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LAP’s 12 Step Guide to Assembling Cheap Furniture

Knowing how to assemble cheap furniture is an important domestic skill that is often overlooked today.  It’s not as valuable as learning how to iron out the perfect pleat, or how to remove alcohol-enriched vomit stains from your microsuede, but it’s up there.

Please note that no matter what type of cheap furniture piece you decide to purchase, the assembly procedure will always require a minimum of 12 steps.  If you follow this how-to guide accurately, the procedure should end up being a complete pain in the ass.  That’s how you’ll know you did it right.

Estimated time to complete average assembly: 7 hours – 2 weeks.
Level of competency required: none – very little.


After you’ve made your purchase, begin the preassembly stage by lugging the piece of shit into your living room, making sure to damage any walls and/or casual bystanders within close proximity to your box.  Be sure to lift the piece with your back, not your legs.

Careful Lift With Legs Not Your Back

Inside, you will notice that the contents of your box have been carefully packaged by either a NASA engineer, or Jesus Christ, as they are the only two people capable of bending the laws of physics, making it possible to fit a sofa into a box the size of a microwave. 

Begin Assembly

We are now ready to begin assembly.  Please do not skip any steps.

Step 1:  

Remove all parts from box and pretend to take inventory.  Use fictional furniture jargon while pre-fitting parts, and comment on the hue and type of wood the furniture is made of.  Make reference to a distant family member or friend that is good at woodcrafting.   

Step 2:

Unfold the assembly diagram and run a pointed finger along part assembly map to indicate deep thought and concentration is taking place.  After studying diagram for 15 minutes, turn part assembly map over and begin reading English interpretation.  


Step 3:  

Determine how many beers will be required to complete assembly.  If your estimated required beer amount exceeds current stock, you will need to purchase more beer.  

Step 4:

A.)  Insert Steely Dan CD into player.
B.)  Hit ‘play’ button.  
C.)  Adjust volume to ‘ambient’ setting.

Sitting Room

Furniture assembly workshop seen in photo above.  Note:  no cheap furniture pieces are featured in this particular workshop photo, but the ambient lighting part was done correctly.

Step 5:

Locate packages containing screws, nuts, and bolts.  Do not use scissors while attempting to open the package, as this will only oversimplify the procedure.  To open package, firmly grasp both ends with clenched fists and violently rip apart.  You will need to lose at least one screw, nut, or bolt before continuing to the next step.  

Step 6:

A.)  Organize pieces on the floor from largest to smallest.  
B.)  Take picture of organized parts layout.
C.)  Post photo to Facebook along with caption.

Step 7:

Practice putting furniture piece together by assembling incorrectly.  During this step, accidentally break at least one piece found on the parts inventory list.  

Step 8:

A.)  Remove Steely Dan CD from disk player
B.)  Turn stereo to “off” mode.

Step 9:

Disassemble piece and organize parts again from smallest to largest.  If any parts were broken during the trial assembly step, fuck em.  Revise assembly diagram with black Sharpie pen taking into account the parts that will no longer be available for use.

Step 10:

Take a chips and salsa break.  

Step 11:

Begin assembling furniture piece again.  Note:  misplace Allen wrench minimum of three times while tightening fasteners during this step.  Do not overtighten fasteners.  Under-tightening fasteners will insure that furniture piece will remain unstable, thus requiring multiple future re-tightening procedures.  In the event that fasteners need retightening, return to this step.   

furniture assembly guide 2

Step 12:

When repackaging your item, use clear packaging tape.  Avoid duct tape, twine, or hot glue.  When asked by customer service return specialist the reason for returning the item, indicate that it was the incorrect hue.  Request money back and do not accept an in-store credit.  If an in-store credit is issued, use the credit to buy Advil and vodka.  If in-store credit is used to buy another piece of shit furniture, begin this tutorial again starting at preassembly stage.

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81 Comments on LAP’s 12 Step Guide to Assembling Cheap Furniture

  1. Reminds me of an Old Radio Commercials Bloopers: Guy is trying to assemble a toy and has a shit load of trouble. He says: “These toys are very educational – they teach children how to cuss!”


    • Haha, great visual. I keep picturing some clutz trying to set up a tent. Speaking of tents, I’m in one right now. It’s made of sheets and pillows.


  2. J.D. Gallagher // May 27, 2014 at 7:31 am //

    Reblogged this on J.D. Gallagher.


  3. Reblogged this on Chowderhead and commented:

    Having trouble assembling your cheap, piece of shit furniture? So am I.


  4. What’s the best tool to use when packing the pieces back into the box in Step 12: a hacksaw, an axe, or a wood-chipper?


  5. Ha! So true! My Dad brought home an entertainment center one day that required assembly. After many hours of grumbling (he seldom swore) and disassembly and reassembly, he finally got it together. One special thing about my Dad that needs to be noted is that he had excellent motor memory and once he had done anything once he could repeat it any number of times flawlessly. About two months later we were visiting his sister-in-law at Christmas and, lo and behold, she had received the exact same piece as a gift from her husband. Her husband was notoriously unhandy and Theresa asked my Dad, sort of wheedling, if he could assemble it. With 10 people (consuming copious amounts of alcohol) as an audience, he opened the package and proceeded to assemble the piece in 30 minutes without once looking at the instructions or making an error. No mention was made of his previous struggle. The audience got quieter and quieter and , when he was done, there was complete silence – a very rare condition for that crew. Each and every one no doubt sitting there feeling completely inadequate and awed. I never did rat him out as he basked in their stupefaction.


  6. I always seem to end up with leftover pieces.


  7. You manual says that if any parts were broken during the assembly, fuck ’em. Is there a diagram for this step?


  8. Yes to Step 10. You think it would help if I repeat Step 10 a few times?


    • I would repeat that step until you get it down correctly. Just make sure at some point you move on to step 11, otherwise your furniture piece may not get back to the store within the 30 day return policy timeframe.


  9. I have 1 step for furniture assembly.
    1. Ask my husband to do it.

    Or should I say, “had.” ??

    This worked well until I bought an office chair and step 1 said, “See how much of it you can do on your own.

    Instant !!!Anxiety Attack!!!

    I believe that in the history of furniture assembly, the parts and instructions were the best I’ve ever seen. “Seen being the operative word here.”. BIG LETTERS, short on words, long on large illustrations and there wasn’t a single part that coutd be mistaken for another. I was impressed once I stopped trying to put the arms of the chair on backwards. 🙂


    • Hey, if you put the arms on backwards, I’m impressed. That means that you made it to the assembly stage without breaking anything. Are you divorced? Am I being too up front with at question? I feel compelled to ask now.


  10. NotAPunkRocker // May 27, 2014 at 8:59 am //

    This is why that one place has meatballs and noodles, to keep you from remembering that you have to do work when you get home with your flat-pack boxes.


  11. Reblogged this on Just another girl on a motorbike and commented:
    God I miss Ikea


  12. If that is a picture of your living room, I am moving in, of course I will have to mention this to my husband first. The kids will do fine without us.


  13. meredithwyatt1990 // May 27, 2014 at 10:20 am //

    Very whimsical and funny. May I share this piece of genius?


  14. gingerfightback // May 27, 2014 at 10:54 am //

    Saw off a burglar with some flat pack furniture once.


  15. HAHAHA! This is amazing and spot-on. You forgot to include that moment where you fully Hulk out because the manufacturer only included Spanish instructions, but then you flip the giant page over and have moment of crushing humility in front of your dog.


    • Thank you, partner in Awkward(c) crime. Actually, I did cover that in step 2. You are not following the instructions, which means you’re doing it correctly.


  16. My problem is that when I have to repeat any step in the process, people look at me weird for saying it out loud over and over and over. “It’s in the direction, jerks!”


  17. step 10 is my far my favorite. i am a master of step 10.


  18. What if we (like most sane people) don’t own a Steely Dan CD? What then???


  19. Steps 3 and 10 are key! I thought this was J.D.’s post. My apologies! See, it was early. (J.D., I still think you’re hilarious). You are too, Chowda. And, if you can manage to assemble furniture, it always breaks and falls apart!


    • Amen, sister. We could probably (should) probably combine those steps and call it “step number let’s just fucking party instead.” And no need to apologize for spreading the LAP gospel. Good luck with your chair.


  20. This gave me an Ikea flashback, you dick. This is why I don’t buy that crap: the missing parts list in Japanese, Urdu, and Finnish. I choose to economize by drinking cheap beer.


  21. meredithwyatt1990 // May 27, 2014 at 3:07 pm //

    Reblogged this on Speak Through Your Heart and Your Mind Will Follow and commented:
    Very whimsical and funny. An entertaining read


  22. Been there. Now I just use “Allen.” He’s the “key” to the whole operation.


  23. Even if you rip open the screw baggie and lose a couple, you’ll still end up with 18 extra. No worries.


    • Hey, if it weren’t for those extra parts, junk drawer manufacturers would go out of business. It all works out in the end for everybody. Except the guy building the desk..


      • It fosters a strong economy. The junk drawer guy gives work to the person who makes liners for junk drawers and so on…and right, the guy who assembled the desk with 18 extra screws in hand will be asking, “what happens if I accidentally put one more paperclip in the holder? Should I, or not?”


  24. The last time I moved, the moving company had a rider in its contract, which I had to sign before they’d pick up even a sock, that they would not be responsible for damaging any IKEA furniture. Self-inflicted wounds must be standard for that stuff. Now I realize that their intact arrival was a minor miracle, hallelujah.

    Any time I find myself inside an IKEA, I phone a loved one to tell them where I am, in case I don’t make it out. I’ve seen people in there that I know… I KNOW… haven’t been outside in years. They live in the little “250 sq ft apartment” mockup. They must.


    • Herdthinner, what is the nickname that we gave you? I can’t remember right now and I was supposed to ‘note that’. And I can see how people could live inside of those little mock apartments. They are, um..quaint, I think you could call it..


      • Good God, I was given a nickname? If you asked me what shirt I’m wearing RIGHT NOW, I’d have to peek down through my fingers (Answer: I… I can’t tell! It’s upside down to me! I think there are dolphins on it?!? I hope it’s dolphins!).

        I’m looking through old posts that I think I replied to and haven’t found a(nother) nickname yet. But somebody in the church band wants to call me “Funky Sticks.” I think “Thud” would be more indicative of how well that I play.


        • Thud, did we just become best friends? The answer is yes, yes we did. What kinda kit do you play?

          P.S. we’re gonna have to do something about the wardrobe..


      • …for services I play the “other congregation that owns the kit but lets us use it, hooray” set. At home, because I don’t want my neighbors to kill me, I have a Roland 5-piece electronic set. (I sometimes play, uh, kinda late). To the untrained ear, it sounds like I’m hitting a bunch of paperback books! But put the headphones on…! and it sounds like I’m hitting hardcover books, baby. Well, okay, electronically reproduced snare, toms, etc.

        I have a big pile of aminal shirts, all right? Long ago I looked through all my lions, tigers, and bears, and realized that I should sprinkle in some seafood.

        Gahhh, sorry, I meant sea aminals. Swimmy things. Eat dolphins BAD!


  25. Addendum: Feel free to swear profusely under your breath. Personally, I think it adds ambience.


  26. As the person in this household who assembles this crap/lovely furniture, I would have to agree with most of these steps except the beer one. I find a good scotch on the rocks (or eight) does the trick for me.


  27. Brilliant. If it just assembled into a bottle of vodka at stage 2 instead we’d all be a happier species.


  28. About 20 years ago I assembled a CD rack that required simultaneously putting 15 dowels in 15 holes – the directions failed to tell me I’d need an octopus and a spider to assist with assembly. My new favorite challenges are the IKEA instructions which are wordless (to assure their march toward world bland furniture domination). So you must decipher pictograms of a creature who looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy gone to seed in order to assemble a bed with 1,500 different parts. Feel like an anthropologist untangling the artist intentions from the Lascaux cave paintings.


    • You may have a future in working for LAP. Keep it up, and a letter might be in the mail soon. It will be sealed with a button of wax with this symbol engraved in it: :-))

      Good luck with your rack, erm, your CD rack. I’m assuming you’re still working on it. It’s like putting together Legos. In hell!


  29. There’s ALWAYS time for chips and salsa. I like your style.

    “If any parts were broken during the trial assembly step, fuck em.” This was my favorite part.

    How’d you know what I do when I put furniture together?

    Sike (yes I just said sike), I just drink all the beer and watch Joe do it, while he loses all the things and yells “motherf*cker” multiple times.


    • Thank you, and I agree! That step takes the longest for sure. I think this is more common than people lead on. It almost always works like this for me anyways. Tell Joe to stop. Now tell him it’s time for chips and salsa. Hammer time \m/


  30. Hola old friend,
    Thought I’d stop by and see how you’re doing. I should have guessed you’d be building furniture being the domestic cool-ass dude you are (okay, I used a cuss word to impress you and to appear hip, but I think the use of ‘dude’ probably gives away my age).
    My dad busted a toe kicking the crap out of a desk he tried unsuccessfully building for me when I was a young lass. I swear the desk drawer was smiling.
    I hope you’re doing well – I know your blog is – onward and upward, Chowderhead!
    AnnMarie 🙂


    • Hey, compadre! I’m diggin the new frames, and I’m also glad that you’re turning into a potty-mouth for the sake of taking our budding friendship to the next level. It’s like we’re in sync, but not like, the boy band n sync. Fuck them.

      ….what was I talking about again?

      Oh yeah. I’m doing well, and hope is all is good in your hood. Keep the porch light on, and I’ll do the same, neighbor. Rock on till the next time, Ann. \m/


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