How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture – My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )
Do you hanker after well designed furniture but can’t afford it? How about flat pack? Scared of it looking cheap and wobbly, with poorly fitting doors etc? Be scared no more, Ikea could well be the answer to your problems. Never shopped in Ikea before? Have a look at my shopping advice here.
If you followed my previous advice, you got home safely with all your bargains and flatpacks and are ready to make your house into a home.
Many people, sadly often the lovely men in our lives (I’m not sexist but guys, you know this is true) do not like following instructions. If this is you, then walk away. I can’t help you. Walk away, with your big hammer, your tool belt and be prepared to break things. Get your ‘might come in handy stuff’ box, aka toolbox, for all the left over pieces you didn’t think were necessary. You may want to keep the drill handy too, you know you love a power tool. For those who are less gung ho and want to do the job as suggested by Ikea, this post is for you.
Right then, who’s still here? You did swot up and buy, or borrow, all the required tools didn’t you? No? Oh dear, you may have a problem, or not. DO NOT PANIC! I can help. You will just be reading instructions, or rather following text free diagrams with little pictures of people helping you along the way. No language difficulties here.
Check your watch, it’s not a race, this is a task that could take time. If you don’t have time, leave it. A panicky last minute build could be disastrous. Happy? OK, we’re going in.
My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – My 5 Practical Tips
1. Prepare your Construction Zone
Are you ready to go? Great. Get changed, be comfy, wear trainers not slippers or barefeet (bare toes and sheets of glass or wood don’t make for a healthy mix.) Grab a glass of water, it can get heated.
It’s a good idea to cover the floor area or table (only use a table for small projects. Picture frames usually have glass in them, you need to keep it flat. Furniture is heavy, you need to keep it as low as possible.)
Bedsheets / blankets to protect your flooring or carpet are ideal. You don’t want to produce one gorgeous piece at the cost of scratches and marks on another.
You need as big a space as you can wrangle, spreading out will help you keep track. It’s also safer, you don’t want to be stepping over or on the flatpack pieces during construction.
At this stage it’s worth putting your drink where it won’t get knocked over but you can reach it. You may need extra energy so bring the Ikea Dime pieces, you DID buy some didn’t you? These can double up as mini treats as you finish each stage. Put a pencil there too.
2. Place The Boxes in the Room You Need the Furniture
I know it’s tempting to open the box as soon as you get it home and have a look. This would be a mistake. Unless it’s a small item, it’s always best to construct it in the room you will use it.
If you tear open the box, you may not be able to carry it. It may not even go through the doors. It may not fit where you expected, although if you followed my earlier advice it will definitely be the right size.
3. Open the Box, Read the Instructions
Ikea use diagrams to illustrate the requirements and safety instructions. READ THEM. Read the instruction brochure from beginning to end. Then grab the pencil. Ah ha, did you miss that bit? OK. Go get a pencil.
You will have noticed whilst reading that Ikea often list options. For example, how to have drawers on one side of a desk or the other. Flat pack furniture is often made of numerous units that can be custom built. It is important to follow the instructions inline with how you chose to design the final piece.
Scribble on the brochure so you know which pages you need to read. You may need to ignore some and jump forward to another section. Whilst mid-construction it’s really easy to forget this and you could end up with something you don’t want or like. Oh yes! Been there, done that. It is not alway easy to deconstruct, trust me, so please take the time to read the whole thing.
At the front of the instructions it will tell you what tools you need, often it’s just a screwdriver, rarely a drill. Drills are to be avoided, unless you know what you’re doing. They can overtighten screws and damage the final product. Allen keys are often the tool of choice and they are often improved by a plastic extender, genius!
HEALTH and SAFETY. This is worth repeating, it was in my earlier post.
If the instructions say fasten to the wall, then FASTEN TO THE WALL! Falling furniture can kill, or seriously injure, that’s why the warning is there…
…Read the labels, if it says 2 people are needed, it says it for a reason. You’ll need 2 people…PLEASE be careful.
If you’re on a budget, friends, neighbours or colleagues may help in exchange for a meal or home baked cake. Just make sure they are capable and will work safely under your supervision.
4. Take out all the Pieces and Arrange Safely Around the Room
This is the stage where you will see the skills of Ikea designers first hand. Everything fits perfectly into that box.
You may find little blocks of cardboard that fill gaps. DO NOT throw anything away at this stage. Sometimes you may suspect a piece of hardboard is packaging to discover it’s the back of a drawer etc. Check all the little boxes, they might contain your tranklements, screws, plugs etc.
Now, embrace your inner neat freak and set out the little pieces. You need to count them and check they are as listed in the brochure. It’s rare, but you could be an unlucky one who finds something’s missing. If so, it tells you in the brochure what to do. Follow tip 5** and next time you may have spares to rummage through, so problem fixed before you start. As I say it’s rare anyway.
Some of the screws can look very similar so line them up in types / sizes. They will have numbers shown on the lists, these are also given in the main instructions. If in doubt double check the numbers, it’s a pain in the b*tt if you use the wrong ones and have to rebuild. It is best to place them on something that makes them easy to see, not a deep pile carpet.
5. Follow the Instructions and Build Your Baby
Yes, now you can build. Like when you decorate and spend days prepping, then get the joyful first stroke of paint on the walls. This is when you finally get to put that Allen key into a bolt and see your beautiful new art or furniture take shape.
Follow the instructions. Take your time. Take it slowly and check your progress as you go.
I love this bit, it’s really rewarding.
This stage is when you fully appreciate why science was so important at school. Why engineers are truly the geniuses (genii??) that keep this world spinning. The accuracy of the design, the joints, the slots and notches all come together into a solid structure. Things that were minutes ago just squares and shapes laid snugly in a well fitting cardboard box are now a three dimensional gorgeous addition to your home.
You can also ride in on their geeky scientific coat tails and imagine you too have an inner Einstein or da Vinci. You too can make things. With your own hands.
If it’s a piece you may need to move, and the design allows deconstruction, put the instructions somewhere safe. In the back of the bottom drawer or even stuck to the back of the furniture. Or take photos of each page and store electronically.
**Put any spare nuts and bolts in a jar or plastic bag. If you live a minimal lifestyle and don’t have any where to keep them, I’m sure you’ll know someone with a shed who will take them off your hands.
Keep hold of the Allen key. With any flatpack furniture, screws can work loose over time, so drop the key in your tool box, or tape it to the furniture in a position out of sight but accessible. The chair I recently built had a handy little fabric slot inside the back, especially to store the Allen key.
I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, genius!
Finished? Place the piece in its new home. Take a photo and claim bragging rights on social media!
Final task? Recycle the packaging.
Did you break a nail? No, didn’t think so.
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