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Easy to assemble, sturdy, reliable, adjustable… each of these describes wire shelving. You’ve read the directions, you’ve put it together, and you know it’s a simple system. But what to do when your space changes? What if you need to reconfigure your shelving or need to break it down to move it? Luckily, taking apart your wire shelving is as easy as putting it together. Follow the instructions below to learn how to get those stubborn shelves loose.

Before you get started, there is one tool that will make your life a lot easier. You’ll need to purchase a rubber mallet from your local hardware store. These hammers are great for tons of small do-it-yourself projects, and well worth the $5 investment.

mallet pic

If you’ve got a rubber mallet, the next step is to flip your shelving unit over. Since gravity is what keeps the shelves wedged onto the plastic shelf clips, you can use gravity to help detach the shelves from the clips. Grab the underside of the shelf frame and walk it gently to the floor to prevent scrapes and damage, then stand it upright so the feet are at the top.

upside down

The easiest way to take apart your wire shelving unit is starting at the top (the shelf that used to be the bottom). Use the rubber mallet to strike the frame in each corner. It’s important not to hit the shelf, which can damage it. The force from the blow should dislodge the shelf from the wedged clip.

strike shelf 2

Since wire shelves are good at redistributing weight, the shelf may try to re-attach to the shelf clip when you strike it. For that reason, it helps to keep a hand on the frame. By applying and maintaining downward pressure while striking the frame, you prevent the shelf from springing back onto the plastic sleeve.

hand on shelf
strike shelf 3

Once you’ve struck all four corners loose, the shelf should slide down the post. If it gets stuck at a severe angle, just tap it from the underside to level it out, and it should fall loose.

shelf at angle

Now that the shelf is out of the way, the next step is to remove the shelf clips. If they’ve been in place for a while, this can be a challenge. The best way to take them apart is to place your thumb and forefinger on both sides of the clip where the two halves meet, and twist the clip. They should come part with a little friction. If you’re having trouble, you can always wedge them apart with something slim and sturdy, like a fingernail. Be sure to keep the clips handy for when you are ready to put your shelves back together.

split sleeve removal

After you’ve taken the clips off the posts, you’ll lift the shelf off the post. From here on, it’s a simple matter of rinse and repeat. If your posts are over 48″ tall, then you can unscrew the top half from the bottom half, making it easier to remove the final shelves.

half posts

When you’re on the last shelf, just put a foot on the edge and you can twist the posts out of the corners. That’s all it takes!

final frame

In short, it’s as easy as one-two-three:

1. Flip your shelf over

2. Hit the shelves from the bottom to knock them loose

3. Remove all components from the posts

Now you’re ready to take charge of your space, pack up your wire shelving, and move it into its new home! Let us know if you have any questions by giving us a call at 800.637.9508, or use our live-chat feature on www.shelving.com.

16 Responses to “How to Disassemble Wire Shelving (With Video)”

  1. John says:

    Hi, my nsf wire shelving is completely stuck at one corner do you have any tips to help slide it out, the banging with a rubber mallet is denting the wire, is there something to lubricate it?

    • Shelving, Inc. says:

      John,
      You didn’t have any success after flipping the shelf upside down?
      What environment does the shelf exist in? Is it dry or humid, warm or cool? It is possible the plastic clips expanded slightly, creating a tighter fit within the metal collar. Lubrication likely won’t be able to penetrate the space between shelf collar and plastic clip.

      Our recommendation is try to apply heat to the plastic, using something like a blow-dryer. If your clips are somehow defective, or lose their ability to securely hold the shelf, you can always purchase replacements from Shelving.com

      • Daniel says:

        Hi John,

        We use metro wire shelving in Australian FastFood stores , best way to remove a stuck clip if you have spares is to chisel at it with a small faced screwdriver/

        Our shelves get ‘glued’ on by the leaking cooking oil , and they get stuck all the time.

        Cheers
        Daniel

  2. Lela says:

    Hi. I need to split my wire shelf in half so I have two shorter shelves. I found where t attached into the other metal pole but cannot pry them apart. Can you please offer me any advice to split my shelf?

    Thank you

    • Shelving, Inc. says:

      Hello Lela,

      I’m having a bit of trouble picturing your situation. How tall are your posts? If they are our brand of SI shelving and 60 inches or taller, they can be disassembled by unscrewing in the middle portion. Grab the posts on either side of the connecting point and twist them counter clockwise. Please let us know if that is the solution to your problem!

      Thanks,

      Shelving Inc Staff

  3. barry says:

    great advice, thanks!
    Two of the joints wouldn’t budge and the metal started denting. I don’t have a blow dryer but a cigarette lighter did the trick.

  4. Jackie says:

    Hello,

    I have a shelving system that was left in my rental from the previous tenants, it is 72″ tall and I would like to break it down to a shorter shelf. The shelves easily came off the poles but I am having a hard time getting the poles to split in half…I see the connection point and have tried twisting but no such luck. Is there some trick, like grease or a wrench?

    Thanks!

    • Shelving Inc says:

      Hi Jackie,
      Generally the posts or “poles” should unscrew without a problem and honestly, we haven’t had this issue with our shelving units before! If you don’t mind a scratch or two on the posts, a wrench may come in handy, or try some WD40 and a pair of gloves (like for gardening) that grip well.
      Also, if you plan on making it a shorter unit, post caps added on top of the posts (assuming yours are a 1″ diameter) will make the unit look more finished!

  5. Erica says:

    All but 2 posts have come off. I’ve pounded and twisted, used brute force, added W2… but these things seriously won’t budge. And now they’re getting dented and looking like someone’s beaten them… and that’s true. I have beaten them. With hammers and screwdrivers, by jumping on it… basically anything that has some weight to it. SOMEONE has to be able to disassemble the shelving unit in a more dignified fashion. I practically put myself in mortal danger trying to undo the other shelves.

    • John says:

      Get two pairs of vise grips and two rags. Wrap the rags around the pole on both sides of the seam. Clamp vise grips on the rags. The rags are just to prevent the grips from scratching too much. Make sure grips are tight enough, then twist. Get a buddy to help if needed.

  6. Nathalie says:

    Hi! I have split sleeves stuck in the shelves (the poles are out already). I bought an item that was returned to the store, and I guess the previous owner tried to put the sleeves before installing the poles, then he/she obviously gave up afterward. Now that I’m trying to put the storage unit together, I have no idea how to first, take the sleeves out. Do you have any tips? Since they are in plastic, I don’t want to risk breaking them with a wrong manoeuvre. Thank you.

  7. venus says:

    I have severl of the wire racks and they have a black stopper on top are they hard to get off and can I get them off to add more racks to make it a bit taller

  8. anna latimer says:

    Thanks for the helpful hint here! Turning the unit upside down was the trick!

  9. AM says:

    Turning the shelf upside down was really helpful, especially because mine was taller than me!

    Also, if anyone’s reading this and realizes they don’t have a rubber mallet, I used a hammer wrapped in a folded towel to blunt the impact/make the contact surface bigger.

  10. Susan Rooney says:

    Thank you so much for the clear and inspiring instructions! (So much better than the Omega site.) I was doubtful that I would be able to get the clips off. Now I know it’s a go! Hope it goes smoothly for me.

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