10 Tips to Build Ikea Furniture

By Contributor Pamela Chan

How many people does it take to build a piece of Ikea furniture?

Answer: 4

  •  1 to focus on the mechanics of putting the nuts, bolts and parts together
  •  1 to assist by handing over the nuts, bolts and parts, and provide muscle power
  •  1 to arrive later and inform the first two about all the mistakes they have made
  •  1 to provide the final “you made a mistake” advice missed by the third participant

Let’s face it – most of us don’t have pickups to haul second hand furniture around town. If you are faced with the prospect of heading to the land of flat pack furniture to buy a large piece of furniture, here are ten tips to help you get the job done.

1. Choose the Right Furniture

Talk to a staff member who knows the section you are looking at and see if any new versions in your chosen category are going to be coming into the inventory. When we made a visit in July we heard that a new bed would be coming in a few weeks. It turns out that that the Flaxa bed is the cheapest, best quality twin bed on the floor.

Before you make your purchase, scope out the As Is section. We found a Hemnes daybed at 50% off that was not damaged. (Only the box was damaged.) This is how we ended up buying a bed that would normally be outside of our budget. I got a bed that referenced traditional Swedish furniture, which made me feel very happy! I love all things Scandinavian. Shopping at Ikea is all about the aspirational living experience, after all.

When you do the math, there are A LOT of parts keeping this bed together!

2. Organize your nuts and bolts

We used the large egg cartons that you get at Costco to organize the nuts and bolts. We checked each nut and bolt against the list of materials and wrote out the number on a piece of paper – placing it in the same holder as the part. This makes it easier to find your parts are you are putting the furniture together.

3. Do your homework

Read the manual (preferably the PDF version) from begining to end. If a video clip is available, watch it online. You can find videos about different pieces on the Ikea USA website. If you can’t find your model shown there, do a search to see if there is a viewer submitted video that can help.

4. Analyze the manual

Look at each part of your furniture carefully. Is there a curve in a piece? Are the holes on either side of one face symmetrical? If not, why not? Can you really see which way a bracket goes when you look at the document? Look at the PDF version of the manual and zoom in on each picture. As an example, in the Hemnes bed if you place the long metal beam upside down, the wooden slats won’t slide through evenly. You can only see the orientation clearly when you zoom in on the PDF version of the manual. The manual and video did not clearly show which direction the bar is facing.

5. Respect Your Nuts and Bolts

The nuts and bolts from Ikea are not strong. If you over handle them, they can strip easily. This is one reason why you don’t want to be redoing assembly points. Using an electric screwdriver also helps to not strip the heads of the bolts. Some of the metal plugs that are inserted into the wood to contain a bolt need to be set at the right angle inside the wood in order to receive the bolt.

10 Tips to Build Ikea Furniture

6. Assemble With Care

The Hemnes bed is part of the only line in Ikea that uses real wood. Even with real wood, it is possible to insert a dowel and have it break through the other side. The world sticker shown above hides a cracked piece where a dowel broke through. This is a result of a poor design but unfortunately you won’t realize it until it happens. If the piece you’re inserting looks like it could split or come through the press board or wood, proceed carefully.

7. Pace Yourself

Some Ikea pieces – including beds – require a lot of assembly. It is a good idea to plan the assembly over two days. Unless you are a wizard at assembling furniture, it’s going to be a bit of a process. If you become tired and grumpy you will be more prone to making mistakes.

8. Check the Fit

If two pieces of the furniture aren’t sliding, closing or coming together right, chances are the nuts, bolts and dowels aren’t fastened tightly or correctly or you’ve put pieces together wrong. Keep an eye on the fit as you progress. The worst scenario is to be far along in the assembly – perhaps you’ve even finished putting in the finishing nails – only to find out that you have to re-do half of the steps.

9. Know Your Strengths

If you are talented using a screw driver and knowing how to put pieces together, but don’t excel at reading manuals, pair up with someone who has strong visual skills. Since the Ikea manuals don’t have words, it’s critical that the person reading the manual has an eye for detail and notices every critical point. Not all of the critical and tricky points will be highlighted on the manual.

10. Shop Around

You don’t need to buy all of your needs to complete the look of a piece of furniture at Ikea. We purchased our mattress at Jysk, on sale, after buying the bed at Ikea.

How many people in your home does it take to put together a more complex Ikea piece of furniture? None. At least that’s one opinion at our home. Buy the flat pack, bring it home and look at the instructions. Realize that it’s too complicated to put together and call someone from Ikea to come and build it for you.

Pamela Chan lives in the Tri Cities area near Vancouver with her husband and four year old twins. They enjoy exploring cultural events and scenic local parks. On BCfamily.ca she writes about ideas ideas that strengthen our communities and celebrate multiculturalism in British Columbia.