I’m a day late with this week’s post!

For this round, I thought of writing about building DIY furniture. This is one of my hobbies which can provide great satisfaction.

Mention DIY and furniture in the same line, and the first thing that comes to mind may well be Ikea! Not surprisingly, this Swedish furnishing outfit is so prominent in Singapore that people window shop there too, just like any other mall.

Well, I’m no exception. In fact, I like to browse Ikea’s wide selection of knock-down furniture to get a better idea of DIY “spare parts” that I could use when I need to build something bespoke.

So, let’s head out to Ikea, shall we?

Ikea, Here We Come…

Ikea has 2 outlets in Singapore: Alexandra and Tampines.

The one at Alexandra was their flagship store. Later, Ikea took up (I believe) the government’s scheme for co-location of store and logistics and thus set up a mega store at Tampines, alongside Courts and Giant.

Now, each outlet has their attraction. This is how I see it…

Ikea at Tampines

Ikea Tampines is huge and a great place to browse DIY furniture. Remember to bring your water bottle along and wear comfortable foot wear.

Even at the self-serve furniture area before payment, there’s plenty to look at given the huge factory-like space they operate in. Yes, you’d see actual assembled models of furniture while you go pick up their constituent parts!

Which is actually a very clever way of product promotion, as the customer is so close to exiting the store, yet isn’t spared the temptation to buy more products than originally planned.

The downside of going to Tampines is the lack of places for a decent meal. No doubt, Ikea’s in-house restaurant is ever so popular with local shoppers, but the novelty of meatballs and (sinful!) deep-fried chicken wings soon wears off.

Being in a “industrialized zone” (at Tampines Ave 10), the nearest makan place is just too far away!

Ikea at Alexandra

Alexandra offers a slightly different experience when it comes to visiting Ikea.

First, there’s plenty of food around. Right opposite, you can enjoy some food court meals at the basement of Anchor Point. A stone’s throw away is the well-known hawker centre at Alexandra Village.

And with the opening of Alexandra Central Mall next door to Ikea, you can even get a decent Japanese or Korean meal 🙂

Food places around Ikea at Alexandra

Of course, if you prefer, Ikea sells their snacks just outside the checkout area; and their famous restaurant is on the second level.

Back to shopping. Ikea at Alexandra lacks that space its cousin at Tampines has. Still, there are sufficient product displays to entertain just about any type of furnishing setup, showing off DIY furniture at their best in different settings.

The self-serve area at this flagship Ikea outlet seems to be shrinking. Right now, most product pieces need to be collected via their warehousing system, after payment is made.

What Kind of DIY Furniture Was I Going to Build This Time?

Anyways, for the recent visit, I decided to head down to Alexandra’s Ikea to find some DIY furniture inspiration.

My Ikea DIY furniture: a Besta cabinet built June 2017
Ikea Besta living room storage configurations guide

And How Much Did My DIY Furniture Cost?

All in, this rather tall DIY cabinet costs us S$386.70, including delivery charges. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Besta frame, 60 cm wide x 40 cm deep x 192 cm tall – S$90.00
  • Besta shelf, 56 cm wide x 36 cm deep; 2 pieces – S$20.00
  • Besta drawer frame, 60 cm wide x 40 cm deep x 15 cm tall; 2 pieces – S$50.00
  • Besta drawer frame, 60 cm wide x 40 cm deep x 25 cm tall – S$35.00
  • Besta soft-closing drawer runners; 2-piece set, 3 sets – S$30.00
  • Besta soft-closing hinge; 2-piece set, 2 sets – S$20.00
  • Lappviken door, 60 cm wide x 64 cm tall – S$20.00
  • Lappviken door, 60 cm wide x 38 cm tall – S$15.00
  • Lappviken drawer front, 60 cm wide x 26 cm tall; 2 pieces – S$20.00
  • Selsviken drawer front (gloss finish), 60 cm wide x 38 cm tall – S$30.00
  • Lansa door handle; 2-piece set, 2 sets – S$15.80.00
  • Bagganas door knob; 2-piece set – S$5.90.00
  • Delivery service* – S$35.00

*Ikea charges delivery based on number of articles. Make sure you know how many article pieces you are asking them to send. For S$35, the limit is 5 articles — the Besta frame with 2 doors and 3 drawer fronts (= 6 articles) exceed this!

Is This the Best I Can Do?

Hmm… that’s not cheap for DIY furniture, actually! It’s just one cabinet!!

Well, calling a carpenter in will definitely set us back even more moolah 🙁

Here’s another look at expenditure from a different perspective, based on what it costs to build each storage area.

My Ikea Besta DIY cabinet cost per storage

To save money, I brought the more manageable and lighter items home myself, including small parts like door hinges and knobs which will be counted as separate articles if delivered.

And put other bulky DIY furniture items I had bought — those that can’t fit in a standard taxi or even MPV are always a headache! — into my delivery order instead.

Note: Ikea does NOT consider those Besta display combinations you see in-store as single articles. You’d easily have to pay the max delivery charge of S$65 (for 11 articles and more) since each Besta frame is one article; each door or shelf is also one article; each drawer unit comprises 3 articles: drawer frame, runners and front panel; etc.

Tip: If you’ve already hit 11 bulky articles or more, go home empty-handed and get Ikea to deliver everything 🙂

DIY Problems I Encountered with My Besta Cabinet

You would think that DIY furniture, especially those designed by world-famous Ikea, would be problem-free. While putting together my ideal Besta cabinet, 2 issues were encountered.

One issue was known up-front: tall cabinets need to be secured to the wall to prevent toppling over.

Well, I didn’t have a wall which I could use, so I did it my way — I placed the cabinet side-by-side with my son’s Micke desk (also from Ikea).

Five sets of big bolts, washers and nuts did the trick for me to string these two pieces of furniture together to give the cabinet some sturdy support.

How Ikea Besta cabinet and Micke desk, all DIY furniture, support each other structurally

The other problem surfaced as I assembled the drawers.

Ikea Besta drawer won't close tight

With the drawer frame and attached drawer front unit placed on the drawer runners, the drawer wouldn’t shut tight.

And there was no soft-close action at all.

Initially, I thought I did the first drawer wrong. But after trying out the other 2 drawers,

I realized following the installation instructions didn’t result in properly closing drawers!

Searching the Internet for Besta drawer installation problems yielded nothing. Most solutions provided were talking about Ikea’s kitchen cabinet drawers or third-party furniture.

After some experimenting, I soon found a solution to this Besta drawer issue.

Ikea Besta Drawers Wouldn’t Shut Tight — How I Fixed This Problem

The following video shows how I fixed the “drawers won’t close” problem with Ikea’s Besta drawers.

Since I found nothing on the Web talking about this solution, I decided to document my findings and made a video to share with others, in case they face similar issues with Besta drawers.

Maybe I’d also find out why Ikea’s instructions failed for me, if someone comments to say they managed to install their drawers without issue.

DIY Furniture is Fun — You Should Try It!

There you go, a look at my experience of building a custom-config cabinet from the Besta series of Ikea. It is always fun to knock together DIY furniture that serves a purpose and is somewhat customized to fit your situation. You should try it some time if you haven’t already 🙂

While I’m not good at woodworking, I find that Ikea provides some ready building blocks which could be mixed and matched to create bespoke solutions. I have made other pieces from them in the past, so I know enough to say it’s possible. Perhaps I’ll share these earlier projects next time.

Doing DIY also requires knowing where to source needed parts like bolts and nuts; and wood pieces cut to size. I’d leave you with two contacts which I use and are quite popular with people doing similar work.

  • Poey Huat Hardware
    31 Kelantan Lane #01-20
    Singapore 200031
    Phone: 6294-8898
    Open: 8:30am – 5:30pm weekdays; shorter hours on Saturday
  • Ban Heng Long Trading
    11 Syed Alwi Road #01-07
    Teck Heng Long Industrial Building
    Singapore 207629
    Phone: 6392-3343
    Open: 8:30am – 5pm weekdays; not sure about Saturday and Sunday

Have fun building your DIY furniture!