Tips for taking apart a flat pack cabin bed

Tips for taking apart a flat pack cabin bed.

Having now moved house twice (and switched around kids bedrooms a few times), I’ve done my fair share of flat pack cabin bed dismantling and re-assembly and having learnt from my mistakes, hope the following guide may give you some pointers when faced with taking apart your own children’s cabin bed.

The first thing to do is clear some floor space and pull the entire bed away from any walls – you’re going to need the access to both head/foot ends and the rear as well. A good screwdrivers gap away from the wall should suffice.

Next, remove the mattress and any drawers / cupboard doors from the main bed frame.

Cabin bed designs may vary so you’ll have to pay particular attention to how yours is constructed but generally, I start by unscrewing and removing the front ‘bed edge’ – the cut out ‘plank’ if you like, over which the child gets into the bed. It usually slides in between the two main side pieces (which also usually form the ‘legs’ of the bed).

Next, if it’s another ‘plank’ across the back of the bed, remove that in a similar way.

Now you’ll need to remove the boards that form the base for the mattress – this is usually two or three ‘planks’ of unfinished chip-board and there are usually numerous screws as they pass through the mattress supports into the various cupboard and drawer frames / vertical pieces underneath. Screws usually also enter from the foot/head ends as well. Aren’t you glad you moved the cabin bed away from the wall before you started unscrewing it now?

Lift this out of the way and you should find that you’ve now got a bed frame that can be ‘split’ into two halves (foot and head halves).

Now it may be that this is enough to move the cabin bed around – maybe even get it through a doorway.

If it isn’t, then you should be able to remove the two big side panels (which form the ends and ‘legs’ of the bed) by removing all the screws which only go through and support the internal shelves and supports.

With these two large panels removed, you’ll be left with smaller ‘built’ pieces which should be light enough to carry and fit through a doorway.

It’s not usually necessary to completely dismantle the entire bed (unless you’re moving the cabin bed by car, in which case you may need to return it to it’s flat-pack status.

Re-assembly of the cabin bed is the reverse of how you took it apart.

TIP: As most mobile phones have cameras etc, take plenty of pictures of the assembly before and during the taking apart – they’re immensely helpful when you come to put the bed back together – especially if there’s a duration of some time.

My other life-saver is the ever present margarine tub (with a tight fitting lid) to put all the fittings and screws in as you take the bed apart.

Problems you may encounter:
Wooden dowels.
You may find the wooden dowels used in the assembly have been glued, usually with a wood glue. I’ve tried gently tapping apart with a large flat bladed screwdriver in the joint I’m trying to separate (take care if it’s a panel face that can be seen when constructions complete) and a small hammer. Failing that, a gentle ‘rocking’ of the joint and if all else fails, then you may have to consider sawing through the dowel. Be warned though that doing this will leave the structure a little weaker when you put it back together.

If dowels snap when pulling apart, then a spot of wood glue when putting the cabin bed back together usually makes things a little stronger.

Screws won’t tighten up.
A combination of over-tightening or repeated dismantling and assembly can leave screw holes well used. I’ve used a matchstick (with the live end snapped off or a spent match with the charred bit removed) inserted in the hole and this usually ‘packs out’ the hole enough to achieve a tight fit. Use two matchsticks if needed – one either side of the hole.

Plastic screw head covers missing.
Yes, they’re notorious for falling off and going up the hoover. Depending on the positioning of the bed, it may be possible to rob a few screw head covers from the end/s facing the wall for those bed edges that face into the room.
If the cabin beds for a younger child, I generally don’t fit them as they could be a choking hazard!

Holes don’t line up when you come to re-assemble the Cabin Bed.
This is usually a case of the bed being out of square – a gentle nudge with your foot or leg against one of the edges should bring it inline. Generally, I don’t tighten screws completely until the constructions complete as leaving them a few turns off of tight gives you a degree of flexibility to line things up. Be wary when taking apart that you don’t ‘over-stress’ joints by moving the bed out of square.

Don’t forget – if you don’t need the bed anymore, then consider donating it to a furniture ‘charity’ who’ll usually collect large items and pass them onto other families in need. If the beds beyond use, then most local refuse sites have a recycling point for chipboard and other woods etc.

Tips for taking apart a flat pack furniture cabin bed – a guest post by Jonathan.

photo credit: ian hughes

Flat pack furniture – a few tips for perfect putting together

Assembling flat-pack furniture – its man’s true favourite sport and I’ve noticed recently how more and more flat pack furniture seems to go together very easily indeed – far quicker than it used to.

Apart from the odd desk (which although small in size, had infinite parts and struts to its assembly), most pieces of flat pack furniture present little trouble to anyone with a few basic tools that’s able to follow a simple schematic.

But just because a piece of flat pack furniture is cheap, or doesn’t take long to assemble, doesn’t mean it can’t last a long time and give years of faithful service.

Here’s a few handy hints and tips to help you get the most from your new self-assembly furniture:

Before starting assembly:

Follow the instructions – Yes I know it’s obvious but when you see a blatant opportunity to get ahead and fit the feet or a handle etc and it’s not in the instructions then beware. I got caught out like this (a long time ago before I knew better) and fitted the feet of a wardrobe before I should have. The result, I’d covered up some important dowel holes. Luckily I hadn’t glued anything but it cost time all the same.

Protect the finished faces – It’s soul-destroying to complete a piece of furniture only to discover you’ve scratched a panel that shows outwards by leaning it on a screw or piece of whatever on the floor. A good tip is to use the cardboard box that the furniture came in, opened out of course. It should already be empty because you did check you’d got all the parts and inspected each piece for damage before you started assembly didn’t you?

Organise the fittings – Furniture assembly diagrams are getting better but there’s always going to be instances when you’re not sure if they’re referring to one screw or another etc. So I always get a few margarine tubs and sort out the fittings before I start. It sounds like you’re adding time but actually a few minutes spent sorting really speeds things up.

During assembly:

Wood Glue works wonders – If your not going to be taking the piece of furniture apart in the distant future, then a small tube of wood glue with a dab on each wooden dowel / dowel hole will work wonders for the long term stability of your furniture, when you’re assembling it. Be careful though to wipe any access off the face of furniture in accordance with the glue manufacturers instructions, straight away.

Make sure you’ve got the right piece – All those panels, they do look similar don’t they? A good tip is to compare the piece with the drawing / diagram even going so far as counting the holes. You’ll find that most instructions do give visual clues like showing which end is rebated or unfinished etc. Note the position of holes and blanks on the drawing (are they nearer to one edge than the other etc) and compare with the piece in front of you. Make sure finished edges all point in the same direction when assembled.

Parts left over isn’t always a tragedy – Granted you shouldn’t have any panels or struts left over but very often, you’ll find one or two extra fittings have been included. Double check each assembly stage before moving onto the next though. If necessary, count out all the fittings for that ‘stage’ and put them in a handy margarine tub or similar. That way you’ll know if you’ve missed any out. Don’t get caught out by the ‘fake piece’ which is really just a packing block and not included in the assembly / finished piece of furniture.

Pinning the backboards – Small nails and large hammers make for sore fingers. A craft hammer with a flat end makes a better option for tacking in panel nails etc. If you’re required to nail pins into middle pieces, a good tip is to mark the centre of the thickness/edge on the outside edge with a light pencil mark, so that when you lay the board on top, you can use a metal ruler to join the two marks up. There – you’ll have a perfectly centred line to follow when knocking the nails/pins home.

Finishing touches – Spend a few minutes getting doors to line up correctly by adjusting the multi adjustment hinges – it may be the whole piece of furniture just needs a foot adjusting to make it ‘square’. A wipe over with a soft cloth will remove any sawdust that stuck during transport.

Once assembly is complete:

Keep the tools – If your piece of furniture came with special allen keys or other tools, keep them and use them to periodically re-tighten the fittings.
This will reduce wear and tear caused by joints ‘rocking’ as the fittings work loose.

Uneven floors – If your piece of furniture is stood on an uneven floor, then use a small piece of folded card etc to level up furniture and stop it rocking. This will help avoid joints working loose and help safeguard against furniture toppling over.

Toppling risk – Especially for higher items like flat pack bookcases and wardrobes etc, most self-assembly units should come with a restraining strap or bracket which screws into the top/back of the furniture and the adjoining wall. Use the correct fixings for your type of wall. To help tall bookcases, I sometimes add a piece of folded card (from the packing box it came in is fine etc) under the front of each front leg to help the shelving ‘lean back’ against the wall, rather than leaning forward into the room.

Moving your furniture – It’s always best to assemble the piece of flat pack furniture in the room it’s going to be in. Some furniture can be extremely heavy when assembled so take care! Another very important tip is to always empty bookcases and wardrobes etc before you try moving them. Moving self assembled furniture with your contents still inside is a recipe for weakening joints or breaking panels and fittings. Oh and watch your feet too. Always wear strong footwear as you’ll know about it (and probably so will your casualty department) if you drop or set down a piece of flat pack furniture on you foot.

Recycling old flat-pack furniture:

Recycle – When a piece of furniture is no longer required or it’s simply broken, remember to recycle. Perfectly good furniture could be donated via a local charity that specialises in providing furniture for those suffering some hardship or perhaps victims of flooding etc where all belongings were lost. Do you need any shelving in your garage or shed? If a piece of flat pack furniture is broken (this includes kitchen units), then your local recycling waste centre will have special recycling skips for MDF and chipboard. Your local authority website will be able to give you the locations of recycling centres nearest to you. Some may even collect large items from your home.

There we are – a few tips that I hope will not only get a longer life from your beautiful new piece of self-assembly furniture, but will also help with the construction and eventual disposal of your flat pack furniture purchase.

Assembling Flat-Pack Furniture – 5 essential tips

I’ll bet there’s at least one piece of flat-pack furniture in your home. Perhaps a bookcase or the TV stand? What about wardrobes or drawers or even your kitchen table?

Flat-Pack furniture is so called because it comes with all the various pieces packed flat for you to assemble yourself at home. This saves on production costs (where the company would have to build the furniture themselves) and transportation costs from the factory to the shop.

The flat-pack ‘experience’ can also mean a few hours of cursing and hunting for elusive tools before finally presenting a piece of furniture that looks like it was caught in a hurricane. Should it really lean to one side like that?

No fear – help is at hand with our 5 essential tips to putting together your flat-pack furniture purchase.

As an aside, I think a lot of the shops that sell flat-pack don’t so themselves or the product justice. On many occasions when I’ve looked, it’s obvious that the display unit has been poorly put together. The whole unit very often ‘rocks’ or has movement in the joints – no glue used! And the hinges etc are often not adjusted for that perfect lining up. Don’t be put off though. A little care using our tips below could probably get you a job on the spot. Anyway – on with the tips!

1) Choose a large flat area for the construction – with enough room to move around all sides of the finished piece. If it’s large, making it in the room or at least on the floor of your house it’s intended for will save a lot of heavy lifting. Please check it will fit through the doorway.

2) Unpack carefully and check you’ve got all the bits before you start – easily done when you’re keen but a few minutes unpacking and checking you’ve got all the bits and they’re in good condition will save hours if the worst happens. Getting to the final piece to discover it’s missing or badly scratched – I’ve got the badge to prove I was there! It’s worth mentioning that you should also identify the correct screws and fixings with the instructions. There’s nothing worse than using the wrong screw for half the construction until you run out or finding out the screw you thought was J was actually K and has gone right through and out the other side of your piece of furniture.

Try counting the fittings and screws out as there is very often different amounts of two similar fittings so you’ll have help in identifying the right one.

3) Familiarise yourself with the instructions – It’s all very well going Gung-Ho and starting where you think best. It’s only later when you discover a vital screw hole is covered by another piece you fitted out of order earlier (got the badge for that one too!). The manufacturer knows there’s a certain order to completing the furniture – that’s why you get instructions in the first place.

4) Make all joints tight – sounds silly but you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget to tighten one joint or another. Use the special fitting supplied – most work on a screw in spindle with a ‘cam’ lock on the other end you twist to tighten. Very easy. Top Tip – if the construction uses wooden dowels, use a dab of wood glue in each hole (sometimes it’s supplied) for really solid joints. Be careful if you think you might need to dismantle the furniture in the future though and wipe any excess away with a damp cloth immediately (or see glue’s instructions).

5) Check for squareness of corners – with bookcases, it’s usually the back board, fixed using panel pins, that determines the final shape so be careful and work methodically – corner to corner, half way to half way etc.

Finally, keep any special tools that came with your furniture – you may need them to periodically re-tighten joints.

And a word on safety – if it’s a tall item, many manufacturers will include a strap or bracket to fix your new furniture to the wall so it can’t topple over. It’s very important that you use these straps and fixings to secure such items so that they don’t topple over and fall on someone or something.

Once when moving house, I’d left a perfectly stable bookcase standing against a wall (temporarily of course). There was a loud crash and we discovered one of the cats had tried to climb up the bookcase causing it to topple…. through a window so yes, (sigh) I have that badge too.

If you’re thinking of a flat-pack kitchen, then think very carefully indeed. Putting the cupboard carcasses together may be easy enough – it’s only when it comes to getting the doors to all line up, including the appliances and of course, working around uneven walls, floors and those ever-present bits of beam or wall that would challenge even NASA boffins, that you begin to realise it would have been easier and cheaper to get a professional kitchen fitting company in the first place.

The best place to start is by getting a quote, which you can do online without any salesman ever calling, by using KitchenQuoter.