Assemble a table in three minutes

The Straits Times' Natasha Ann Zachariah had a go at assembling two side tables, which uses Ikea's wedge dowel, a new joinery technique that doesn't require an Allen key or loose screws.
The Lisabo side table (above) uses the wedge dowel concept - threads are carved into the top part of the table leg, which is then slotted into the pre-cut hole in the underside of the table and tightened.
The Lisabo side table (above) uses the wedge dowel concept - threads are carved into the top part of the table leg, which is then slotted into the pre-cut hole in the underside of the table and tightened.PHOTO: IKEA SINGAPORE
The Lisabo side table uses the wedge dowel concept (above) - threads are carved into the top part of the table leg, which is then slotted into the pre-cut hole in the underside of the table and tightened.
The Lisabo side table uses the wedge dowel concept (above) - threads are carved into the top part of the table leg, which is then slotted into the pre-cut hole in the underside of the table and tightened.PHOTO: IKEA SINGAPORE

The wedge dowel, Ikea's joinery technique, lets users build furniture easily

Slot, push and lock.

In under three minutes, you can build Ikea's Lisabo side table without any need for an Allen key or loose screws.

The table uses a joinery technique called the wedge dowel.

Made from wood or plastic with milled grooves, a wedge dowel resembles a threaded screw.

With it, the furniture just clicks into place, spelling relief for home owners who love the Swedish furniture giant's pocket-friendly pieces, but find the self-assembly process a nightmare.

The latest range to incorporate it is the Eket series of modular storage containers, which is now available at Ikea Singapore stores.

In the last few weeks, the wedge dowel joinery has been in the spotlight online, after Ikea representatives spoke about the innovation in an interview and it was featured in other media outlets and design publications.

Ikea's range and supply manager Jesper Brodin told architecture, interior and design e-magazine Dezeen three weeks ago that the company is "into the implementation phase of making it possible for you to click your furniture together".

For the Lisabo table, threads are carved into the top part of the table leg, essentially making it a giant wedge dowel. You then slot the leg into the pre-cut hole in the underside of the table and secure it in place with a tightener.

The table is one of a few Ikea products to use the concept of a wedge dowel.

The fuss-free wedge dowel has been making its way into various Ikea products since it made its debut in 2013 in the Tromvik cabinets and drawers.

These were sold in Belgium and Poland.

Since then, the joinery has been used in other products such as the Regissor cabinets, Valje wall storage cubes and Lisabo table series.

Ikea says this joinery makes screws and tools unnecessary and reduces assembly time by 50 to 80 per cent.

The Straits Times had a go at assembling two side tables - the Lisabo table and the three-legged Svalsta Nesting Table that needs screws and an Allen key - to test out these claims (see video).

It was definitely easier and faster to assemble the Lisabo table.

Although the wedge dowel was developed by three engineers working in the Ikea prototype laboratory in Almhult, Sweden, it took a few years before the idea was worked into actual products.

New machines were needed and staff had to be trained.

There were designers who saw merit in the joinery system.

Design duo Knut and Marianne Hagberg created the Lisabo table series around the wedge dowel concept. Besides the side table, the line includes a desk and television console.

Last year, the siblings, who started working for Ikea in 1979, won a Red Dot Design Award for the Lisabo line.

The award is one of the most prestigious design accolades in the world and is awarded by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, one of the oldest and most highly reputed design institutions.

There are plans to introduce the wedge dowel in more products, though an Ikea spokesman who replied to The Straits Times could not give more details.

He says: "To simplify the assembly process is a long-term mission. Ikea continuously develops new solutions and improves existing ones."

In his interview with Dezeen, Mr Brodin said that even as Ikea pushes ahead with the wedge dowel concept, some furniture might still be assembled in the traditional manner.

He said: "There will probably still be some things you assemble, but maybe we can make that more fun and easy. But the big furniture products are going to be clicked together."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Assemble a table in three minutes'. Print Edition | Subscribe