IKEA: Help! I accidentally built a shelf

Tips to Avoid IKEA Assembly Mistakes
Tips to Avoid IKEA Assembly Mistakes

“Help! I accidentally built a shelf.”  IKEA Assembly Mistakes

Typing those words into a search engine can result in some hilarious articles and blog posts. Most of them point to the idea that building flat box furniture like that from IKEA can be addicting. Responses range from “You need a twelve-step program” to “That’s all right, you can always sell them.”

They do point to something that needs to be considered before purchasing said furniture type. Before purchasing a build-it-yourself furniture, you need to know what you’re getting into. Here are a few tips.

Skill level

What level are your tool skills? How dexterous are your hands? If you don’t know a flat blade screwdriver from Phillip’s head, you may be in trouble. In this case, IKEA has a plan for you. They have people in the store who will build it for you.


Please look them over. They can’t be read, as they are wordless but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be looked at. If they aren’t clear there are a lot of youtube videos that will help show how to put the piece together. Doing this before starting will greatly increase the odds of having a viable piece of furniture when you’re done.

Lay it out

You will need a clean surface to lay out the pieces. Use the same orientation found in the instructions, as it shows which piece goes where and in what direction. The veneer of the furniture can be scratched or chipped during assembly, so you can use a clean rug, a canvas drop cloth or the box the furniture came in.

Check the pieces

Is any of it broken? Do you have everything? If you don’t, contact IKEA. They can either refund or replace. Getting halfway in the project and discovering a lack of key screws will be a problem and broken furniture isn’t just ugly, it’s dangerous.


You will probably want some, even if it says none are needed. Hours of hand cranking screws into the furniture is going to result in some sore fingers and wrists. A drill can screw them in a lot faster. To ensure that the furniture is level you will need either a laser or bubble level to check it. A slanting dinner table isn’t great for keeping dishes on the table. A hammer will also be useful.

Forcing a fit

That is not a good idea. First, make sure the pieces are meant to go together. It’s nearly impossible to remove those little wooden pins once they’re in place. It is possible that a slight variation in the construction of the pieces exists, but it is wise to make sure things are being put together right.

Have help

Yes, one person can do it, but it goes better and faster if there are at least two people, especially for more complicated projects. As an example, when putting together a chest of drawers, one person can do the chest and another can do the drawers. If something heavy needs lifted it can be a two-person project.

Categories General

Leave a Comment