Tips for Ikea Furniture Assembly

I’m kind of running out of steam this week. It’s been full-on, non-stop, go, go, go for a few weeks now. Last week a ton of work was completed by the workmen and pretty much the rest is up to me.

I got the kitchen completed and the cabinet boxes assembled. Now that they have been installed I can assemble and install all the pull outs and put on the doors. I come home from work and put in a little time on those and it is nearly done.

It is starting to look like an actual kitchen!

I seem to be missing a couple of door and drawer fronts but I suspect they are in the garage somewhere. They may have just gotten tucked between boxes. When you accept a delivery like this, Ikea gives you three days to determine you have everything. Well, that just wasn’t something I could have done in three days. I’ve had to work on this project over several weeks so if the stuff didn’t come in, I may have to buy them again which would totally suck. It kind of surprises me too because Ikea has always been right on top of all their bits and pieces in the past.

I’m not going to worry about it until I find out I have to worry about it.

I do love how the cabinets look. I think they look warm and rich and cozy which is pretty much my “decorating” style.

I was nervous about drilling the holes for the handles. There are no pre-drilled holes in the cabinet doors which is kind of cool because you can decide where the handles go and which way the doors open but you can seriously make things look cheap and janky if anything is crooked or mis-aligned. Cabinets that had the handles next to each other were especially worrisome because if they aren’t both exactly the same, it will be painfully evident.

I’m pleased with how mine are turning out. I created a jig to keep things precise and make my life a whole lot easier.

I grabbed a left-over piece of the floor base trim. It is very close in size to the trim on the cabinets so it was pretty easy to measure out where the handle would go vertically and horizontally. The drawers were a little trickier which is why there are some red lines marking out the horizontal placement. This helped me identify where the middle of the drawer was so I could place this correctly.

I place this on the cabinet door, usually lined up with the side and bottom edges of the cabinet door, use a large wood clamp to hold it in place and then drill down through the holes. I just need to make sure I’m going in straight and not leaning the drill a little which will slant the hole and might make the holes not quite align with the handles.

So far so good. I only have 5 cabinets and 4 or 5 drawers to do. When I can find them.

I love assembling Ikea furniture. I find it very relaxing. It is kind of a puzzle and, at the end, you are rewarded with this thing you want and need. I know a lot of people hate assembling or are intimidated so I’ll just give a few of my tips that help make me successful.

Keep things very organized. If you have more than one piece, like I do with my kitchen, only assemble one piece at a time. Do NOT open multiple boxes and try to assemble multiple pieces at the same time. Their instructions are incredibly precise and if they call for a specific piece of hardware, you need to be able to identify what that is which becomes difficult when the hardware for multiple pieces get mixed up.

Towards the end of the project, I’ll start putting left-overs into a single bowl, but during assembly, each person and box has their own bowl that is restricted to the piece being assembled at the time. The previous piece’s hardware does not get mixed in with the next piece.

Follow the directions to the letter. Don’t skip a step because it seems obvious and don’t try to over-think the step. When you just follow the directions they give, you will have success. I don’t often get confused or stymied by assembly and it is because I’m a very good direction follower. I can probably thank my knitting and crocheting for that. You learn to have faith in the person who put the directions together.

I’m still loving the new floor!

When in doubt, find the YouTube video! I quickly found the answers I needed on YouTube and so I barely missed a beat.

I like to share the tools that were the star of the project. This time it was my faithful ratchet screwdriver and a pair of gloves. The ratchet screwdriver was a stocking stuffer a few years ago but it is so good in projects like this. The handle contains a bunch of different sized phillip’s and flat head inserts. This is also much easier on my delicate hands because it does ratchet which means I can turn the screw and just ratchet back the handle and turn again rather than have to awkwardly flip my wrist around losing pressure against the screw. This is really helpful when you are twisted into a tight spot and can’t get your other hand in to hold the screw to get it started.

The other project star was the grip gloves I picked up. I saw an Ikea employee using these and thought they were genius for moving boxes! Since I had over 115 boxes I would be moving around several times, and I really didn’t want to drop anything and ding corners, I grabbed a pair for myself at Home Depot. Not only were these absolutely essential in comfortably moving the boxes, but they were great for moving the slick cabinet pieces themselves. The surfaces don’t always have something for you to grip and these gloves have a rubber palm and fingers that grip so I recommend them to everyone! I even wore them when I was assembling the pieces because you could just hold things better and more still.


Photo courtesy of

My last piece of advice is that if you absolutely hate putting together furniture like this and just don’t do it well, there are people out there that will do this for you. I don’t recommend spending money on something that won’t be put together as it should. It’s OK if you don’t dig the assembly process and delegate. I thought I could probably hang these on the wall myself but all the trim and panels were done so beautifully by the guy I hired to do this. He is a woodworker and I think he did a much better job than I would be able to do.

Ikea is, what the furniture industry calls, knock-down furniture. It ships in pieces that the consumer needs to assemble. I’ve worked in furniture stores that sold knock-down furniture and Ikea is, hands down, the best in the business. No ones keeps things organized like they do. It is so hard to keep track of all the parts and bits and pieces. I’ve had a lot of Ikea furniture over the years and had very little trouble with missing pieces or parts.

A lot of people complain about Ikea furniture but it never claimed to be anything other than very affordable furniture. This is not fine stuff but they don’t pretend to be. This is great, inexpensive stuff that works for a few years. You don’t move Ikea furniture much. You don’t move any particle board furniture. It doesn’t disassemble and reassemble well.

I have to say though, after my years as a furniture buyer, a lot of furniture sold in stores isn’t much better than Ikea. I think I’ll put together a post on furniture quality and what you can look for if you truly want nice pieces. In the mean time, I’m happy with my Ikea pieces and I definitely get my money’s worth!

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