The Beginner’s Guide to DIY Furniture Assembly


Putting together furniture you buy at the store may seem intimidating for a beginner, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Not only can you save money by opting for furniture that requires assembly, but you also get the satisfaction of creating something useful with your own two hands. With some basic tools, patience, and the following tips, you’ll be assembling bookshelves, desks, and more in no time as a first-time DIY furniture builder.

Gather Essential Tools

While some basic furniture comes with simple tools for assembly, most kits do not. Make sure you have access at least the following tools before starting:

  • Power drill with assortment of drill bits.
  • Flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers.
  • Tape measure and ruler.
  • Safety glasses and work gloves.

Carefully Review All Instructions

Before you do anything else, carefully read every page of the assembly manual, diagrams, warnings, tips, etc. Pay special attention to the hardware list, parts list, and any provided tools for the kit to familiarize yourself with what exactly is required. Having a good plan and overview goes a long way towards avoiding simple yet frustrating mistakes.

Step-By-Step Furniture Assembly Strategies

Unpack and Organize Components

Some furniture kits come with parts already grouped together in labeled bags, while others are completely disassembled. Regardless, your first step should be carefully unpacking every single component and grouping similar parts. Having an organized workspace makes finding the right component needed for each assembly step quick and easy. Pay close attention to included labels, markings, or stickers that identify unique pieces.

Attach Sides/Bases First

For almost all furniture, the basic “frame” parts like side panels, bottom panels, corner braces, etc. that create the overall exterior structure should be installed first before anything else. Trying to attach shelves, interior rails, or hardware without the core sides/structure together is unstable and difficult. The experts at SPAX say you should use the right L-brackets, cross supports, and flat-head screws to join the primary side/base pieces into a box shape first.

Add Shelf Supports

Before simply trying to rest shelves themselves into the furniture, carefully examine the instructions/diagrams to install any shelf standards, supports, or interior guides first using further flat head screws. This creates defined level spaces for the shelves themselves to then drop into rather than needing to awkwardly hold shelves in place when trying to join.

Insert Shelf Boards

With shelf supports installed, now is the easiest time to drop full wood shelf boards into their allotted spaces. They should fit snuggly into shelf channels or lip rests. Use your level to double check shelf boards are evenly horizontal.

Attach Doors/Drawers

Pre-constructed doors come as ready to hang panels with pre-installed handles and hinges. Simply align hinge points to side panels and use included specialty screws to anchor doors in place so they swing freely without friction. Keep gaps even for the best alignment. Drawers are like shelves with built in fronts that slide into place on drawer glides or rails; adjust glides so drawers slide freely.

Complete Remaining Construction

Back/top panels, trim embellishments, and finishing touches come next with the main structure complete. Trim serves both aesthetic purposes but also helps conceal rough edges and seams. Complete any final reinforcement and tightening with bolts where needed so the furniture feels structurally sound. Sand and fill gaps if needed for safety and smoothness.


While the prospect assembling furniture sounds complex, have no fears as a beginner DIY builder. Arm yourself with the proper tools, adequate workspace, ample time, organized parts, and willingness to carefully follow provided instructions. Taking things slow with a methodical step-by-step approach will create sturdy long-lasting furniture customized to your space.

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