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Putting together your own Ikea furniture

It’s exciting!  You’re strolling out of IKEA with that over-sized shopping cart filled with flat-pack boxes and an image in your head of how organized your place is going to look.  Fast-forward two hours where you’re surrounded by mysterious bits of wood and metal rapidly spirally toward a nuclear meltdown.

Instead of being a weepy girl, do this:

  1. If possible, assemble it in the room that it will be living in.  Clear as large a space as you can.  Turn on some good music.  Put on your safety glasses (they’re cooler than an eye-patch).
  2. Open the box (use a box cutter, not scissors) and match like parts.  Separate the small parts in a muffin tin.
  3. Grab the instructions and match the parts to the instructions.  Make sure you have all the required parts – no point getting halfway done to find out you’re down one screw.
  4. If you’re missing a part and IKEA is not close-by, bring an identical part and the instructions to a hardware store.  Yes, you’ll buy the item (or maybe a box of 100) but it will be easier than going back to IKEA.
  5. Lay out the big parts roughly how they will go together.
  6. Read through the instructions several times and be aware that you might be tempted to do things out of order – go ahead and do so if you’re comfortable with re-engineering just be aware that it’s easier to put the furniture together than to take it back apart.
  7. Those tiny tools that come with the furniture will only ruin your manicure.  Grab your cordless screwdriver (not a cordless drill – this is smaller and lighter), your driving bit set, a hammer and your beverage of choice (please be aware that alcohol is probably best saved for afterward).
  8. Be gentle – MDF (medium density fiberboard) is delicate and unforgiving.  It’s better to go slow and steady than to go fast and dent your furniture or strip a screw.
  9. If you’re feeling daring or creative, look online for ideas on how to customize your furniture.

When all else fails, IKEA does offer an assembly service or you can hire a local handyman to do it.  Personally, I think you should just grab your screwdriver and go for it.


4 responses to “Putting together your own Ikea furniture

  1. Liza

    Having assembled a lot of IKEA furniture in my time, I SO agree with point #4. I can also highly recommend a rubber mallet for point #7. Very useful in the assembly process. Favorite website for #9:

    Overall, assembling your own IKEA furniture is liberating and rewarding. However, do you have any advice on getting OUT of IKEA with said furniture alone? I have never *strolled* out with my furniture. OK. Maybe the first few steps. Then it’s wrestle it into the car followed by somehow get it up the stairs into my apartment. After a few too many of those types of trips, I felt I had no choice but to institute a “don’t shop alone at IKEA” policy. It’s a pretty good activity to do with friends. Any other ideas?

  2. ...

    I’ve always been a fan of pulley systems but they seem to have fallen out of favor with automobile manufacturers.

    IKEA parties are great. Since IKEA requires a car, the gas money can be split. Bring along one or two friends who also want desperately to buy flat pack furniture and put it together themselves (inspired by this blog no doubt). Decide which order the furniture will be dropped off (hauled up – again, a pulley system would be handy) and assembled. The last hostess is responsible for refreshments!

  3. Liza

    IKEA party… great idea 🙂

  4. Brenda ⋅

    Re: IKEA assembly service…my one experience with this was philosophy major who arrived to set up my shelves the night before an Xmas party.

    We had a lovely discussion, agreed on how to arrange the furniture for best conversation groupings for the party…and then made detailed notes on how the IKEA instructions were incomprehensible 🙂

    The shelves waited until the new year.

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