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Building my own sewing cutting table using Ikea shelves

I finally finished my new sewing corner and my custom built cutting table. Seriously it was a lot of work and by the end of it I was beginning to experience stress related symptoms, probably because all I did was work at my day job and working on the remodeling every “free” minute. That is the reality behind many of the Pinterest friendly images I’m sure, at least that was my experience. So here goes.

First a little back story

My children has shared a big room, and in that room three different small “rooms” were created using  DIY dividers. One room for each kid and then a mutual computer corner. When my eldest moved out, the younger understandably wanted to get the space for herself , but as both me and my husband also wanted more space, so we came up with a solution that would give all three of us that. It meant moving out all my fabric storage from the bedroom and so that my husband could use that space, and instead I was able to use the kid’s computer corner and turn that into a working and storage space.

I had seen this Ikea hackers tutorial by Karen Ackva with Expedit/Kallax shelves made into a cutting table tutorial floating around on various social media, and wanted to make something similar as I need all the extra storage I can get. So I knew it would be worth the extra work compared to just buying a table.

But let’s start with the before picture shall we?

Here is the corner before it was turned into a work space. As you can the remodeling of Anja’s room is already on it’s way, hence the scraps.

Since both me and Anja needed new furniture we rented a van and went to Ikea. Here is me feeling excited before we began shopping.

And this is four hours later, when we finally had bought all we needed and packed it into the van. We live 3 floors up with narrow spiral stairs and no elevator and scarce parking opportunities outside. So I knew that the rest of the day would be kinda nightmarish trying to carry it all up to the apartment. And it was.

The next day I was still exhausted but we spent the entire day building Ikea furniture, including three Ikea Expedit/Kallax shelves that would be the foundation for my new cutting table and a wardrobe for all my fabrics and some of my me-made clothes. At least we have an electric screwdriver, but I was still aching everywhere when the day was over.

Two days later I headed to Ikea again because I had forgot to buy some stuff to the wardrobe that I was also building. Everything is sold separate in Ikea so you really have to be focused when buying stuff there. I also went to the hardware store and bought a big pine slab for the table and a masonite/pressed board to use underneath the shelves.

I stained the pine board to make it look like darker wood. Sweden is pine country (70% of Sweden consists of wood, mostly fir) so it feels unnecessary and expensive to buy some fancy and perhaps foreign wood when we have so much locally produced fir.

Then it was time to put it all together. Here I discovered two things that wasn’t great. First the width of one shelf is less than the short sides of two shelves. So there was a pretty big gap. And secondly the size of the pressed board was too big (I used the measurements in the tutorial).

Either they measured it wrong in the store or Ikea has changed the sizing of the shelves (or the numbers in the tutorial could be wrong, but I doubt that). Anyways, if you try this at home – don’t saw/custom order the board until you have assembled the shelves and can double check the measurements.

I added seven wheels (also from Ikea) This is also how the board is attached to the shelves.

Then I flipped the table over to add the cutting board to the shelves.

Voilà, the finished cutting table. All in all it was worth the work and I knew that even when it felt painful, so that helped me get through it.

And here is a video where I show the inner workings of the table

P.S. Once I also built a headboard for our bed, here is a tutorial on how I did that (much easier than the cutting table).


  • PsychicSewerKathleen
    April 4, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Congratulations Johanna! What an incredibly challenging project but SO satisfying I’m sure when it was all done. I’m really fortunate to have my husband who does all that sort of work for me (he’s a carver and just all around wood guy) – I honestly would be completely daunted at taking on a task of this magnitude. Do you think your sewing skills were somewhat transferable in the planning and execution of this project?

    • Johanna
      April 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm

      Ah I envy you, having a wood person in close proximity is a great asset! It is daunting for me and I can’t help thinking that part of this is gender bias ingrained in many of us females, that we don’t think we can do it. But in reality it is just like you say, that craft skills can be transferable. I have seen this with my own eyes the other way around, when my super handy builder/wood crafty ex-husband decided to make a pair of trousers out of an old leather coat. And they turned out fantastic! I’ll admit that I was bit miffed though, since I felt he hadn’t struggled with sewing as much as I did 🙂

  • Esther
    April 5, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Oh, wonderful job! That reminds me that for months I have been thinking of redesigning our home office/sewing room in order to achieve more sewing space, but haven’t found the time for that yet, I have been too busy sewing!!

    • Johanna
      April 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      I can relate! Sewing is more fun and to be honest I have done very little sewing the last few weeks due to all the work and fatigue from the remodeling project. But I do think that having a good work space can in fact boost the lust to create so hopefully it will be worth the effort for you!

  • Jenny
    April 6, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Johanna, that’s beautiful! It’s just what I need! Thank you for sharing, and congratulations on your hard work! I look forward to seeing pictures of the cutting table in use! Do you find it’s the right height, so you don’t need to lean over to cut out fabric?

    • Johanna
      April 6, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      SInce I’m only 160 cm (5’3) I almost have the opposite problem 🙂 With wheels the height options are more limited, but there are so many leg heights out there that I think we could all find a height that could work.

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  • Dee Joyce
    August 26, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    I LOVE this idea, but I am wondering if the height is enough for me. Would you tell me the measurements overall? I am looking for something that measures 36″ high, at least 24″ deep and the width maybe 48 or so? I have looked in some many places for something to use as a cutting table, but haven’t found one I like. The idea of using the shelves and drawers would suit me perfectly. Great job!

  • Robbie
    October 18, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    I’m starting to design a new sewing space. This blog post is going to be so helpful when I finally implement the final design. Thanks for all you are doing for the sewing community.

  • Robbie
    October 18, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    One note: the blog post you link in the Ikea hacks is using the Expedit shelving. When Ikea retired Expedit and replaced it with Kallax, the new design had slimmer sides so the overall size is smaller. That’s probably why your base was too bit.

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  • Terri Knight
    October 10, 2019 at 11:26 am

    I love the idea of this table. Is the plan to sew at the table also, using a higher chair? Not sure I could fit two tables in comfortably. Terri

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  • Norma
    December 4, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    I love your finished table! Alas, here in the US, I can’t find a pine slab as wide as yours 🙁 (that size you used is exactly what I need) so I will probably need to go with birch plywood

    • Pat
      June 24, 2024 at 11:07 pm

      I used two 6′ butcher block counter tops together for a large top.

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