11 Real Steps in Assembling Your Ikea Furniture (Poorly)

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IKEA. The affordable furniture solution. The grand Swedish superstore. The unstoppable, unrelenting megapower of interior design. IKEA, or “that weird table store where the meatballs come from” as it’s referred to by no one, is doing very very well for itself. It could have something to do with the fact that their designs are known for a pleasing modern sophistication and eco friendliness. Or it could be due to their careful and gradual global expansion and complex corporate model. Or, of course, the aforementioned meatballs. But it’s probably because they found a way to trick us all into selling us wood.

A tasteful Malm high bed with 4 box storage

IKEA has been around since 1943, and, as of today, they’re so successful that they alone account for 1% of the world’s total commercial wood consumption. In purely scientific terms, the metric for that is: entirely too much. IKEA’s total assets are worth nearly 50 billion dollars. That’s more than the GDP of Luxembourg. It’s more than the GDPs of Jamaica, Iceland, and Liberia combined. IKEA makes bookoo bucks, but still expects you to assemble everything yourself because, deal with it that’s why. Where else you gonna go? Walmart?

But not to worry. You’re handy. You’ve got this. And to help you on your journey toward self-assembled greatness, we’ve created this convenient how-to guide for any IKEA project!

Step 1: Dangerous Overconfidence

This isn’t so bad, you think to yourself with dangerous overconfidence, I’ve got this! You purchase a particularly trendy looking desk. Something in fire engine red, with metal legs, and some sort of wood that most likely has an exotic sounding name. Blackwood, you imagine, because it’s black. The box is heavy, but seems small and approachable enough. Desks aren’t that complicated. For the most part their sole function is to provide a self supported horizontal plane. All you have to do is throw it in the car, and wrongly believe that it’s going to be a sinch.

Step 2: Utter Dismay

How, in the name of the old gods and the new, did they manage to fit so much wood in a box? This is roughly 600% more wood than you ever believed could possibly fit anywhere let alone a box. And what’s with all these parts and pieces! How could a glass rod have anything to do with desk construction? Maybe there was some sort of mix up. Most of these components can’t possibly have anything to do with this desk. Best take a look at the instructions. That’ll clear things up.

Step 3: Fail to Understand the Instructions


Well that didn’t help. It might have if you pursued a degree in engineering. Or at the very least took a class in Swedish pictographs. As it stands you’ve done neither, so here you stand with confusion in your heart, and a hammer in your hand because surely something needs hammering.

Step 4: Start Hammering Stuff

“What’s the best way to eat a whale?” Asked Frank Underwood in the first episode of House of Cards. The answer: one bite at a time. Granted, Kevin Spacey’s character was plotting all manners of unspeakable, immoral mischief at the time, while you are merely constructing a place to charge your iMac, but it probably still applies. “The start of any great journey begins with a first step,” said George R.R. Martin probably, or maybe even Ghandi.

Pictured: George R.R. Martin probably

The point is, you might as well give it a go.

Step 5: Making Progress

As you start assembling things, your hero hammering actually starts yielding results. The  instructions even start making a degree of sense. You don’t have anything resembling a desk yet, but the pile of wood is getting smaller, screws are going into place, and you’re finally starting to feel hopeful. You never did figure out what that glass rod was for, and the function of some other random parts, but you can set them aside. You probably don’t need it. This is actually going pretty okay!

Step 6: Realizing That You Needed It

Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap! You absolutely needed that stuff!! And you needed it to do the thing before you did the other thing that you just did! Oh man. Okay. It’s going to be okay. Let’s just find it real fast.

Step 7: Failing to find it.

Obviously, you don’t find it.

Step 8: Making Due

Okay. A bit of a setback. But maybe you can push through. You’ll push through. The important thing is that it’s functional, right? It might not be the most pretty desk, but it’ll be a desk nonetheless. At the end of the day, that’s all you need. This’ll work out.

Step 9: Giving Up

This isn’t working at all. It’s impossible. No one could have accomplished this feat. It’s over. Sweden wins. Their box of wood has defeated you. There is no hope in the world, and everything is awful.


“And I never even got to take a fun before and after Instagram photo.”

Whatever. You never wanted a dumb desk anyway. The floor is just fine. You never want to see another desk in your entire life. At least there’s beer in the fridge.

Step 10: Second Wind

You will not be defeated by Sweden, IKEA, or their silly wood pile! It’s time to get back to work!

Put some stuff together! Assemble pieces! If they don’t quite fit, assemble harder! Make. Things. Happen!

It’s over. You’ve finally won. It’s a desk. You finally own a desk. It wobbles, a few screws are sticking out in places, but–gosh darn it–it’s a desk. An honest to goodness desk. And you know what they say about desks. The Declaration of Independence was signed on one. That’s right. You didn’t just build a desk. You built freedom.

Step 11: Find the Parts You Needed Before Now That it’s Too Late

Of course you do.