Tutorial: How to Build Flatpack

The kitchen has been going in over the past few weeks, but before that could start there was an awful lot of flat pack to do. Now I quite enjoy building flat pack but plenty of people don't. Here are some tips to help make it less painful. I'm using an IKEA BEKVAM step stool as an example here, but the principals are the same with whatever you're building.

Lay out your fixings and count that they match the ones in the diagram

Lay out your fixings and count that they match the ones in the diagram

Firstly lay out all your pieces and count you fixings, organising them into little piles. Boring and a little OCD but it will help you immensely later on. Do the same with the pieces you're fitting together. Note differences in individual pieces, in this example the shorter edges on the cross pieces that gives the slant on the legs.

Layout the pieces ready to put them together

Layout the pieces ready to put them together

If your piece is solid wood may be worth going over everything with some fine sand paper to smooth out the edges and pre-drilled holes. Also if you're going to paint or varnish anything, this is the time to do it while everything can be laid flat.

Once your pieces are prepped and accounted for, read through the instructions once before starting. At least once. Running through the whole process helps to understand why some of the more counter intuitive steps are there, and will save you having to undo work from getting ahead of yourself.

Follow the steps! Sounds obvious but often people think they can bash on through and then find they've come a cropper.

Stage 3 as drawn . . .

Stage 3 as drawn . . .

Stage 3 as built!

Stage 3 as built!

If you lay you pieces out so they look like the diagrams it helps, but also bear in mind that it won't look exactly like the diagrams. Your subject to gravity in away that the illustrator of the instructions is not! If you find it helpful to relate the drawings to the reality you can prop pieces up while you put them together. This also helps keep both your hands free to deal with the fixings and tools.

Generally, if you have to force it you're doing it wrong! All (well most!) flatpack furniture is carefully designed to fit together well, so if its not working check its not operator error first. Having said this, the drawers for the kitchen we put together this weekend were an exception to this rule. Nothing would get the base piece in short of wailing on it with a rubber mallet!

Notice the detail drawings showing a loose fitting of the screws at this stage

Notice the detail drawings showing a loose fitting of the screws at this stage

Note when the instructions tell you something specific, like the fixings here not being tightened all the way. It will make subsequent steps harder for you if you don't follow these.

Take your time and soon you should have something that likes like the finished article!

Stand back and enjoy your handy work!