Modern flat-pack furniture is great for ease of import and delivery, enabling manufacturers and retailers to keep costs down. But this also means that consumers often have to build furniture themselves, a task that many are not used to. Here are a few tips to take you through the process of building a children’s bed in a systematic way.
- Receiving delivery
- Check your parcels when they arrive. If they are damaged in any way, sign the delivery note as “damaged” or “box 1 damaged” etc. Always tell the delivery driver you are doing so. If for some reason you are unable to check the parcels, sign the delivery note as “unchecked”. This covers you and the retailer against damages by the delivery company, and ensures you can get any replacement parts swiftly.
- If the parcels are clearly so damaged that the bed will be unusable, you are perfectly within your rights to refuse delivery.
- Have the right tools
- Knife: For opening packaging.
- Hammer: Usually needed for attaching hard board backs to cupboards or drawers.
- Nail holder: I find it useful to have a small nail holder for aligning those short thin nails you often get in flat-pack furniture. It saves time and reduces the chance of bashing finger and thumbs. Annoyingly though I don’t know here to get hold of one; I got one free in some furniture once and it has served me well ever since, but I’ve never seen one for sale.
- Screwdriver: A multi-headed screwdriver with a range of heads is the best. Try to get hold of some allen key heads as well as normal flat and cross screwdriver heads.
- Hand held drill: This can be used in screwdriver mode to speed up the insertion of screws and bolts. It is best to have one with variable torque so you can set it to stop turning when it meets a certain level of resistance. This helps make sure you don’t over tighten bolts and risk damaging your bed.
- A few plastic boxes: Rarely considered as part of your DIY armory, but can make life so much easier. When you first open your plastic bags full of screws, bolts and dowels they are usually in a jumble – if you quickly separate them into separate plastic boxes you can easily count them and find the ones you’re looking for at any point.
It’s tempting to just dive in, find the first board or leg of the bed, and start pushing in dowels and screws. But you’re better off taking your time and checking a few things before you start.
- Take care when opening packaging. I would recommend trying to damage the boxes as little as possible in case you need to repackage the furniture for some reason. Also take care not to damage the furniture parts when using a knife.
- Count the boards and panels. Manufacturers have been known to make mistakes in packaging, although this is extremely rare these days. Identify the pieces on the instructions and place them in easy to reach positions out of the area where you will actually build your children’s bed.
- Check for damage. Even if the packaging doesn’t seem damaged it’s always worth checking each piece of wood. It can be a pain to have to wait for a replacement part, but it’s more of a pain to have a half-finished, unusable bed in your child’s room while you wait for that replacement.
- If you find damaged pieces, contact the shop or website where you bought it and explain the situation. They will usually order a spare part to get to you as soon as possible. In the mean time you may still be able to build the bed with the damaged part as long as it doesn’t affect the safety of the child.
- Separate and identify the screws and bolts. Most flat-pack furniture has a wide range of screws, bolts and other attachments that make building a bed easy. But it’s important to ensure you know which ones are which, and it speeds things up if you have them in separate tubs from the start. Some beds we deal with can have 2 types of screw that are only a few millimeters different in length, so it’s better to have them in their own tubs from the start.
- Move packaging out of the way. Once you’ve catalogued your bed parts you should be able to clear the room of packaging to give you plenty of space to work in. I would advise you hang on to the packaging, at least until the bed is finished, in case you need to repackage some parts for any reason. Additionally, the packaging can be of use if you’re building the bed in a room with a wooden floor. Lay the large pieces of cardboard out to protect the floor from scratches as you build.
When it comes to actually building the bed it should be fairly obvious. Most instructions these days are pretty clear. However, with some imported furniture you may find instructions hard to follow or poorly translated.
- Follow the instructions properly. This may seem obvious, but people do phone us to say they’ve got the wrong pieces, only to read the instructions again and find they had made an incorrect assumption about what to do next.
- Check you have the right screws at all times. Again, this seems obvious, but it can be frustrating to put 12 screws in, find you are four short but that there are sixteen of that other type of screw, and reaslize you were using the wrong ones to start with.
- Recruit help if necessary. Most builds for children’s beds can be done by one person. However there will be times when you need help to lift the bed upright or hold something in place while you screw it in. If in doubt, get someone to help. A dropped panel or bent bed leg can be a disaster.
- Don’t over-tighten screws. You can always tighten them later, but it’s hard to repair wood if you damage it.
And that’s it. I hope this helps from a practical point of view. It’s experience gained over a lot of bed builds and has served us well over the years.