Weird Furniture Phenomenon: Please Explain
July 17, 2015 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Hi MeFites, I have a furniture puzzle for you to solve. Riddle me this…

A few weeks ago, I bought a second-hand dresser from a girl who was moving out from her apartment on the other side of my urban neighborhood. The piece was originally from Ikea, but she’d painted it and replaced the handles for a unique look.

I loved it on sight, and bought it.

On moving day, I had a friend help me move it from the seller’s second-floor walk-up to my own. With the additional assistance of Uber and my male roommates, I installed the dresser in my room, where it worked and looked great. My sweaters and scarves had never been so happy.
… Until late last night, when I decided to rearrange the furniture in my tiny room, and shifted this dresser five feet across to the other wall.

As I reached to pull out a pair of cozy socks (a mid-summer quirk, I know), I realized that the drawers were no longer fitting and sliding as they had earlier that day. They stuck in the gliders at crooked angles, and the bottoms were dropping out. The canine handles that I’d so adored unscrewed to hang at 120-degree angle.

Five feet later, my dream dresser is now, basically, a mess.

What? Why? How did this happen? How can I fix it?

Help, pls, if you would. Thank you!
posted by shelle to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ikea furniture is (mostly) disposable. The drawer bases and backs are very light hardboard, and shifting the piece can make them come out of their grooves or come unstuck. If I'm think uncharitably, the seller knew this, lightly glued everything in place, gave it a snazzy paint job – and summer's humidity undid it all in a couple of weeks.
posted by scruss at 12:58 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Two thoughts:

if you moved it yourself, you may have pulled on it in a one-sided way so that it wobbled around and everything is now at an angle to where it should be. If that's the case, try going in and tightening all the screws - many have probably worked loose.

Is your floor crooked? Try rolling a marble - does it roll quickly to one side of the room? If so, you might need shims to equalize the legs of the dresser. An uneven floor could put pressure on the parts of the dresser, causing things to pull against each other and loosen.

Also, a third thought: is it a lot hotter where you live than where the dresser was before, or are you in a heat wave? I bet there's glued parts on there and they're loosening, if so. Also, it's possible that the wood-like parts are swelling and sticking. The swelling/sticking can't really be fixed, but if the drawers are glued together and they're loosening, you can reglue them, clamping them while they dry.

You can probably reassemble the dresser to be far more sturdy than it was originally.
posted by Frowner at 12:58 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have seen similar effects from pushing an IKEA dresser across the room. Lifting it, moving it, and placing it back down again seems to keep all the right angles aligned.

But when pushing, unless you are applying even pressure at the top and bottom of the unit, the bottoms of the legs don't move as fast, and the whole thing tilts. (Picture a 3D parallelogram.)

As for how to fix: the limiting factor here is that it's IKEA and it just doesn't travel well. But you could try tightening any joins. Or maybe even pick it up and put it back down again to see if that makes things line up again.
posted by cranberrymonger at 1:00 PM on July 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

For this to answer in a precise manner, one would need
1) the name of said dresser (in order to find an assembly manual)
2) pics of the "mess" (in oder to AskmeAnswerme the thing together again)

Apart from that, perhaps the five-feet-shifting undid some basic joint (or call it, rather, screw-up) and so the distance between the drawers and their sliders became too wide, hence the falling-out-of-bottoms.
So basically, I'd look at the über-structure of the thing, and whether there are some gaps or shifted angles that aren't supposed to be there.
posted by Namlit at 1:01 PM on July 17, 2015

bad feng shui? Either that or you skewed it. but that doesn't explain the handles.
posted by Gungho at 1:10 PM on July 17, 2015

Yeah, uneven forces on one side (coupled with environmental factors like humidity, or janky floors) have pulled somethings out of true. Chances are though, they are fixable.

First, you want to pull the drawers all the way out (empty them first). For the ones that have the bottoms falling out, if you are lucky, it's just that the cheap plywood board that makes up the bottom has popped out of its grooves. You can fix this by realigning it in the grooves and then tightening up the corner joins. If you are unlucky, the bottom is warped or even cracked. You might have to go and try to find a replacement board at home depot or the like and ask really nicely if they can cut it down to size for you.

Now, with all of the drawers out, try to make sure that the frame itself is all at 90 degrees. You'll probably have to tighten some more screws. One important question is whether the back (which is probably cheap plywood again) is nailed on. If not (and I'll admit, I've been lazy about putting together ikea furniture before and skipped this step) the whole thing is going to be missing a lot of essential stability. If the back is open, look into getting a 2x4 or a few pieces of trim that you can nail in place to hold the thing up.

Now, put your drawers back in, check that the glides are level and things work right. Replace handles as need be.

(source: I've put together a lot of ikea in my time)
posted by sparklemotion at 1:12 PM on July 17, 2015 [9 favorites]

Make sure to check that whatever thinnish woody cardboard that makes up the back of the dresser is anchored into place. I've found that without that, the dressers basically have no vertical... integrity, I guess? When my friend moved, her drawers actually wouldn't all even fit til we turned it around and got out the staple gun and really anchored the back panel again. It's a temporary fix because yes, IKEA cheap, but it can help. Between this and sparklemotion's drawer lesson, I think you may have your dresser back. If you move it again, put it on something and slide it, or take the drawers out and move the dresser itself separately.
posted by lemniskate at 2:29 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, all, for the responses!

This is an IKEA Hemnes dresser.

I took sparklemotion's advice and emptied/pulled out the drawers: I was able to salvage the top drawer--the bottom was falling out-- by pushing the plywood back into place and tightening the screws for the gliders. Win!

I think I've found the culprit for the other two-- like you guys suggested, the supporting beams had loosened themselves out of place, ruining the 90-degree angle. This is proving trickier to handle, and I haven't resolved it yet.

I've fiddled around with it enough for one evening, but I'll keep you guys posted. Thanks again!
posted by shelle at 8:00 PM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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