How to take apart a couch
August 3, 2007 8:01 AM   Subscribe

How can I easily destroy my couch?

I've got an old Ikea couch in my apartment that was left my the previous owners. I live in a weird NYC building and apparently to get the couch into the apartment the movers had to remove the window and somehow pull it through that, even though it's 2 stories up.

I can't push it out the window and I'm moving, so can I easily pull apart the couch so I can throw it out? Are there any services that do this?
posted by MattS to Home & Garden (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it was left there by the previous owners, can't you leave it there too?
posted by amyms at 8:08 AM on August 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Use a Sawzall? You might be able to rent one locally, rather than purchase it for this one-time use.
posted by aramaic at 8:09 AM on August 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Could always just get an axe, I suppose.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:13 AM on August 3, 2007

If you want to cut it up, I'd recommend borrowing a Sawsall ( reciprocating saw). It will cut through a couch as if it were butter.

When you live in an apartment, its not that useful of a tool, so you might look into renting one or borrowing from a friend or a tool library.
posted by janell at 8:13 AM on August 3, 2007

The next occupant said she doesn't want it.
posted by MattS at 8:13 AM on August 3, 2007

A friend of mine dismantled his old couch with a hatchet. He said it was messy, but cathartic.

If you want a cleaner job, I'd follow aramaic's suggestion of a Sawzall.
posted by christinetheslp at 8:14 AM on August 3, 2007

I can promise you that since this is an Ikea couch, it should be a fairly trivial process. I had to take a sleeper-sofa from Ikea apart to get it home, and then put it back together again. They're surprisingly simple pieces of furniture.

Personally, I'd start by pulling off the upholstery any way you can - with a good knife, a screwdriver for the staples, and a pair of pliers/the sharp end of a claw hammer. Once you've got only the bare frame, it should be pretty clear how the separate pieces are held together. If they're bolted, go at it with the right size wrench and keep all the hardware. If they're nailed/riveted, refer back to the claw hammer, and go nuts.

Or yeah, a Sawzall, if you've got one, would be fast, cheap, and fun.
posted by god hates math at 8:14 AM on August 3, 2007

I destroyed a cheapish couch a couple of years ago. It was made entirely of heavy card, foam and thick fabric stapled to a timber frame. Once you get the fabric off it isn't too hard to take the rest apart with a stanley knife, hatchet, hammer and big screwdriver.
posted by bifter at 8:16 AM on August 3, 2007

Put it on craigslist before you destroy it (unless it is trashed). People on craigslist are very resourceful...
posted by Eringatang at 8:17 AM on August 3, 2007

Some housemates of mine sawed a (probably heavier-duty than Ikea) sofa in half with just a hacksaw. Not the easiest thing--we had to take turns because it was tough to do, but definitely doable, and probably even easier with a better saw.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:18 AM on August 3, 2007

Seventeen pound sledgehammer. I took apart a very heavy old couch for a friend in a similar situation. Took a while, but damn it was fun.
posted by notsnot at 8:21 AM on August 3, 2007

I agree with those who say axe. I had to take a couch apart to get it out of a dorm room my freshman year of college (no one could remember how we got it in there), and the dismantling process was by far the most fun I've ever had while moving. We proceeded to ignite the remains with a blowtorch, but this step is optional.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:27 AM on August 3, 2007

For my couch I just stood in the middle and kicked the arms off, flipped it on its back, stood on it and pushed the bottom off, but it was a exceptionally poorly constructed couch. A prybar ought the dismantle any Ikea problem kicking can't solve though.
posted by arruns at 8:27 AM on August 3, 2007

Don't do the sledgehammer. It would be loads of fun, but you don't want to damage the floor before you move out. That would suck to lose your security deposit because of this. Those things are heavy. I'd imagine you could probably do some damage even by accidentally placing it somewhere in your apartment.
posted by zackola at 8:30 AM on August 3, 2007

Oh god! Don't use an axe either! If it's from IKEA, I'd be really surprised if it wasn't held together in some fashion by hex nuts. Try removing some of the upholstery to see if you can find the joints.
posted by zackola at 8:32 AM on August 3, 2007

It's from IKEA? Everything I've ever gotten from there falls apart if I look askance at it. I'm guessing there are a total of eight cam bolts holding the whole thing together. You may need nothing more than a screwdriver.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:43 AM on August 3, 2007

Hand tools would generate a lot less mess (sawdust) than power tools.
posted by TedW at 8:46 AM on August 3, 2007

Remove the dust cloth on the bottom of the couch. It is the beige or black fabric which is just stapled to the bottom. Once you can look inside, you can see if there are any bolt or cams which you can easily undo. If the couch has legs, they probably just screw on and off. You'll end up with modular pieces which should easily go through the door. If this works, you can take the couch with you to your new place if you still want it.
posted by onhazier at 8:49 AM on August 3, 2007

If it isn't an IKEA assemble-it-yourself, I ditto the reciprocating saw/sawzall. Much quicker than handtools or sledges, and you can rent them at your local tool store for very little money. Home Despot, at least, will rent for 4 hour periods.
posted by bonehead at 8:56 AM on August 3, 2007

A no-tools method you might try first:

1. Remove couch legs, discard.
2. Lay on couch and kick off one side (wear boots and pants).
3. Turn around and kick off the other side.
4. Have someone sit on couch. You kick the back until it separates from the seat. If that doesn't work, have somone hold it in a V position and you jump in the middle, hitting each side of the V with your boots.
5. Discard pieces.
posted by probablysteve at 9:09 AM on August 3, 2007

I've used an axe and a pair of scissors to dismantle a 3 piece suite, it was simple and quick. Aim for the long wood bars with the axe, rather than at the joins, and it will come apart in no time.
posted by fire&wings at 9:10 AM on August 3, 2007

My IKEA couch required some assembly, if this is the case with yours it should be fairly easy to disassemble.

Otherwise, before you start hacking at your couch with an axe, you might try one other configuration for getting it out the door. Tip the couch forward at a 45 degree angle or so. Move it towards the doorway, outside corner of the arm first. Pivot the couch so that it is perpendicular to the doorway, adjusting the angle of foward lean of the couch for best fit. Move center part of couch through the door way. Pivot again to get the other arm out.

Maybe you tried that already. This is what I eventually did in a similar situation, and that solution was arrived at after a week or two of asking all visitors if they could figure out how to get the couch out.
posted by yohko at 9:16 AM on August 3, 2007

1. Remove couch legs, discard.

1 1/2. See if couch fits out the door now.
posted by yohko at 9:18 AM on August 3, 2007

Having destroyed, burned, cut up and generally dismantled my fair share of gigantic hand me down impossible to move furniture, I can tell you the method you choose will be linked to how you feel about the couch. If you really hate it, you can just stomp on it until it breaks apart, then pull it apart with your bare hands. This will make you feel alaot better, especially if your move is stressful. If you like the couch, cut it up in to nice neat little pieces with a saw or knock it apart with a small sledgehammer. Lastly, this is the best, post it on craigslist free to who ever can get it out of your apartment. This has solved many a pain in the ass couch moving problem for me.
posted by Phoenix42 at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2007

I'd be wary of any metal springs if you go at it with a sawzall.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:47 AM on August 3, 2007

I would just get a hammer and scissors/knife and go at it. My friend and I once destroyed a crappy giant old desk in my old apartment with a hammer. It took a bit of time but was fun.

This method also relieves a lot of stress.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 11:05 AM on August 3, 2007

my boyfriend used a chainsaw to destroy an old couch. The specter of my mother wants me to remind you to wear safety goggles if you decide to go this route.

But putting it up for "free" on craigslist seems much less messy. Make it someone else's problem.
posted by missmobtown at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2007

I advise against an axe. Friend of mine tried that and ended up having to give up half way through. That was a damn sturdy couch though.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:41 AM on August 3, 2007

Seriously, I agree with seeing if just removing the legs would work. That was the key to getting our sofa out of our apartment.
posted by tastybrains at 12:17 PM on August 3, 2007

I've destructively disassembled high quality but ancient couches using a sledge hammer. Eventually you just snip through the fabric when the back is broken. I'd imagine this would be really easy on Ikea stuff (no offence to Ikea - it's just not the same construction quality as a 1950's high end couch)
posted by substrate at 1:43 PM on August 3, 2007

1. Get two ex-heavyweight wrestlers who've really let themselves go
2. Put them on either side of the couch
3. Put a cheeseburger in the middle

And I'm sure that the hurf will durf.
posted by tehloki at 3:56 PM on August 3, 2007 is another excellent way to find people who will figure out SOME way of getting it out of there (if you don't find anyone on Craigslist).
posted by lorimer at 8:48 PM on August 3, 2007

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