Assembling Flatpack Furniture

Assembling Flatpack Furniture

Depending on your viewpoint, assembling Flatpack Furniture can be a time-consuming-knuckle-scraping- frustration-filled headache or an opportunity to unleash the pent-up frustration of your inner creative being!
“I’m thinking my spirit level might be faulty!”

So how do you go about ensuring that your Flatpack building experience will be as pleasant as possible, and endeavour to ensure that your relationship survives the assembly process?

First thing’s first …….. preparation and forethought will help ensure that the furniture assembly process is as painless as possible.

1. Measuring Up

Make sure you have adequate space to assemble (an area the width and height of your assembled furniture plus approximately two feet (61cm) around, is desirable), and  – very importantly – if you are building a tall item (such as a wardrobe) adequate ceiling clearance is essential (Don’t forget that carpet can reduce ceiling height too!).

Most tall items and especially wardrobes will need to be built on their front and then lifted into an upright position, this is because wooden furniture is fairly weak at the points where it is jointed, and left unsupported it may well fail and collapse.

Some wardrobe designs can only be built standing up and will usually require an assistant to hold the unsupported piece (or pieces) upright until further pieces are attached and support is provided. Ceiling clearance can still be important for some of these items because the top piece may need to be lifted and screwed in place.

If you have more than one piece of furniture to assemble in a room, assemble any beds last as they absorb lots of space when built.

2. Tool Up for a Top Job

Having the right tools for the job is essential, a cordless drill/driver or electric screwdriver makes light work of the numerous cam bolts and screws which will need driving into place. If your drill/driver has a clutch make sure this is turned down to a setting which protects the material you will be fastening to.

Although it’s more than possible to build with a standard hand-operated screwdriver, your palm may well be a little tender or even blistered at the end of the construction process, so a pair of strong gloves, or lightweight gardening gloves are useful to protect sensitive palms, however, don’t forget that this will give you extra grip and you may be tempted to over-tighten screws.

Whilst we are on the subject of over-tightening, as most flat-packed furniture will be made of wood, a wood substitute or have plastic components, it’s well worth noting that it’s easy to over-tighten the various screws and split or damage the material being screwed into – use restraint!

3. Unpack, Check & Stack

Space cleared and ready, carefully snip the straps and cut the tape holding the boxes together (flatten the box and use it to build on, in order to save your wooden floor). If your item has multiple boxes, try to locate the one which contains instructions and fittings (screws etc.) first, this will usually give you a list of the pieces to be assembled and the type and quantity of any fittings.

Group the pieces into their respective categories i.e. put all the drawer parts together in an area you can define as the ‘drawer area’, then put the main frame pieces together and so on, ensuring that you check the pieces for damage or identification marks as you go.

Now familiarise yourself with the instructions and the different types and lengths of screws and fittings, group these and count them off, ensuring you have all the pieces you need to complete your assembly.

4. Visualise & Mirror

Most self-assembly furniture frames will have a left and right side, which is made of wood, MDF or a similar material, a back board and some type of door or doors to the front.

Imagine how these fit together before starting your assembly, then lay out the left & right panels so that they mirror each other (finished (or painted) edges pointing away from each other). Most items of furniture will require these two pieces to have their fittings inserted first and they are usually identical, but please check your instructions thoroughly before using this tip.

5. Let’s get this Straight!

Once your newly crafted furniture is standing in pride of place, you may find doors don’t quite align or drawers look a bit skewed.

This is more often than not due to the surface they’re sitting on not being level. In day to day use we tend not to notice the rise and fall of our floors, but it’s always there!

There are a few ways that a piece of furniture can be levelled, and often the furniture manufacturer will have placed ‘chocks’ in the packaging, these can be used to raise one side of your furniture to bring it level with the other side. Use a spirit level to help work out which side is lower.

Door hinges sometimes have a level of adjustment in-built, dependant on the manufacturer, and can therefore be ‘fine-tuned’ by carefully adjusting the small screw in the centre of the hinge. Trial and error will show you which hinge needs adjusting which way, but be watchful of the gap between door and frame, so that they don’t chafe together.