Monday, October 15, 2012


The Instructions Needed to Build an Ikea Bookshelf

1. Place the wooden pegs into the side of the large board.

2. Put the screws into the same board. There are two almost identical types of screws, so you’ve got a 50/50 chance of using the right one.

3. Put the two small boards on top of the large board.

4. The small boards are facing the wrong way. Do it again.

5. Get the other large board to put on top of the small boards. Does it already have a scratch on it?  Too bad.

6. Twist the plastic holders to keep your screw in place. You weren’t given any extra holders and they break easily because we made them out of plastic, so be careful.

7. Get the Gorilla Glue and try to fix the plastic holder you just broke. Now glue it into the board and give up on this step. 

8. Slide the back of the bookshelf in and screw it into the large boards. It seems that you made a mistake on the first step because you started with the wrong large board.

9. Deconstruct everything and start over.

10. Take your frustration out on your girlfriend, who you are moving in with, and let her do the same to you.

11. Now, do steps one through eight correctly.

12. You have a bookshelf!

13. Swear you’ll never go to Ikea again.

14. Go to Ikea to buy a desk, bed frame, chair, and two dressers.

15. Eat our meatballs. Eat them.


Previously: Sliced Bread. 

E.A. Weiss is a writer in New York. Follow him around.

66 Comments / Post A Comment


1. Google "Ikea assembly service nyc"
2. Call three options and end up with $60 quote for 3 pieces of furniture
3. The next day after work, watch assembly guy who owns actual tools assemble 3 pieces of furniture perfectly in 20 minutes flat.
4. Swear to do something productive with the hours of cursing and stressing that you've just saved yourself. Go on about your life.

Angry Panda

@Titania Ikea assembly service is a thing? I think I just found the perfect alternate career, I love assembling Ikea furniture!


@Angry Panda
"I love building this stuff. It's like high stakes LEGOs."


@ohmy Jess/Nick 4 EVA.

Reginal T. Squirge

Or, you know, just buy real furniture.


@Reginal T. Squirge I love the look of Ikea furniture but can I afford actual modern Swedish designers? No I cannot. Ikea and cheap meatballs it is.


@Reginal T. Squirge But Craigslist makes me so tired of lying about that I have a boyfriend. Is there a "male person to collect items I bought on Craigslist" service?

Reginal T. Squirge

I know how you feel. I recently had a similar thought process when I kept going to the movies/concerts by myself and then I thought, "Oh yeah... prostitutes."


@Titania Whoa. That is a thing? If I ever agree to lift the total Ikea ban from our house, this knowledge will save my marriage.


thank you @m

Tragically Ludicrous

Am I the only person who likes doing IKEA furniture? It's...fun? I feel like I shouldn't say it's fun, but I always enjoy myself doing it. It's like putting together a puzzle except then at the end you have a wardrobe! And then you can feel all tough and accomplished because you built a thing. It's great.


@Tragically Ludicrous No, me too! Of course, the most complex thing I've done is coffee table, so maybe I haven't been tested enough.


@Tragically Ludicrous I've taken apart and put back together my IKEA bed so much that it's second nature.


@Tragically Ludicrous I really enjoy putting Target furniture together which I assume is similar? I put together a kitchen cart the other week and it was 2 hours of fun times.


@Tragically Ludicrous Totally on your team. I love putting together IKEA furniture, the more finicky/fussy the better.


@Tragically Ludicrous I LOVE Ikea furniture something fierce. I think it's the tangible results you get from minimal effort.


@Tragically Ludicrous No, I love it too. I'm the loser who reads the instructions and counts all the little pieces before starting though.


@Tragically Ludicrous Yeah, hopefully it's not mean to say, I NEVER understand any article or humor about about the frustration of Ikea furniture, kids toys, etc. For me, furniture assembly is very satisfying to do and the Ikea process is the easiest of them all. You just have to take your time and read through it a few times.

The only time I was ever mad was when they packaged two left headboard end legs and refused to ship me a right one until I called the corporate office to complain.


@Tragically Ludicrous I definitely love doing it as well. And over the years I've assembled 2 dressers, a desk, several tables, and like 4 bookcases, so I know of which I speak!


@cherrispryte : I, too, mostly enjoy that sort of thing. Except when I ordered a new cage for the African Grey Noise Machine last year. Laughable instructions, missing screws, and -- which I didn't realize until I was 90% done -- a couple of pieces bent so badly they were unusable. Just getting all of it out of its packaging took nearly an hour...and then I had to take it apart and put it all BACK IN. It was THE WORST.

But, yay Amazon. They took that flaming piece of shit back and I got an even better one (from Overstock!).


@Tragically Ludicrous I agree! I just moved into my first unfurnished flat and spent many a happy weekend with my flatpacks. The photo I submitted for that Hairpin 'first photo on your phone' thing was the first thing I assembled, a chest of drawers; I sent it to my mum and she replied, 'I've honestly never been prouder of you.'


@Tragically Ludicrous I love it too! I just looked around my apartment and my IKEA items include a kitchen utility shelf, a desk, three bookshelves, a bed, and a chair.

I did finally give up on the shoddy dresser construction and got one from Crate & Barrel that is much more solid.


@Tragically Ludicrous I love putting IKEA stuff together! I once bought a dresser (the Malm 6-drawer) and it came WITHOUT DIRECTIONS. Instead of Googling it, I just cracked my knuckles and guessed at it. I put something on backwards once, but I managed to not ruin the whole thing, and got it done in a few hours without too much frustration. Whoever said they're like enormous legos was totally right.


You missed
1. Drink two bottles of wine with your friend in celebration of your new apartment before drunkenly attempting to put the shelf together

Is It a Hat?

@highfivesforall OH MAN I don't even need to click on the link to know what video that is. My co-worker played it over and over one day. She giggled hysterically EACH TIME.


@lora.bee : Oh my lord, girl, do yourself a favor and buy a decent set of hex drivers. Seriously, they're not expensive and they will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Actually, just tools in general. All of the tools. Go on, ask me about my new Makita cordless Li-Ion driver drill.

Deanna Destroi

@lora.bee I just lost my shit in my cubicle at work where everyone can hear me. I'm not sorry.


@collier I am a little turned on by your talk of tools. *high five* Every woman should have her very own power tools, and know how to use them!

Reginal T. Squirge

Any and all IKEA discussion always make me think of McNulty putting together his kids' bunk beds and getting drunk in the process... and then how sad it was when Kima did the same thing.


@Reginal T. Squirge "What kind of Scotch are you using?"


Ummm everyone knows it's all about the soft serve. It tastes like marshmallows and is only $1! You get to preemptively reward yourself for all your hardwork!

Once I got a white 8-drawer Hemnes, already completely assembled, from the discount section for only $100. It was a floor model and had two long, but not noticeable, scratches on the top. I still can't believe it was such a good deal. My mom thinks a baby pooped on it or something, but I loved my Grad School Poopy Dresser. I mean, I have a cat, so a lot of my stuff probably has poop on it anyway?


@iknowright I love that soft serve. And the as-is section. LOVE THEM.

Is It a Hat?

#10 Every. time.


@Is It a Hat? Mr Bebe and I fight very, very rarely -- I can count on one hand the number of times we've actually raised our voices at each other. And every single time we have raised our voices at each other, it was over some type of Ikea-related experience.

Is It a Hat?

@Bebe Same here. My boyfriend and I vowed to never speak of the horrible day I bought an elliptical machine and made him help me assemble it. The horror...


Sounds about right. Actually I am OK with the bookshelves now but when I had to put my futon together I did it backwards, sister laughed at me for 15 minutes.


@Megano! When my dad was setting up his home office (in my childhood bedroom of course), I helped by trying to put together the IKEA stacked filing cabinet. Only one of three levels came out backwards!


@Amphora I bought two identical bookcases at IKEA. Put together the first one flawlessly, and then did the second one. Got to the very end of the process and realized I had reversed the two side pieces, so the little holes for the shelf pegs were facing out, rather than inside, where the shelves actually, y'know, go. So I said fuck it and used my pretty red cordless drill (her name is Shelby) to drill through the holes from the outside in. It's not really noticeable, and I was tired and in no mood to disassemble that sucker.


@MsChilePepper Shelby is a great name for a power tool.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

I will eat your meatballs, IKEA. I will absolutely eat your meatballs. All of them.

fondue with cheddar

@Veronica Mars is smarter than me With a Sprite-lingonberry juice combo to wash them down.


Putting together my Ikea dresser was seriously one of the most miserable experiences of my life. I spent hours on it, and consulted extensively with my incredibly handy roommate, was nearly brought to tears ... and it STILL DOESN'T WORK. One of my drawers does not push in smoothly, and the covers to two others are prone to falling off at the slightest provocation. My jean drawer did this at least once a week until I got so fed up that I started hanging up my jeans, and now use that drawer for my pajamas, which are lighter and less numerous. Now the cover only falls off every other week! It's like magic!! Multiple attempts at supergluing the errant parts together, meanwhile, continue to be useless.

God I am getting so worked up just thinking about what a nightmare this dresser has been. I honestly don't think anything this year - or even any PERSON, perhaps excepting certain political figures - has made me as angry as this dresser has. I'm moving at the end of this month, and so help me god if it didn't violate tons of zoning laws I would enjoy nothing more than douse the thing with kerosene and laughing maniacally as it burns into nothingness. NEVER FUCKING AGAIN.

happy go lucky scamp

put together ikea furniture (including 2 wardrobes) because you've just bought your apartment and have to furnish it somehow on a very tight budget.
vow never to buy ikea again
the apartment floods with sewerage causing all your ikea furniture to be thrown out

realise that the insurance money can only stretch for ikea furniture
build a whole bedroom of ikea furniture and curse the old apartment plumbing the entire time

i will never build an ikea wardrobe every again

Jane Dough

I buy all my IKEA used on craigslist. Dirt cheap AND fully assembled!

fondue with cheddar

I put together a somewhat complicated IKEA media cabinet, and other than a couple nails that went in crooked it came out awesome. I was so proud of myself. It's lasted nearly a decade through five moves and is still alive!


I am writing this while lying flat on my back, like a flipped turtle, because of the back pain I just incurred while assembling my new bed frame.

Send help. And gin.

Julia duMais

IMPORTANT: narrate your progress in a Swedish Chef voice.


This reminds me, I need to go pick up a jar or two of lingonberry jam if I'm going to make my grandmother's casserole this weekend. It is not complete without lingonberry jam.

Well, it's not truly complete without fresh lingonberries lightly dusted with sugar (so they're still crisp and tart) but those don't freaking GROW HERE, so the jam is the next best thing.

Disco Sheets

@Scandyhoovian What is this delicious-sounding casserole you speak of??

Jolly Farton

@Scandyhoovian Please answer @Disco Sheets' question!!?!


@lilly pilgrim OKAY so I can't find where I scribbled down the recipe a billion years ago because I haven't used it in ages and it's kind of crazy hard to screw this up anyway. Here's a guesstimation:

Do these simultaneously:
Brown 1 pound ground beef, then season with salt, pepper, and marjoram
Boil down 1 shredded-up cabbage in chicken broth until tender
1 cup rice, cooked in chicken broth

(Optional: once the cabbage is cooked down, remove some of the broth and add just a little bit of dark corn syrup -- I skip this part, but grandma always did it, and my brother insists it's important "for color" so... do what you want)

Then combine everything and bake in the oven at 375 for around 30 minutes (the top should be crispy, but not burnt). Serve with dollops of lingonberry jam beside it that you can combine with the casserole.

If you are anything like my dear old grandmother, may she rest in peace, you'd wash it down with a glass of milk (or buttermilk) but, you know, we're not all elderly Finns here, so drink whatever you want with it. :)

It's very simple, very old-country. But it's delicious. My fiance was skeptical, because of the ENTIRE CABBAGE, but he ate it and loved it. His mother even said "You got him to eat CABBAGE!? HOW!?"

Go ahead and try it out! It's great for winters. The lingonberry jam is a MUST, though. So get yourself to an IKEA (or a Publix--sometimes Publix has lingonberry jams in the wintery months).

Jolly Farton

@Scandyhoovian Aaaaaa!! Thank you! Aaaah I want this riiiiight nooooow, but I guess I'll wait until I can get my hands on some lingonberry jam. And thanks of course to your grandma - I will make and eat this casserole in honor of her!

sudden but inevitable betrayal

One time I sold my IKEA bed frame to a very nice young woman. And I had sort of fudged the assembly and thrown away all the pieces I didn't "need"/wasn't using because I'd put it together so badly in the first place. So she came and picked up all the pieces and then I kept getting these calls - "hey, the directions say there's supposed to be a straight bar piece?" "ah...yeah. hm. I threw that away."

I ended up giving her half her money back because I felt so stupid/guilty.


I love Ikea.

However, I am also an emotional masochist who revels in stressful situations and the feeling of being just barely in control. Gathering all of the flat-pack boxes in the warehouse is my shining moment.

I also totally love putting it together, but that may be mostly because my boyfriend and I are like a well-oiled machine with that shit. We put on loud music, get out our special screwdrivers and hex wrenches, and go to fucking town.


Bought a dresser. Built it in 3 hours with 2 competent, intelligent friends. Realized we put the drawers in wrong. Reassembled. Drawers still wouldn't fully shut. Rationalized that this is the way it's supposed to look. Snapped at mother when she visits weeks later and comments on how the drawers won't fully close.


I am so excited about the ikea coming to Winnipeg, even reading all these tales of horror can only dampen my enthusiasm a little bit. Wal mart bookshelves are just SO BAD I refuse to believe ikea is worse.


On the whole I don't have much trouble assembling flat-pack furniture. However, at some point in the process I always, ALWAYS put in one piece backwards or upside down. And I never notice it until completing the next step, so I always have to undo two steps to fix the error.


Shopping with my mum in the 70´s, particularly at IKEA, totally traumatized my childhood and I refused to go there for years, until last summer, when my 92-year old mother-in-law wanted to go and needed assistance. I love her and I went. What a honey-trap those places are! We came home with all kinds of stuff that magically attached itself to us as we walked through. Never again.

The meatballs are ok, though.

honey cowl

Reading this got me SO EXCITED to go buy some IKEA shit. I WANT TO PUT SOME STUFF TOGETHER!


Hahahaha. This was so my boyfriend yesterday. It took him 3 tries, an hour and a lot of swearing to put one chair together. I think I'm going to be in charge of assembling the rest of the IKEA furniture we bought for our business, lol.


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