The Ten Commandments of IKEA Furniture: Part 2

By    August 19, 2013

Man breaks overtigthening IKEA commandment

This is Part 2 of a two-part series about IKEA and other brands of flat-pack, ready-to-assemble furniture. For commandments 1 through 5, please refer to Part 1.

6. Thou shalt employ only one assembler per piece of furniture.
The idea that IKEA ends relationships is certainly overblown, but it’s rooted in a harsh truth: You’re better off alone. Adding another person to the mix creates an unnecessary layer of coordination and cooperation on top of the already stressful task. Because of the high likelihood of errors, tag-teaming an IKEA assembly project is tantamount to hosting in-laws for an unspecified period of time–you’re just asking for a disagreement.

IKEA commandment - work alone

Little do they know, these two are setting the stage for a heated round of the blame game.

Other than the concentration required to stay on task, there’s another rational reason to go it alone: perspective. IKEA instructions portray the furniture from a consistent angle. It’s helpful to position yourself in such a way that your perspective matches that of the instruction manual. Minor details like which way to face the pre-drilled holes become more clear this way. With two people, you lose that advantage and you’re more likely to face something the wrong way.

In my experience, the only time you need an assistant is when you need to do some heavy lifting (such as placing an assembled piece on top of another piece or rotating the furniture up on its side). Otherwise, let any volunteers focus on assembling other pieces.

7. Thou shalt assemble only one piece of furniture per room.
The corollary to the sixth commandment is that if you take the divide-and-conquer route, you should spatially separate the assembly areas as much as possible. There’s risk that you could mix up parts or fasteners, but the true reason for this commandment is that the additional clutter and noise can and will break your concentration.

IKEA Commandments - assemble one piece per room

Susan is happy because her concentration is unbroken by additional construction projects.

8. When in doubt, thou shalt consult the internet.
If you’re stuck during an IKEA assembly process, you usually can find the answers online. If it’s a common issue (like the instructions are downright incorrect), you’ll find commiseration and advice on IKEAFans.com’s Assembly and Installation board. Otherwise, you can post here to get advice from the site’s knowledgable user base.

Perhaps in acknowledging that the paper instructions just don’t cut it, IKEA created a YouTube playlist. It’s full of tutorials for the retailer’s more popular items.

9. Thou shalt not move the piece once assembled.
Assemble your piece in the room where it will be located, preferably in the exact spot that it will live, to avoid moving the assembled piece. IKEA furniture is not designed to be moved. Some movers actually won’t touch IKEA furniture because of its propensity to succumb to gravity when lifted.

IKEA commandments - Don't move IKEA furniture

Someone tried to move this chair without first disassembling it.

If you must move a piece, disassemble it completely and pack it flat before doing so. It may help to use the instructions to go step by step in reverse order. If you threw away your instructions after the assembly like a non-hoarding normal person would, you can find a copy on IKEA’s website or on IKEAFans. Put fasteners and other small pieces in bags; tape the bags to the disassembled furniture to make sure they don’t get lost in the move.

10. Thou shalt take thine time.
Don’t rush. A hasty assembly increases the chances of a misstep. Even if you take your time, there’s a chance that you’ll finish the steps and something will be wrong. So plan for failure. This is simply a collection of wooden pieces and fasteners with vague instruction–this is basically a recipe for a minor disaster. It’s quite possible to build an entire piece and then realize you put something on backward. If this happens, rejoice in the fact that you have a clear task at hand, and the rebuild will be much quicker than the first go-round.

If this or any other major meltdown occurs (a broken shelf, a scratched door, a wobbly table), don’t let a piece of furniture ruin your day. Take some deep breaths and rejoice in these facts:

  • First off, IKEA has a great return policy. If you can’t get your TV console to stand up without wobbling, you can return the (semi-)assembled piece for store credit. This is how how IKEA stocks its “As-Is” sections.
  • Second, IKEA furniture is relatively cheap, so you probably aren’t going to be out a whole paycheck if you need to buy another piece.
  • Finally, IKEA carries replacement parts for broken pieces. You probably can affordably replace whichever component you manhandled into four pieces.

If you follow this set of 10 principles, placing emphasis on each step as you undergo the trials and tribulations of a home self-assembly, you’ll be blessed with a piece of furniture that looks just like the floor model. You won’t suffer from upside-down drawers or wobbly table legs. You still may shudder when you think about ready-to-assemble furniture, but you’ll have faith that your relationships with loved ones will emerge unscathed. In fact, you should feel a tinge of pride as you look back on your IKEA journey.

This is a Part 2 of a two-part series. Read Part 1 here.

As a member of SpareFoot's SEO team, Tony writes columns about the best way to store commonly-stored items. He also writes about marketing, technology, and other fun stuff like zombies and IKEA furniture.

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  • Craig

    “Susan is happy because her concentration is unbridled by additional construction projects.”

    She may indeed be happy but, undoubtedly, Susan would be much happier if the preceding sentence made sense.

  • SpareFootTony

    Hate hate hate

  • FatBear

    How about “thou shalt not buy Ikea if thou wanteth an item which will actually last”

    The stuff is real junk as far as I can tell. Breaks easily and they don’t sell replacement parts unless you just bought it within 90 days. I guess they figure if you wanted something to last longer than 90 days you wouldn’t buy Ikea in the first place.

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