Sunday, 10 June 2012

Review: IKEA Alex Drawer Unit for paper storage

IKEA - Alex Drawer Unit on castors (white) 
Article Number : 401.962.41
This is a review of the IKEA Alex Drawer Unit on Castors - which is my second IKEA purchase as part of the "let's try and store everything better than hitherto" campaign.

I've been storing paper for artwork and works on paper in portfolios for ages and frankly, the number of portfolios was getting very difficult to manage both comfortably and aesthetically!

I have long wanted a plan chest in theory however:
  • they mostly tend to be size A0 or A1 and that's much bigger than I want to house and much bigger than I actually need
  • if big they become incredibly heavy to move when full - plus you need to start thinking about floor strength!
  • they're not that easy to find
  • most would look good in an office but less good in a home
  • if you do find them, they're very often fairly expensive
Which is why, when I spotted the IKEA Alex Drawer Unit on castors in IKEA, I was so very pleased that at long last it looked like I might have solved the problem of what to do with all that paper.

The bottom line - I was right.  With one caveat - I actually need two!  Here's the review.
  • If you want to check paper sizes - take a look at the chart at the end
  • If you've created paper storage or reviewed another purchased product providing storage for art paper please leave a comment and a link to your review

Product: IKEA: Alex Drawer Unit on castors (white)

  • Ease of Assembly: Not overly complicated however you do need 2-3 hours and to be very focused on what you’re doing while assembling it. 
  • Quality / Robustness: It’s particle board not wood. That said it’s good quality and the unit feels robust when finished
  • Functionality: The drawers take large quantities of paper and all move really easily even when full. The castors work well on carpet and the whole unit can be moved easily. This enables the unit to be placed it in front of items you use only occasionally 
  • Value for Money: Very reasonable compared to alternatives - UK Cost £85 plus delivery charge. (USA $119) 

Technical Details:
  • size: 
    • Width: 67 cm / 26 3/8 " 
    • Depth: 48 cm/ 18 7/8 " 
    • Height: 66 cm / 26 " 
    • drawers are designed to take paper up to size A2 with space to spare 
  • material
    • Basematerial / Drawer front: Particleboard, Acrylic paint, Melamine foil, ABS plastic 
    • Bottom panel: Particleboard, Melamine foil, ABS plastic 
    • Back panel: Particleboard, Melamine foil, Melamine foil 
    • Drawer back / Drawer side: Particleboard, Foil 
    • Drawer bottom: Fibreboard, Acrylic paint
  • colours: available in white and blackweight: 32.4 kg
  • weight: 32.4kg

Who should buy this?
  • artists who work on paper 
  • artists wanting to increase their flat storage capacity for paper, mountboard and completed artwork 
  • pencil artists needing a neat storage solution for the home
Who should not buy this?
  • people wanting flat storage for whole sheets of watercolour paper and mountboard
  • large capacity 
  • draw width enables storage of smaller paper/works in two stacks side by side 
  • drawer mechanism makes drawers run very smoothy 
  • castors make it easy to move around 
  • visual instructions are very helpful - and you can download the Alex Unit instructions before you buy 
  • easy to make up - one person can do it - but you do need to concentrate during assembly. It took me about 3 hours working slowly and carefully (I only made one mistake and that was easy to undo!)
Think Again?
  • if you want to store full size sheets of watercolour paper or mountboard you’ll need something bigger 
  • if you’re not good at using a screwdriver or DIY find a relative or friend who is - and be nice to them! 
  • The USA version indicates the drawers are designed for letter size papers. They are in fact much bigger than this - see paper sizes chart at end
Manufacturer / Distributor:
  • IKEA - their website helps you find a store near you. 
  • Plus you can order online (but will need to pay a delivery charge)
  • only available new from IKEA
A series paper sizes compared to Letter and Legal Sizes


vivien said...

I was lucky enough to gain a plan chest through Freecycle :>) - slightly less than A0 but much bigger than A1 - not a standard size.

It's perfect as I do need drawers that size for large work. Getting it upstairs wasn't easy! 2 men plus me pushing to squeeze it through the space at the foot of the stairs - delivery man saying 'it isn't going to go' me saying 'it IS' .

This Ikea one looks good for smaller works.

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

I have two of these and they are just perfect :o) It's so nice to be able to keep everything flat and neat. There is a 'slightly bigger than A3' unit with nine drawers in this range which is good for paint/mediums/etc. (It's about twice the height.)

Tina Mammoser said...

Ooooh, Lisa that A3 version sounds perfect for me! Going to have a look for it. :)

Deborah Paris said...

I had looked at these but when I read the paper size was letter, I dismissed it. But, if it's actually larger then this could be perfect for my smaller papers.

Making A Mark said...

I have a feeling it's a mistake on the part of the USA IKEA. I looked at the item numbers on the UK and the USA sites and they're the same.

I'd send them a query if you'd like to be on the safe side.

Making A Mark said...

Actually - I've queried the item description with IKEA USA - and I'll let you know what sort of response I get.

In the meantime I'm going to check out that 9 drawer unit!

Deborah Paris said...

Katherine- thank you! I'll be interested to hear.

Making A Mark said...

It appears that communicating with IKEA is far from easy - I keep getting an automated response which indicates they haven't read the query

Helen said...

Thanks for this, really useful and probably just what I need. Only caveat is how sturdy the bottoms of the drawers are as I'dlike to actually store my A3 drawing board in one ideally!

Making A Mark said...

It's very sturdy. Lots of paper weighs a lot.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit confused. Can it fit up to A0 paper?

Making A Mark said...

No. I can't get my full size mountboards in it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this information -- you've saved me the trouble of ordering it! As a New-York based designer, I am so frustrated to see that this won't hold 11 x 17 paper front to back (it is about 16.75" deep). Perfect for A3, I'm sure. If only there really were a "US" version that took the need for 11x17 into account.
Cheers -- George

Making A Mark said...

I don't think IKEA (from Sweden) comes in American sizes! The rest of the world has gone metric.....

ang5svr said...

Best cheapest option for those like me needing to house full sheets is to order martha stewart craft collection flat file. Was available on home decorators but site closed as home depot purchased and available on their site. There are also some knockoff build plans available on pinterest/web for this collection. Highly recommend this route as im not a fan of particleboard or fiberboard

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