12 Sex Tips I Learned While Building IKEA Furniture

Let me be clear — IKEA is definitely not a perfect metaphor for sex. For one thing, there are all these helpful floating hands pointing out the areas of interest. All of the parts come diagrammed and labeled. And you can only successfully build stuff if you keep it all straight.

But anything that’s associated with meatballs has got to be material worth mining for sex lessons, right? Besides, I heard, “Screw it in here,” so many times this week that I can no longer separate the two in my mind.

I’m no more a sexpert than I am a pro IKEA builder. (And it took three people multiple hours and a dessert break to build our dresser this week, so let’s just say I’m not a pro IKEA builder.)

I’m just a gal looking at some fine new furniture thinking, “Hey. This was not the furthest thing from sex.”

1. Ask first.

“Is it okay for me to lower the shelves onto the headboard?” “Not yet, my fingers are still there!” “Okay, let me know when you’re ready.” “Okay, all clear.”

2. Familiarize yourself with the tools at your disposal.

There are so. many. parts. We laid them all out, compared them to the diagram, and counted them up. It was helpful to know what we were working with before beginning intricate projects, like a bed or dresser.

3. Different furniture, different parts.

We started off the week building a dresser and finished it off building a headboard. While both of them used screws, dowels, and whatever you call those circular screw fasteners IKEA makes, we were using parts of all shapes, sizes, and materials. It was important not to assume they all worked the same or required the same tools. We’re still talking about furniture, right?

4. Allen wrenches are the worst.

This is not a sex metaphor. I just really hate Allen wrenches. Nobody said you had to love all the tools.

5. Confused? Check in!

We got in the habit of asking each other to check our work before making any final steps. The directions aren’t always clear, and some steps work better in theory than in practice. It was such a relief to reach out for help and receive guidance from someone going through the same struggle. For unresolved questions, there’s the IKEA help line. Probably don’t call IKEA for sex tips. Or do. I’ll bet they’re sick of explaining Malm dressers to helicopter parents moving their kids into college.

6. Not everything is a perfect fit.

Just ask the panels in our headboard or the the small drawers in our dresser. But just because something isn’t a perfect fit doesn’t mean it’s not a fit at all. If one screw is off, it doesn’t usually topple the whole piece. So long as it was close enough, we moved on in hopes of getting the next step right.

7. That said, if something isn’t working, take a step back.

At one point, we were totally inserting the drawers incorrectly, and if we had persisted, we probably would have damaged them. Just because you’re backing off for now doesn’t mean it’s never going to work. Hey, maybe that move would work super well on a different piece of furniture. Keep in in mind for later! (Or don’t. That’s fine, too.)

8. There’s so much uncharted territory.

I was working on this piece for the dresser for so long that I started to feel really comfortable with it. It was the sort of comfort you cling to while working on a large, daunting project. But then the instructions said “flip,” and the anxiety set in. I gave it a go anyway, because IKEA. Lo and behold, the other side provided new opportunities for screws, dowels, nuts, and bolts.

9. Breaks can be rewarding.

Especially if those breaks involve tiramisu and chocolate mousse.

10. Have it your way.

There’s a reason bookcases come with so many options for where to set your shelves. And those shelves can be set and reset over and over again! Ahh, the relief of not having to decide where you’d like your shelves for the rest of your life.

11. After all that work, suddenly the end is in sight.

I won’t lie, I really wanted to finish building the headboard. We were building for a few hours at the end of a long day, and it seemed like the final product would be the perfect reward for a tough week. At first, the work felt grueling, but I finally got in a groove and started appreciating the work itself. So when time came to set the final piece, it sort of took me by surprise. And then, all of a sudden, there it was — a headboard.

12. You won’t even notice the mistakes when you’re finished.

You see that dent I accidentally hammered into the wood? Nope, you don’t! Because we backed it up against the wall, and now no one can see it. All they can see is our gorgeous dresser. Sure, there are some gaps in the wood and there was that spare dowel we can’t account for, but we made a dresser! Next time we’ll go easier on the nails, and it will be an even better dresser.