This is a series of articles detailing the carefully curated collection of tools and supplies that I use as a professional furniture assembler.
Open any flat-pack furniture assembly manual and you’ll be confronted with one of the biggest lies ever told by a company to it’s customers: The “Tools You’ll Need” section. If everything goes perfectly, you might be able to compete the assembly using only those tools, but it won’t be fun, and it won’t be fast. If you’re going to be doing this for money, you’re going to need the right tools to make the job efficient and, if not enjoyable, at least not a complete pain. And if anything goes wrong, having the right tools can easily make the difference between a successful job, and an utter failure.
I’ve done hundreds of Task Rabbit jobs for flat-pack furniture assembly. I’ve put together everything from tables to trampolines. From manufacturers such as IKEA, Wayfair, Crate and Barrel, and Office Depot. I’m the kind of person that loves having the right tool or supply at the right time on a job so I’m constantly improving and restocking my “kit.” Every time I’m on a job and I realize that I need something, or even that it would be nice to have something, I make a note and later add it to the kit. On the other hand, I periodically go through my kit and remove items that I never use or that I rarely use and could do without. I carry this kit around with me everywhere, including up lots of stairs, so I try to keep it reasonably light.
I divide my kit into two major sections: The part I carry with me into every job, and the stuff that stays in the truck. And everything in both areas can be further classified as either tools, or consumables. Tools are things that (unless they wear out) do not get used up. You (try to) always leave a job site with all the tools you arrived with. Consumables are things that you use up while on a job. Trash bags, ziplock bags, anchor bolts, booties, cleaning sprays and rags, spare little parts, and screwdriver tips (because they do wear out). See my article on the Pozidriv bits.
The stuff I take with me onto a job consists of what I carry on my person, a tool box, and a milk case turned into a tool holder. The latter two are roughly equal weight so I can carry one in each arm fairly easily. If it looks like it will be a fair distance from the truck to the job site (these apartment megablocks can be huge), I will use an old luggage cart to carry the two kits. If I need to go up stairs at the end of the trip (often there will be stairs up to the apartment door), I can take the kits off of the cart and leave the cart outside. It’s old and rusty and, so far, nobody has taken it.
Many jobs do involve quite a distance between the truck and the job-site, and sometimes there are access control doors that I can’t get through without the client, so I try to not have to go out to the truck at all. It’s kind of my “emergency backup” gear. I complete most jobs without ever going back out to the truck until leaving. Since I use my truck for other things, I try to limit the stuff I keep in there too.
I find that having carefully selected tools and supplies, well organized, and right at hand makes the tasks go smoother and faster. And that puts joy in my heart and money in my pocket! I hope this information can help you achieve the same results.
Please check out the other articles in this Professional Flat-Pack Furniture Assembly Toolkit series:
- Milk-Crate Tools & Supplies
- Tool Box
- Items On My Person
- Truck Tools & Supplies