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On assembling an Ikea PAX wardrobe

We recently decided to install a pair of Ikea Pax wardrobes in our bedroom.

Reasons for the decision: well, they fitted into the niches on either side of the bathroom door remarkably closely, and we could get mirrored doors, just like the ones in our last house.  So we ordered on-line the set of parts we thought we needed (and accidentally twice as many shelves as we wanted, it was easy to miss that they came in pairs).  That was two 201cm x 100cm x 60cm PAX plus four doors, with four sets of hinges.  All good so far.

While we were waiting for the delivery, we found and watched a good video on YouTube about the assembly.  It was amusing, looked easy, and the video gave some good tips.

So here’s what we found that annoyed me (I can be easily annoyed).  First – the supplied diagram didn’t point out important alignment issues (and in some cases, neither did the video).  It also showed different configurations than we had ordered, which made checking the alignment of parts harder than it needed to be.

The video did make it clear that the initial assembly, consisting of two sides plus top and bottom and the two bottom boards, had almost no structural integrity; the Ikea instructions didn’t make that clear enough.  What gives the little rigidity that the structure possesses comes 90% from nailing in the backboard.  When the box flexes, as it will because it can’t stand upright unsupported, the dowels fixing the bottom boards will pull out and/or break.  I would suggest using some PVA glue to help hold it together, although we didn’t try that ourselves (too little, too late!).  At that point things may go south rather rapidly.

Don’t place any lateral pressure on the frame until the back is nailed in place; it must stay very close to a right-angle at all four corners all the time.  Fail to do that and dowels will snap, fittings will pull out and even fibreboard will break.

Another untried suggestion from me would be to add a few (four per wardrobe) right-angle braces to the middle of each corner.

Next point belongs to the door hinges.  First, the big half of the hinge attaches to the door, and the small half to the frame, as the video makes clear.  We managed to get the lesser half (on the frame) the wrong way around at first: the answer is that it has a small chevron pressed into the middle of the hinge part, and that chevron should point towards the door.  If the parts are correctly aligned, and you match up the door side of the hinge before the read side, the hinge will snap together with very little pressure.  If this isn’t clear, try to assemble a hinge before attaching it to the door.  There is a small lever at the back of the hinge (facing towards the rear of the wardrobe when in place) that will let you disassemble it easily.


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