinet 2.25cm tall, a figure in the middle between the 210cm and 236cm IKEA offers. Right, time to pull out the saw.

First up, you’ll need to decide whether you’re cutting off the top or bottom of the cabinet and this might depend on the location of the cabinet and where you’ll see the ‘cut’ edge of the door (if applicable) from.

The cabinet itself is no problem, they are easy enough to cut down with little to no visible evidence. It’s the aforementioned doors where you’ll need to think carefully. Generally you aim for the cut edge of the door to be out of sight, either low or high.

My situation meant I could cut the bottom off the door and since it’s very close to the ground (a PAX wardrobe), it’s unlikely anyone will ever notice. I should point out that modifying anything other than the flat doors is pretty difficult and you’ll need some good tools and skills!

For example, a flat door can be carefully shortened and the cut edge sealed with a matching paint after a careful, light sanding of the edges (or an iron on edging strip if available in the right colour).

But a pressed and coated panelled door needs a very, very precise cut, usually just inside the thicker panelled edge and a careful gluing back together. And even then you might see the join if you look closely. A ‘proper’ traditionally built panelled door can be taken apart and shortened before gluing up again.

Here are some pics of the process I employed to shorten the cabinet…

ikea cabinet cut shorten modify hack
Sometimes you need to make a custom size cabinet from a standard size one…
ikea decide which end to cut modify or hack
Carefully decide which end of the cabinet you want to cut off. Which end is the least visible?
Think about the door too, which end to cut down?
clamping up ikea cabinet
After carefully cutting the cabinet side down to the size you want, place the off-cut onto the new cabinet side. Make sure it’s the same way up and around!
template to hack ikea cabinet
Make sure the edges and ends are absolutely square. Double check them after clamping up, they can often move. Tap them into place and give the clamps another squeeze.
ikea hack set drill depth when modifying cabinets
Choose the same sized drill bit as the holes already in the cabinet. Set your drill depth carefully to match the existing holes, allowing for the extra thickness of the ‘template’. I used a piece of electricians tape here.
use offcut ikea template drill holes
Using the clamped off-cut as a template and guide, drill though the existing holes and into the ‘new’ cabinet side. I stopped drilling just before the tape hits the surface of the template.
ikea hack cabinet different sized holes for dowels and screws
NB: Be very aware that there may be two different sized holes!!! One size for the screw in ‘cam-lock-screws’ and a different sized hole for any wooden dowels. This pic shows just the holes for the screw in ‘cam-lock’ fasteners.
cabinet size custom cut down ikea
Finished hole(s), perfectly replicating the original ones, making assembly exactly the same as the full height cabinet side. Note the ‘odd’ spacing, a dead giveaway that I’ve shortened the cabinet side.

Incidentally, all the above also applies if you want to narrow a cabinets width too. Then you need to replicate the fixing holes into the end of the ‘new’ top/bottom. Or you can screw though the outside of the cabinet sides, if the ends are not going to be seen.

Just face the cut door into a space where it’s not visible. Or do away with the door altogether, I use this technique often to create custom spaces for trays, towel rails and the like. Ideal for filling in small gaps at the end of cabinet runs.

There you go, I hope that’s given you a option you might want to use in the future when you’re stuck with an awkward sized space which doesn’t fit a standard sized cabinet. It’s doable in a pinch, and especially for an out of the way end or corner. It’s easy-ish, and of course it’s simpler if you’ve got a sliding plunge saw.

If you’ve only got a hand saw, you can still do this modification, and then use a very small bead of white silicone sealant on the inside of the cabinet to ‘hide’ the rough edges of the saw cut. If you have to cut a door with a handsaw, allow a little extra to tidy up the cut with sandpaper on a block.

Stay well and keep makin’ sawdust 🙂


Comments 2

  1. thanks for the info,couple of things you could add,a guide on how to cut neatly-i think most people are worried about chipping and a finished /fitted picture would be nice

    1. Post

      I’ll try to add a pic of the finished job later. Just waiting for a few things to come back into stock at IKEA before I can get finished.
      Thanks for the comment and the suggestion 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.