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A DIY guide to assembling flat-pack furniture


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

A DIY guide to assembling flat-pack furniture
Whether you are putting together a simple bookshelf, a small bathroom cabinet or a more complex piece of flat-pack furniture, such as a computer desk with a sliding shelf, follow these steps to success.

Step-by-step: How to assemble anything flatpack

Most flat-pack units consist of a series of panels that are fitted together to create a basic box. Extras, such as doors, shelves and internal fittings, are then added to this to complete the job. Always work in a logical order, following the instructions that came with the unit.

1. Unpacking the furniture

Unpack the kit and lay out all the components, including the assembly fittings and any other items of hardware such as hinges, handles and feet.
Lay the panels on a carpet, other soft surface or the box they were supplied in to minimise scratches.

2. Get all the parts together 

Identify all the parts, using the instructions, and check that you have the right number of fixings—there is usually a numbered checklist included with the instructions.
If any appear to be missing, look inside the packaging to see if any are loose inside. If you still cannot locate the missing pieces, return the complete unit to the store and ask for a replacement.

3. Find the base

Start with the base panel, adding any fixed feet first of all. Build tall units, such as bookshelves or wardrobes, on their backs to make the assembly manageable. If the unit has castors or wheels, fit these last or the unit will keep moving about as you try to assemble it.

4. Connecting side panels

  • Connect the first side panel to the base panel. The simplest units have pre-drilled holes through which you can drive screws supplied with the furniture.
  • Connect the second side panel to make a three-sided box. If the unit has a back panel, locate this in the grooves in the side panels and slide it into place. Then finish the box by fixing the top panel in position.

6. Cover discs

Many fixings come with cover discs that match the colour of the wood or veneer of the finished item. These make a tidy job of disguising the fixings once the furniture is complete.
They can be prised out of their holes if you need access to the fixings to dismantle the furniture.

7. Doors

Follow the instructions with the unit to add any doors. They will be hung on some form of spring-loaded hinges, and the fitting and fixing holes will all be pre-drilled in the doors and cabinet sides.
Fit the hinge body to the door and the mounting plate to the cabinet sides, then connect the two with the short machine screws and adjust them so they hang squarely.

8. Extras: shelving, handles etc

Add any shelves, door handles and other internal or external fittings. Double-check that all the assembly fittings are tight, and that you do not have any parts left over. Finally, fit wheels or castors if these are part of the kit.

Helpful tip 

Much flat-pack and self-assembly furniture comes with a hexagonal assembly key and every unit comes with a set of instructions. When you have finished putting the piece of furniture together, tape the key and instructions securely to the back, so that you will always have them handy if you ever have to move, dismantle or adjust your furniture.

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