Friday 28 July 2017

Tried and tested: Can you really put together Ikea's latest range without any tools?

Who needs allen keys? Ikea's latest range just clicks into place but only after you read the instructions, discovers our reporter

Shelf life: Gavin puts the bookcase together, but only after reading the instructions. Photo: Arthur Carron
Shelf life: Gavin puts the bookcase together, but only after reading the instructions. Photo: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Ryan Reynolds who posted a video online of his attempts to put a cot together

Gavin Caffrey

My dad is pretty handy. He studied woodwork and mechanical engineering, dismantled and reassembled racing minis, and built a 20ft x 30ft deck at the back of our house.

But, most impressive of all, he constructed a 4ft wooden model of a tall ship with sails and cannons protruding from all angles. It was his pride and joy… which I duly smashed when I was five years old after pole-vaulting over the couch to Elton John's 'Crocodile Rock' - naked (I was blessed he made those cannons small).

Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin assembling the bookcase

The closest I've gotten to matching that engineering feat is the odd Airfix model and some flat-pack furniture. The latter has the potential to drive even Bob the Builder to drink at times.

As Shaun Ryder so eloquently put it: "I f****** hate them."

The Happy Mondays singer was tasked with putting flat-pack furniture together during a challenge on I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here in 2010. The reward - a meat pie.

"You can have the f****** pie, I ain't even attempting it cause I'll just f****** throw it over there." He added: "A pie? If it had been beer I would still have f****** booted it in the river."

And that's saying something. Ryder ended up using the flat-pack pieces for a camp fire.

It's safe to say we've all felt his pain. The sight of the dreaded allen key and those cigarette-butt wooden prongs is enough to strike fear into Dermot Bannon.

Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how to put together a flat pack shelf

In fact, a survey in the UK found 44pc of adults there are unable to assemble flat-pack furniture, with three quarters happy to pay someone to build it for them.

And when you do take on the task at hand, everyone's quick to offer their two cents' worth - especially the wife: "Don't overscrew... wa wa!"

Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds highlighted the frustration that comes with putting an Ikea cot together when he posted a video of the process online, in which he calls up the customer helpline: "Besides a slow descent into alcoholism, I'm just really having trouble finding all the screws and the pieces that go with it."

It's something not lost on the people at Ikea who recently launched a new range, which they say simply 'clicks' together in about five minutes. No tools, metal fittings… or bouts of uncontrollable rage for that matter. Wham, bam, thank you, Malm.

As Ikea's range and supply manager, Jesper Brodin, said: "Ikea furniture typically contains quite a lot of fittings. We see some challenges in the time and interest in doing that. So we wondered what would happen if we took them out totally."

Brodin added: "People move a lot more now. There are more divorces so now if you get kicked out of your house in the morning, you can reassemble your table in the afternoon."

Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron
Gavin shows how easy it is to put together IKEA's new flatpack system. Pictures: Arthur Carron

Every cloud, Jesper, every cloud.

The new flat-pack system involves ribbed pegs called wedge dowels which slot into pre-drilled holes in the wood. It's not just builder-friendly - the innovation obviously has major implications for Ikea with regard to cutting down on resources.

Either way, it all sounded too good to be true. So we put it to the test.

My project: a small four-compartment cabinet from the EKET range. It looked like a five-minute job… just like Ikea predicted. Our photographer was poised: "Normally, people don't read the instructions and just dive into making these things," he yelped. "Then they're left with all sorts of spare bits and pieces at the end."

So I proceeded to read the manual and slotted the first two pieces together… like a glove. These new click-together pegs had the potential to turn Frank Spencer into Gaudi.

But I had trouble with the third panel. I felt the weight of the family's stellar DIY reputation pushing down heavily on my shoulders, my dad's broken tall-ship model capsizing rapidly off the coast of Bettystown.

The photographer had seen enough. Before I knew it, he'd assembled most of the frame and a shelf with not a glance at the instructions. Every peg click was like a thorn in my pride… until we got to the last panel. It wouldn't fit.

I held up the manual to point out where we… sorry… he'd potentially gone wrong, but normal lines of communication had been lost. We'd descended into a form of Neanderthalism, grunting at each other while banging pieces together with our fists that didn't quite fit.

Testosterone had taken hold. Sweat dripped while our armpits made fart noises. We were stumped. Surely, it was tea time. "Don't call me Shirley," he barked.

Finally, I made another attempt to reference the instructions and we agreed to regroup. If there's another big advantage to this new flat-pack system, it's the ability to dismantle a piece using a bit of force… without damaging the furniture. It's something the old prong-and-screw method struggled to withstand as fittings loosened.

A quick panel swap had us back on track and the rest was like Lego. Relieved, we were off to spear a wildebeest and make meatballs.

What took two bumbling idiots almost 20 minutes will undoubtedly take one competent person five. Just make sure to follow the instructions.

Gavin was attempting to assemble the light blue EKET cabinet with four compartments (Ikea, €45)

Irish Independent

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