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Forum topic by ondablade posted 10-01-2009 11:34 PM 2815 views 1 time favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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105 posts in 3199 days

10-01-2009 11:34 PM

I know IKEA are in the US, but i’m not sure how many of you may be within rage of a store. I spent this evening scoping our local Dublin branch for cheap stuff i could possibly use to help fit out my workshop with some storage. Some thoughts:

The furniture (as in cabinets, shelves, drawer units etc) is probably not a great bet in this regard as it (with maybe a few exceptions) either is too flimsy (hardboard drawer bottoms etc) or gets quite expensive once you get into stuff that’s a bit more robust.

On the other hand there’s some nice lines in storage boxes – from several € each up to maybe €13 each for the larger ones. The following lines (if i can read my own writing) might be worth a look on their website:

Glis, Trofass (a system that slides plastic bins into slots in the inner sides of a cabinet) Skrin, Rigel (cheap wall hooks), Snack (birch ply boxes), Slugis, Broder, Pruta, Raritet, (plastic boxes) Samla, Sortera, Molger (finger jointed small wooden boxes), Fika, Trissa, Mackisand Bjuron. (more ply and finger jointed wood boxes)

Lots of plastic, finger jointed solid wood, galvanised steel and ply options there – in sizes ranging from the sort of things you might store router bits in to boxes to put power tools in to slide under a bench. Some have lid options, and some don’t.

I guess if you’re working just for fun then you might as well make your own boxes, but if you need to stay focused on paying work there may be some useful possibilities in there….

-- Late awakener....

21 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3713 days

#1 posted 07-04-2010 02:10 PM

How well does their stuff hold up in the shop (I’m assuming you’ve had a chance in the last 275 days to try some :-)

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View poopiekat's profile


4355 posts in 3735 days

#2 posted 07-04-2010 03:34 PM

I’m of the opinion that IKEA has simultaneously corrupted the buying habits of people who might otherwise have purchased something from an independent craftsman or studio…bringing those makers even closer to extinction, as if IKEA crap if the holy grail of home decor. Mark: They’re coming to Winnipeg, June 2011 Aren’t we lucky!! Boooo! I’ll have to stay on the prowl for good used furniture being sold or cast off as people around here populate their homes with scandinavian stuff of questionable quality, to the huzzahs of their shallow friends who all think IKEA is simply the greatest thing ever…

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3649 days

#3 posted 07-04-2010 04:22 PM

As you stated, some of their stuff isn’t really cheap once you start adding things together, but all in all, there are good options to be found. I’ll usually look around for hardware, lighting, and the likes. they have a few (very few) items that are really good, and stand up – mostly their birth finger jointed boxes/cabinets and plastic bins.

think creative, there are some accessories in the kitchen area that would be great for hanging stuff (tools, paper towels, etc). When I go in there, all I see is materials that can be used for whatever purpose I need, not necessarily kitchen stuff in the kitchen department, and bath stuff in the bath area.

As for IKEA driving out the local craftsman – you can argue that, but usually the local craftsman (usually) has different styles then IKEA. I see many places (homes) that uses both for different purposes. IKEA is not only about furniture, and they also enable more people to accessorize their homes with curtains, accents, and accessories otherwise being beyond their budget. If someone can’t afford a $200 chair and buys a $20 chair (of lesser quality) at IKEA, then in that case, IKEA is not driving anyone away from the local craftsman if that person wasn’t able to get to the craftsman to begin with, and if someone wants that $200 custom made chair – believe me – those people won’t go to IKEA to get the $20 alternative.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4087 days

#4 posted 07-04-2010 04:30 PM

My wife calls it Icky Furniture.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3668 days

#5 posted 07-04-2010 04:49 PM

I saw a program on IKEA just last night. Their main warehouse is 1/2 mile long with 750 isles, the isles are 23 stories high. Every shelf isle was full of boxed up furniture. People buy it, so they keep making it.

People don’t know what “real” is anymore. They don’t know what they don’t want to know.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3132 days

#6 posted 07-04-2010 05:34 PM

I spent 3 hours in Ikea yesterday, and cam home with 3 big boxes. For me, as a woodworker/cabinetmaker, I look at Ikea as a supplier of temporary furniture/ cabinets. While I’d like to build a houseful of high end furniture, right now I don’t have the time or money to do it. Imo, Ikea has very high quality stuff. Of course, quality varies with price (and the better stuff isn’t cheap), but dollar for dollar, their stuff is much better than any other knock down furniture. And I can buy stuff their for less than the cost of materials if I were building it myself.

Yesterday I got a 60”x60”x20” deep wardrobe/storage cabinet for $49, and a 30”x48” coffee table for $39. Both are temporary until I can replace them.

My take is that if someone wants custom built furniture, then they’ll find someone to build it for them. If they’re happy with Ikea products, then they weren’t going to spend 2-3 times more for custom built.

-- Gerry,

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2956 days

#7 posted 07-04-2010 05:43 PM

People don’t know what “real” is anymore. They don’t know what they don’t want to know.

So true. I am becoming more and more of the opinion that educating people is the biggest and most difficult task that craftsmen face these days.

View ondablade's profile


105 posts in 3199 days

#8 posted 07-04-2010 06:52 PM

Was wondering if that post would catch up with me! ;-) Joking actually – my view is much the same as when i posted. As well as installing the Lack 1500×1500 shelving unit in my workshop I’ve since done a bedroom wall in 400mm Billy bookcase units.

It works, and with no problems so far – but it’s not high end solid wood cabinetry. Any more than is a plastic storage bin. There are things to watch out for – the cheapest stuff is to my mind too flimsy, and even the slightly better can get into problems. e.g. chipboard shelves longer than about 400mm sag under even light weight. It’s unlikely to be lifetime stuff either. Even the best of it is not ‘front room’ stuff, nor suitable for very high wear situations.

That said i’ve a lot of regard for Ikea – there’s a certain honesty/integrity/no bullshit logic to it. You get a product that matches the price point, is manufactured to a consistently very high quality standard, and (unlike most products – woodworking equipment is really bad) is mostly what it says on the box. Back in the 80s for example i remember trying flat pack furniture and being forced to give up on it as a result of the very high rate of design and manufacturing defects – missing fasteners, misplaced dowel holes, wrong dimensions, design boobs etc.

I’d rather everything in my house was hand made solid wood/ply, but i can’t afford it. The biggest absence in Ikea stuff for me is ‘heart’ – it doesn’t have the vibe of old solid wood, of live materials.

Realistically though Ikea is not the problem for hand made furniture manufacturers – the problem is the relative rarity and hence high cost of wood in the modern over populated and very wasteful world. The other big factor is the enormous cost of labour, and consequent need for low cost manufacturing methods – how can it be otherwise when in the Western world 95%+ of the actual value what you earn is taken to pay for the non productive state apparatus and bank interest?

Put it this way. Figure out what your house cost to buy. Multiply it by five or so to figure out what you will repay on the mortgage. Deduct the purchase cost (less tax) of material from that. How many houses could you build and fit out ‘do it yourself’ for that – paying yourself at the daily rate you need to live (without paying tax on your income or purchases) with the years of labour that would pay for?

More to the point since so much of the value of houses has come to be speculative. How many days work would it be reasonable to spend on building and kitting out a family home? Multiple this by the above hourly rate to see how cheap and accessible property should actually be. Yet we routinely spend 1/4 to 1/2 and more of our income over 20 or 25 years to buy a house.

Errm. Sorry. This isn’t political (since all parties support this system of usury/enormous waste – with the bulk of our wealth going to non productive ends), but more a matter of common sense.

Bottom line – this probably is what it was like living in the declining years of the Roman empire – when the bureaucracy, banking and other parasitic interests had grown to the point where almost nobody was producing real wealth any more. (Western ‘civilisation’ is doomed unless people start to wake up to this sort of stuff)

When the vast majority of your income is taken in taxes, and in paying speculative prices for property that benefit almost nobody except the banks (most of us feel rich if our house is of high value, but in practice we very rarely cash in the asset, and are beggared for most of our lives paying mostly bank interest for it) then i’d just say be pleased that Ikea is around….



-- Late awakener....

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3061 days

#9 posted 07-04-2010 07:21 PM

Their products are targeted to young family, college students or single people.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2962 days

#10 posted 07-04-2010 07:50 PM

This thread reminds me of the time I sold restaurant equipment and supplies. Nursing homes would look at blenders. They would want the $20 one instead of the $75 one. It would always tickle me when they would come back and buy the $75 blender because the El Cheapo blender burned up in less than a week! Same goes with furniture, etc., you get what you pay for.
I also sold cabinetry. I have seen ads for IKEA and am not impressed with their styling.

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1381 posts in 4128 days

#11 posted 07-04-2010 09:40 PM

-- 温故知新

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#12 posted 07-04-2010 10:43 PM

Woodworkers tend to have very strong feelings (generally negative) about Ikea. Sometimes their distaste for it blinds them to the utility many things at Ikea can serve.

Their melamine kitchen cabinet boxes are a great way to get cabinet boxes in the shop. Definitely faster than making a plywood box for me (I don’t have a biscuit jointer and obtaining and moving plywood around the shop is a huge headache). I tend to use their boxes as skeletons for my shop stands/carts. Their kitchen hardware (e.g. drawers) is excellent quality Blum stuff. The drawers are metal with very sturdy melamine bottoms. All you have to do is slap on your own fronts (if you like a natural wood look) and you’ve got a great-looking custom set of drawers that will last forever. It all holds up very well in the shop as long as you aren’t getting literally flooded with water. Humidity from the clothes dryer etc. doesn’t do anything.

This part weekend I threw together a drill press cart with a $30 Ikea cabinet frame and $70 set of 4 drawers. Threw some casters and custom fronts on the drawers and the whole thing cost me just over $100 and barely 2 hours of my time. The plywood, hardwood, and hardware to do it all myself would have cost me a little less (about $70) but a TON more of my time. Yes, there’s a pleasure to making shop furniture, but I’ve got little time to woodwork as it is so I’d rather work on more important projects.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Ryan Brown's profile

Ryan Brown

72 posts in 3191 days

#13 posted 07-04-2010 11:04 PM

I don’t have much experience with anything other than this:

Super comfortable to sit in, and made from renewable resources. The bent lamination design is very strong; even a 230 pound guy like me can sit in it with no problems. It’s about 5 years old now and is as good as new. If I had the room, I’d buy another one.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem. Roanoke, VA

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2987 days

#14 posted 07-05-2010 12:54 AM

I have no problems with Ikea. In fact I kind of like them. Are they preventing me from purchasing a high quality, craftsman created piece of furniture? Not at all. I can’t afford more. I fully support saving up money to get some good, hand-made piece of furniture—and there are some items that are on my savings-list. In the meantime, I need something to sit on, something for my computer to sit on, etc.

They don’t sell themselves as heirloom quality furniture and I respect it. Their quality is fantastic for the price point, and they’re honest about it. I have encountered some other flat-pack companies (who need not be named, they’re not worth the time to verify spelling) who try and tell me that their furniture is heirloom quality, “fine furniture”, to “hand down to the next generation”. It’s all chunky mdf and osb with paper veneering. I like that Ikea’s attitude is much more along the lines of “Here is a $X bed. It is the best bed we could make for $X.”

Also, I know I am in the minority on this one pretty bad, but I actually really like the aesthetic. Perhaps it is a combination of being Scandinavian myself, and just generally modern – but I like the lines and colours. I’ve never really gotten excited about looking for hand-made furniture in the past because most of the historical styles are so far not my taste it is ridiculous. Why save up for something I don’t even find aesthetically appealing for my own decor? (This is turning into a rant over why I decided to become involved in furniture making.. I digress.)

Sure, since I have gotten involved in woodworking the idea of making it all myself has come up (constantly!). It’s still fairly expensive – if I’m going to make it, I’m going to make it to last a while. (And I’d like all of my furniture to not have to be pine.) And my skill set is not there yet.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View ondablade's profile


105 posts in 3199 days

#15 posted 07-05-2010 01:43 AM

I like Ikea’s style/contemporary design aesthetic too, and think that it’s one of the big strengths of their product. It’s not what you would put in your 200 year old period residence, but since when does ‘period’ amount to good design either?

Here’s another view on Ikea. Take something like the Billy bookcase modules i mentioned above. I’ve a decent sliding table panel saw and so on, but i’d really have to work at it to match their accuracy, precision and finish if i was to make DIY cases.

I would set out to do so if i was making quality stuff in solid wood and ply for myself or a customer, but then i’d be charging so much more money for it that the person buying is unlikely to go for Ikea. Put it another way – i can’t afford to do hand work for Ikea prices, and more to the point the person buying from Ikea generally can’t afford hand made stuff. To me they are pretty much entirely separate and different markets.

Also, why as a person just going commercial for whom time is money would i spend hours building utility shelving for a workshop when something acceptable is available off the shelf in a functional material for very moderate money?

A load of handmade tool cabinets etc would be very nice, but realistically they won’t add much. On the other hand i’ve bought the timber and am about to start building a 5in thick Roubo work bench in German beech for my shop. Because there’s nothing commercially available (except at an enormous price) that will do a job anything like it will. In that case the skimping of material you get with a commercial product becomes a very significant disadvantage…

There’s horses for courses.


PS Took a look at your website and like you work Lis. That Buddha works beautifully.

-- Late awakener....

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