Flat pack furniture dates to 1956 when Gillis Lundgren, an employee of IKEA, realised the best way to transport a table was to remove the legs and store them under the table top, according to The Mirror newspaper. Assembling a piece of flat pack furniture such as a kitchen cabinet is something that many people do at some point in their lives, and knowing the best way to tackle the challenge helps avoid any potential problems.
Designers of flat pack cabinets aim to produce units that everyone can assemble. However, that does not mean that people should start putting them together without first taking the proper safety precautions.
Read the instructions
Every item of a flat pack cabinet comes with an instruction leaflet or manual. Reading these instructions before assembling the unit is an important step that could prevent damage to the unit or injury to those people assembling it. Check the instructions to see whether assembly requires more than one person, which may be the case for large cabinets. Keep the instructions close during assembly, and consult them frequently.
Assemble in a safe location
Trying to assemble the cabinet while children and pets play nearby can prove dangerous; there is an increased risk of someone tripping or something being knocked over. Always assemble any type of furniture in a large, open space, away from hazards such as staircases, ideally in the same room where the furniture is intended for use. Ensure tools are located safely out of reach of children when not in use.
Some flat pack cabinets may include necessary tools, such as tubes of glue and small Allen keys; however, the assembler often must supply the tools. Commonly required tools for assembling cabinets include:
- Allen key
- Wood glue
- Measuring tape
- Electric drill
Carefully read the instructions included with the unit to determine which tools are necessary, and then gather them before beginning the assembly process. Lay out the tools in an organised manner, within easy reach.
Flat pack cabinets comprise large pieces, such as wooden panels, and many small nuts, bolts, pieces of dowelling, door handles, and drawer rails. Smaller items are usually bagged together. It is worth sorting them out before beginning the assembly process. Count the components, and cross-reference the instructions to ensure there are no missing or damaged pieces. Use a screw tidy, or some sealable bags, to keep the small components safe until needed, and contact the supplier if anything is missing.
Assemble the cabinet
Assembling a flat pack cabinet is straightforward and involves no technical skill or specialist training. Following the instructions carefully reduces the risk of anything going wrong.
Arrange the wooden panels
Lay out the wooden panels so they are roughly in position and within easy reach. Laying them on pieces of the packaging helps avoid scratches. Carefully check the position of pre-drilled holes on each panel, as several pieces that look the same may actually be mirror images for the left and right side of the cabinet.
Build the cabinet
The instructions contain the specific process for construction. Most cabinets feature a basic box shape, assembled with locking cam studs that fit into locking cams. These cams tighten with a screwdriver, pulling together to hold the wooden panels in place. Wooden dowels and glue help reinforce the structure.
Fit the handles
Most holes for locking cams, bolts, and screws are pre-drilled for easy assembly. However, on some cabinets, it may be necessary to drill some holes for the handles. Determine the required location for the handle, mark the position with a pencil, and then drill some pilot holes with an electric drill. Position the handle over the pilot holes, and then fit the screws, making sure the handle is on the front of the door with the screws feeding from the back.
How to buy flat pack cabinets on eBay
Many modern cabinets come in flat pack form, making them easy to transport and, therefore, easy to purchase from sellers on eBay. To find the flat pack cabinet you need for any room in your home, start by entering a search criterion in the search field available on any eBay page. Enter a brand and product type, such as "IKEA kitchen cabinet", to get a comprehensive list of relevant items, and then use the filters to refine the results based on other criteria such as price, closing time, and condition. It is also possible to organise the results by best match or price for easier browsing.