Matt’s Quick Shelf

Not to be outdone by Joe, I made a shelf too 😛


On my workbench in my apartment I have a homemade power supply and an oscilloscope that remain permanently there. They’re not that heavy but I use them often. I have a bunch of wasted space because they are really flat on top. I also was running out of room to put my multi-meters and other electrical tools.

Messy desk with no shelf

Enter: Shelf!

I didn’t want to screw into my desk since its from Ikea so I designed it to slide on and sandwich between the desk and the wall. So if you have a table from Ikea that needs a shelf this is the project for you.

Unfortunately I did a really bad job of taking pictures during the actual building part so I designed the shelf in sketchup so it is easier to visualize.


3/4″ Thick wood – I used plywood I found at the makerspace ripped to 7 -3/4″ wide

Nails, Screws or Nail Gun – Something to fasten the boards together


Lets take some measurements!

I started with the thickness of my desk for the attachment area. If you have any Ikea desk similar to this one, this is the dimension (1-5/16″) you should use to start. During the fine tuning stage I ended up adding maybe 1/16″ more for clearances.

Desk thickness measurement

I want my shelf to be two tiered. I also need to get to the scopes power button which is on top of it. So next I measured the height of the lower shelf, making sure I designed in clearances for my hand to turn on the scope.

Lower shelf measurement

The scope tops out around 7″ so I added an inch for clearances.

I have a bulletin board above the desk which will be in the way so I need to stop my shelf before I get to it.

Max height measurement

To be safe lets call it 16″.

Now how wide do I need this thing to be?

Inside Width measurement

For float lets go with 21″.

Last but not least, depth.

Depth measurement

I didn’t want it to overhang too much so I used 7-3/4″.

Ok lets get sketching!

Sketched out idea
Assembled view of the shelf

This is what the shelf will look like when it is done.


This whole project was pretty much made on a table saw. You can use a sliding miter saw too if you have one that is long enough for your shelf depth. I would be interested to try this with a circular saw too. You could probably get all your cuts with that as well. Anyway enough about me fantasizing about tools…

If you material width is not at your depth already, rip your board. I used the table saw for this.

Next start cutting boards to length. Lets start with the shelves because they’re simple.

Dimensions of the lower shelf
Dimensions of the top shelf piece

Easy enough right?

Now lets do the sides.

Dimensions of the side pieces

The overall length ends up at 18-9/16″. Remember you need two of these.

Lets cut the table groove. I believe I started the cut with the table saw then finished with a jigsaw. Notice the 3/4″ piece of wood at the end of the groove. This is your space between your table and the wall. Obviously, this dimension cannot be nothing, but don’t make it 2″ either. Something else to note, the 2″ chunk on the bottom of the board dosen’t need to be 2″. It is not interacting with anything so it is overhang. If you need to adjust the slot width take material from this side because of that reason. You want to maintain the distance from the desk height to the bottom of the lower shelf which matches my dimension of 1″ plus the oscilloscope height.

Next lets look at the groove for the lower shelf.

Groove dimensions

I did this because its really easy to do on a table saw which I had access to. It also helps align everything for gluing/fastening later. If its easy enough to do for you definitely do it but the shelf can be made with two boards on each side and two identical shelves (add 3/8″ to each side of the lower shelf and make the sides out of 4 pieces, two cut to 6-1/2″ for the top and the other cut to 8″ above the groove if that wasn’t clear). I was sort of sloppy with this dado and my shelf turned out lovely so don’t sweat too much accuracy.

Cool! We have all our pieces cut! Lets attach them together.

Since this was a quick job I didn’t use wood glue but that’s not a bad idea. I lined up all the wood and shot brad nails in attaching them. Like I said earlier use what you have/are comfortable with. Screws and regular nails work. I had access to a brad nailer and am generally lazy so I used it. Remember to drill pilot holes for your screws!

Here is the finished shelf with a snarky snapchat caption added to it. I hope you liked this project!

Update: It didn’t

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