TikTok's Genius Hack Makes Assembling IKEA Furniture Quick And Easy

It won't surprise most people that assembling IKEA products can be challenging. While people putting together the most difficult IKEA furniture to build don't always complain about the fasteners, driving as many as 150 screws with a tiny, manually operated Allen wrench can be taxing. TikTok maker Nick Starrett (@nickscustomwoodworks) has an interesting tip for making Allen wrenches as quick and effective as possible by cutting them in half and chucking the longer piece into your drill. Allen wrenches (also known as Allen keys and hex keys) are small, usually L-shaped metal tools used to seat bolts that have hexagonal sockets in their heads. They're effective and cheap enough that companies can include them for free in their furniture kits, but they can be frustratingly slow and awkward to use. They are also small, and if you lose your only one in the middle of an assembly, your project might be stalled.

Starrett's idea allows you to drive in bolts and screws at the speed of your drill instead of the much slower speed of an Allen key. And this is not just about speed. The dual long and short legs of an Allen key are designed to both be used when driving in a bolt, which in practice is a lot like having to change tools mid-task. And many users report usability and ergonomic problems with hex keys. All of this is alleviated by using a drill instead. 

Make IKEA furniture easier with this hack

You can create a hex drill bit like Starrett's by removing the short part of the Allen key with an angle grinder, a hacksaw, a rotary tool like a classic Dremel, or an oscillating saw like a multitool Dremel. (Asked in the TikTok comments how to cut an Allen key in half, Starrett hilariously confesses, "With a grinder, then glue it back together and use scissors for the video.") This leaves you with a straight bit you can affix directly to your drill. To use it, set your drill's torque to a fairly low setting, which will help prevent accidentally cross-threading a socket or damaging your furniture by over-tightening the bolts. If you do happen to damage a fastener, you can get many spare IKEA parts for free. Some hex-head bolts are located in spaces too tight to use a drill and therefore require a hex key, meaning it's probably a good idea to be sure you have two of each size before you cut them in half.

If you're uncomfortable cutting hex keys in half, you can buy hex driver bits for your drill rather than modifying the Allen wrench that came with your furniture. The most common sizes used for assembling IKEA furniture are 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm. IKEA also sells a cordless screwdriver, complete with driver bits, for this purpose.