Moving a bookcase without breaking it or myself
April 29, 2011 9:39 PM   Subscribe

Anyone have experience moving an Ikea EXPEDIT bookcase?

I have an Ikea EXPEDIT bookcase (the largest version) that I'd like to move from my current apartment to a new apartment several states away. My plan is to disassemble it, put the pieces in a station wagon, and reassemble it upon arrival, as it's way too heavy to move intact. I've heard that a lot of Ikea furniture is sort of designed for one-stop use, and doesn't hold up too well after taken apart. For anyone who's tried to move an EXPEDIT, is this true for this particular piece? Were you able to reassemble it without trouble? Any tips for moving it, and do you think two people (one normal, one wimpy) can handle it? Thanks a lot.
posted by ms.codex to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have moved the Expedit entertainment center (which is the same size as the largest bookshelf) - disassembling it to move it.

I had no trouble with the reassembly, and it's as sturdy as ever.
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:45 PM on April 29, 2011

I haven't moved one, but I have put two together. The thick side and top pieces are HOLLOW, be very careful when disassembling it, ideally with two people so you can make sure all the pieces are supported at the section you're pulling off. You can easily wrench it and ruin it, and there are a lot of those square pieces. You want to slowly reverse the assembly, and frankly, I'd just move it assembled as long as I knew that I wouldn't hit anything on the way.
posted by rhizome at 9:46 PM on April 29, 2011

Take your time and it will be fine. I've found that the biggest danger with this sort of furniture is causing a fracture/rift/tear in the particle board space/time continuum. Because the stuff is like a big Sesame Street prop cookie. Once the particle-board starts giving in to the Cookie Monster like entropy then its game over.
posted by ian1977 at 9:49 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

I've reassembled one of those. Two people can handle it; one person can't. I got the thing secondhand, and some of the pieces were definitely slightly warped, which made reassembly a pain because there are so many parts and they have to be aligned just so. (I'm sure it didn't help that I worked on it with my then-girlfriend at a time when we were getting on each other's nerves a lot.) It held together well enough once it was back together, though we got rid of the thing a few months later when we broke up.

Come to think of it, that bookcase was kind of a metaphor for the whole relationship. Who knew?
posted by twirlip at 10:09 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

We've moved one, yes to disassembling/reassembling at destination. We actually had three in different sizes, and two went back together fine, and we had a corner chip quite badly on one. It might be worth padding the ends with towels or bubblewrap or something if they're going to be bouncing around in the moving van.

We also put them back together with two people and it's a pain, but doable. Make sure you have reward-beers in the fridge for when you finish. A third pair of hands is helpful, but you can totally do it with two.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 10:15 PM on April 29, 2011

I have moved one whole, did not disassemble so can't speak to that. Took two people to move it, being careful, but it came through the move completely fine, no damage at all. If you leave it assembled, be aware it's very tricky to get around tight corners on staircases.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:17 PM on April 29, 2011

I moved a large expedit a couple of times by myself (small but sturdy woman, here). It was fine, though tedious, to haul the individual pieces around once they were broken down. But like everyone says, the parts are pretty smooshy and start to deteriorate with more than one assembly/teardown—I had particular trouble with chipping at the corners and at the half-cuts for slotting them together. By the second move it was pretty sloppy; if I'd needed to do it again I would have needed to take some filler and glue to it to get it to be strong.

Tips for moving it—you can move it with two people, no problem. The cross shelves are surprisingly heavy, but two people can move several at a time. Put a blanket down on the truck bed, wrap it over the stacked shelves, and bungee it down so they don't go sliding and smashing themselves. Put all your pegs in a plastic baggie. Be gentle when pulling the pieces apart; they'll splinter and flake most unattractively at the joints if you're impatient.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:19 PM on April 29, 2011

Out of curiosity, how did you diassemblers proceed? What I remember about building the thing originally was that it was held together with very small (1/2"?) wooden dowels, which seemed like they were getting wedged in pretty securely. Did you take a hammer and pound the top shelf upwards...?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:20 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

As somebody who has disassembled and reassembled bookshelves (though not Ikea), please allow me to recommend you label all pieces with masking tape as you pull them apart.

You think it'll be obvious what fits where. Then you get to the other end and you're faced with twenty pieces of wood in four different sizes, and you're really glad you bothered marking 'top' and 'left front' and so on.
posted by Georgina at 10:24 PM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

Keep in mind that the Expedit line has no cross bracing and is highly prone to flexing from side to side which will enlarge (or destroy) the corner bolt holes and make it wobbly. I've moved a 5 x 5 unit twice now by disassembling it each time and it is holding up very well.
posted by Max Camber at 11:06 PM on April 29, 2011

I've disassembled, moved, and reassembled multiple large Expedit bookcases. Never had a problem. It's actually the only piece of Ikea furniture in which I find the reassembly to be intuitive.
posted by .kobayashi. at 1:45 AM on April 30, 2011

I've disassembled twice. I would recommend swinging by IKEA to pick up extra pegs...I ruined a lot of them in the process and if you're moving somewhere without an IKEA, it could be tough to get them. My store has a wall by the return desk with extra pieces to just about everything they make. I just took a handful of pegs from there.
posted by JannaK at 5:50 AM on April 30, 2011

I moved a 4x4 EXPEDIT by disassembly and reassembly quite recently with no trouble whatsoever, though I think I may have broken a peg or two.
posted by corvine at 6:04 AM on April 30, 2011

I've moved a 2x4 EXPEDIT twice with no issues, but I and the person who helped me are 6'4", 200+ pound guys.
posted by LionIndex at 9:05 AM on April 30, 2011

Forgot to mention that we left it assembled.
posted by LionIndex at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2011

While not expedit specifically, I have disassembled and moved and reassembled the same four pieces of ikea furniture three times now. A desk, two bookcases, and a nightstand. Just be careful when doing it that you don't splinter anything and you'll be fine.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:41 AM on April 30, 2011

LobsterMitten: Did you take a hammer and pound the top shelf upwards...?

This is almost exactly how I found out the top and side pieces were hollow.
posted by rhizome at 1:07 PM on April 30, 2011

Yeah, that's what I mean - I would think the hammer method would yield brokenness, but what's the alternative to the hammer?
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:47 PM on April 30, 2011

(I ask because I have an Expedit I didn't realize could be disassembled, and if it can be, maybe I can put it upstairs after all.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:47 PM on April 30, 2011

A rubber mallet ought to be able to take it apart without exposing the hollow. I imagine a claw hammer would excel at exposing the hollowness.
posted by chazlarson at 3:28 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I think we'll give this a try. Just to echo LobsterMitten's question-- for those of you who disassembled the Expedit without breaking it, how did you do it? Did you pound it apart with a rubber mallet?
posted by ms.codex at 5:40 PM on April 30, 2011

I disassembled my expedit (5x5) at Ikea (it was as is). Then twice more in two more moves (oy). It's still fine so far.

I didn't need a rubber mallet or anything! The allen key and my hands and that's it.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:00 PM on April 30, 2011

So, you used the allen wrench to take out the metal screws that hold the top and bottom on, and the interior shelves, you just pulled apart by hand with no tools?
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:56 PM on April 30, 2011

I've moved mine four times now, and apart from a few slightly chipped corners on the small vertical shelf dividers. IIRC, you may need a Phillips-head screwdriver. Have a small ziploc bag handy to throw all the screws and dowels in. Patience is needed, but is a lot more resilient than you'd expect from particle board that slides onto metal runners.

I recommend a rubber mallet for helping with separating the outside walling. To get out the metal runners s that hold the shelving in, I just use one of the other loosened metal runners to loosen them out. (I hope that makes sense).

I have both pulled apart the entire thing, but the last move we pulled all the shelving out and kept the outside frame in-tact and had two people to move it. Admittedly we had a moving truck that time, but boy did it cut down on nightmares to disassemble and reassemble.

Two people are needed for assemblage. Don't bother trying yourself!
posted by chronic sublime at 9:48 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

If a couple of the dowels get stuck, use pliers to yank them out and don't worry about shredding them. You can pick up a bag of identical dowels for a couple of bucks at any hardware store.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:25 AM on May 2, 2011

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