Kallax Spacer for Small Box Games

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The IKEA Kallax is the quintessential shelf type used by many board game enthusiasts. Sure, other types of shelves work just fine – maybe even better – but it’s hard to beat the combination of price and box-friendly dimensions.

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The finished (unpainted) Kallax shelf spacer. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

Aside from overall space constraints in the home, one of the challenges of storing board games is what to do with the small ones! Stack them up tall, then the bottom of the stack is hard to access. Store them in a drawer or cabinet, then they can’t be seen (when trying to decide what to play). I’ve seen a few people use this wine insert, but honestly it’s subdivided too much; Not wide enough for most small-ish boxes, including: The Resistance: Avalon, Arboretum, and Tiny Epic Galaxies.

So, my solution to small box storage was to build a long and thin space between my lower 2×4 Kallax and my upper 2×2 Kallax.

Design

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Composite board screwed into the 1×3 frame. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

I wanted the space to be tall enough for a single box. Most small box games are about 2″ tall. So, I built my frame out of 1″ x 3″ pine finish boards. Then, I used a fairly thin (but strong) composite board to add stability and rigidity.

The 1×3 down the middle lines up with the center support on the Kallax, and is almost exactly the same width. The edge supports on the Kallax are definitely wider than the 1×3. So, if that’s important to you, then a 2×3 edge member might be a better match.

Most small box games are no more than 8″ in the longest dimension, so I put the cross-members at 8″ to 10″ back from the front face. These cross-members are simply there for strength and to support the 2×2 Kallax which I’ve set on top. They’re staggered for additional strength – and to accommodate a few longer boxes if necessary. (The space behind the cross-member is facing the wall and is unused.)

Construction

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The finished shelf spacer spray painted black. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

First I made sure the composite board was the same size as the Kallax footprint. Then, I cut the 1×3 boards and made sure the center one lined up with the Kallax’s center support.

For attachment, I used a combination of mechanical fasteners and glue. For the three primary 1×3 members, I put a strip of wood glue on them, then attached the composite board to the 1x3s with a few wood screws (countersunk slightly to keep the tops flush – see pic). None of the 1x3s are mechanically fastened to each other (only glued) because I didn’t want fasteners exposed on the ends.

The black spray paint I used doesn’t have the same sheen as IKEA’s factory finish, but it’s only apparent when looking from specific angles. For the most part, the spacer shelf blends right in!


Bonus: Game Recommendations!

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Between two Kallaxes. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

A board game related post wouldn’t be complete without some recommendations, right?! Here’s what I’ve been playing…

Raiders of the North Sea is shooting up my personal ranks for both multi-player and solo. The quick turns and silky smooth worker placement is great. I got a little crazy with this one, buying the playmat, an expansion AND the deck of solo AI cards. The art is stunning and its about as immersive as a euro worker placement game can be. I think the expansions help a lot by adding additional victory options and giving your viking crew even more flexibility.

As for light-hearted group gaming, Village Pillage has been a big hit for me. Folks are instantly amused and disarmed by the turnips, and the game is a breeze to learn. The meta game is quite fun; Which cards are your neighbors going to play, and how do you counter them while also improving your standing? After a game or two, you can even introduce diplomacy and try to convince players of whom they should attack!

As for the kids, my 5yo daughter and I are really enjoying Harvest Dice, which we picked up a few months ago. It’s a “roll and write” game, where players are drafting dice from a common pool and drawing/planting vegetables into their garden. Orange dice are carrots, green are lettuce, and red are tomatoes. The tactile nature of it is quite fun.

Well, that’s it. Thanks for reading and good luck storing your small box games!

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