My Tips for Assembling Pre-Fab Furniture Like a Pro

I don’t mean to brag but when it comes to assembling pre-fabricated furniture, I am a genius.

We’ve all got a talent, right? Mine just happens to be turning press board and hex screws into bookcases and TV consoles.

I thought I’d use today’s blog to offer a few of the tips of I’ve learned over years of perfecting my craft so the next time you need a computer desk, you can put it together with ease, or at least without injuring yourself.

1) Know your brands.

Some brands of prefab furniture include instructions that really suck.

You’ve probably seen the scenes on TV or in a movie. The character is trying to assemble a piece of furniture, usually a crib for maximum hilarity, and the instructions make no sense. Or they are in another language.

The situation is good for a chuckle on the show, but if you’re trying to assemble your own crib, it’s not so funny.

Having purchased pre-fab furniture since college, I’ve learned which brands to buy and which to avoid.

I always have good luck with Sauder and Walmart’s Hometrends. Their instructions make sense to me and the pieces usually fit together like they say they will.

Plus they often include extra hardware in case you put a shelf on backwards and strip the screw taking it back off. (Hey, I didn’t say I was perfect, just a genius.)

I’ve had less success with Kmart’s Mainstays and International Concepts. Their instructions tend to be of the “Insert Tab A into Slot B, making sure that Bolt C is facing north and your right eyebrow is touching Bracket D.”


I’m not suggesting you go out and buy one of each of the different brands. But just keep a mental list of the ones that work for you.

2) Don’t read the instructions.

Of course, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t read the instructions at all. Just not all at once.

Do you remember those trick tests they used to give in school once in a while? The ones where it says to read everything all the way through before starting your work and then makes you go through a whole bunch of silly things like drawing a circle and writing a list of numbers from one to fifty and the very last instruction is “don’t complete the previous ten items?”

I guess teachers use the test to educate kids to follow instructions which I never learned because I always fell for it.

But when it comes to assembling furniture, it’s better to not read everything through first.

It’s too overwhelming. And if you don’t have the pieces and parts laid out in front of you (see my next tip), they won’t make any sense.

What’s the point of getting frustrated before you start? You don’t need the big picture. Just go through the steps and complete them one by one.

3) Lay all the parts out before you begin.

It may take up a lot of space, but setting out all the pieces in alphabetical or numerical order before you start building saves a lot of stress later when you’re holding Board J and Board K together with one hand and your chin while reaching for Brace L with the other hand and find it still wrapped in plastic inside the box.

I like to use a muffin tin to sort out all the little screws, nuts and bolts too. (Actually, my favorite part of the process is sorting the hardware into a muffin tin. So I like to sort things. Is that a crime?)

Oh, and maybe this could go without saying, but don’t peel the little numbers or letters off the pieces until after the whole thing is assembled. Matching up the parts to the pictures in the instructions is bad enough with the labels, I can’t imagine attempting it without them.

4) Don’t bother attaching the furniture to the wall.

With tall bookcases and such, the company will often include and strip of webbing that you’re supposed to affix to the back of the case and then nail to the wall.

I think they just stick those in the box to avoid a lawsuit if the thing tips over.

Unless you plan to use your entertainment center as a jungle jim, don’t bother with the strap. It’s a hassle to install and makes moving the furniture out to clean in back of it a pain. (Assuming you clean in back of your furniture from time to time.)

Plus it’s ugly. Even if I can’t see it, I know it’s there ugly-ing up my wall.

Well, those are my tips for assembling cheap-ass furniture like a professional.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog post is for general information and humor purposes only. I make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability or suitability of this post. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In other words, following these tips will not guarantee your furniture will not fall apart or tip over and smoosh you. If it does, you can’t blame me.

2 thoughts on “My Tips for Assembling Pre-Fab Furniture Like a Pro

  1. Pingback: Whatcha listening to? | One Thousand Words Project

  2. Pingback: Finally turning my genuis into money. | One Thousand Words Project

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