PANYL’s Giant, Moveable IKEA Expedit Worktable Hack

PANYL, Inc. fabricates IKEA-hacking supplies and we needed a very large worktable to lay out materials and cut prototypes. We wanted to be able to store various tools and supplies in the worktable while making something we could easily move around for product and hacking photo shoots. Could there ever be a better reason to IKEA-hack our own custom solution?

Materials and cost:

(6) 2 x 4 IKEA Expedit bookshelves @ $89.99 each = $540
(10) 4” industrial casters @ $3.00 each = $30
(1) 10’ x 4’ x ⅝” plywood @ $20 = $20
(1) 10 'x 4' x ½ hardboard sheet @ $20 = $20
(1) 10' x 4'x ¼ opaque white acrylic sheet @ $250 = $250
(30) 1 ¾” drywall screws @ $0.10 each = $3
(16) Assorted Simpson ties @ $1 each = $16 (TP15 - tie plate; ML26 - angle)

TOTAL = $879

The hack was done as follows:

• We built a total of six (6) 2x4 Expedit units. We bolted three of them together, side-by-side-by-side, using a total of 16 Simpson ties brackets.


• We affixed the brackets to the inside upper corners of the cubby holes, at the far ends of the Expedit units. Each bracket connects to two Expedits, creating two sub-assemblies, each consisting of (3) 4x2 Expedits.

• At that point we attached the 4’ x 10' x ⅝” plywood to the underside of the pair of sub-assemblies using drywall screws driven in the left and right ends of the Expedit units, where the frames are the densest. We then mounted five casters beneath each of the two “halves” made up of 3 Expedits each. We put one caster in the corner of each half and one in the center.

• Then, we overlayed the top of the whole thing with a hardboard sheet and laid a 4’ x 10” sheet of ¼” white plexiglass on top of that. We had planned to drill the hardboard into the Expedits, but after laying the hardboard across the whole table with the plexi on top of it, it stayed perfectly in place under it's own weight.  So we wound up not fastening the hardboard or the plexi.


• The entire assembly took about 6 hours: 2.5 hours to assemble the Expedits and another 3.5 hours to wrangle all the large parts together. The table is not only enormous, but it is solid as a rock. Most pleasantly surprising, it glides easily when firmly pushed with both hands, but doesn’t budge when leaned casually against, even with the casters unlocked.

• Once assembly was complete we had a chance to experiment with different PANYL Expedit customizations.   A simple, modern office take that leaves maximum space for storage:

An equally storage-oriented design that lets the tools and materials carry the decorative load:

And a PANYLhack (top, and below) that features PANYLsamples (available soon!) cut and cornered into art deco-inspired shape.



Thanks to everyone for the various comments via Lifehacker, Apartment Therapy and others.   Some responses:

@ACE on LIfehacker - 8' x 10' plywood was a typo - we used a 4'x10" sheet.

Regarding cost - most of it came from the Expedits and the acrylic. On the former, we made a judgement call that we were going with IKEA since we mainly wanted to save time. On the latter, we wanted an acrylic surface to cut directly on, and at that size the sheets are quite expensive.

So yes, I think with more time and experience, this could definitely be done more cheaply. this thing took half a day and is pretty polished. Compared to what's commercially available with these dimensions & features, we were pretty happy with $900.00. E.g. this example at Grainger, which has the same work surface as this but nothing like the storage and mobility features.  I'd also be very curious to see what a table with the exact same features would cost from custom supplier Formaspace.  I requested a quote, but haven't heard back yet.  Will post update when I do.