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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Hey, Althouse Readers: This Is What IKEA Furniture Is Good For

(Editor’s Note: Apparently people are visiting here today from Althouse, because they’re talking about assembling shoddy IKEA tables and then looking for praise like when they used to tell mom they went boom boom in the toilet. Someone there thinks I’m the official table-maker of the Intertunnel. Damn straight I am. I explained what IKEA furniture is good for four years ago:)

It weighs 439 pounds.

To recap, I have a 350 Pound Doorstop In My Basement, and I’m damn near out of business until I replace it. Do you know how to move heavy things? I see all sorts of educated people that can’t fathom how people built the pyramids. They’ll believe aliens did it, but not regular people. When you become far removed from everyday things, you’ll believe anything but the truth. Construction workers don’t watch Mythbusters.

If I told you you had to move that 439 pound box down a flight of stairs, could you do it? Here’s what’s at your disposal: A thirteen year old boy, his mom, and whatever you have laying around. Easy. By the way; you’re in a hurry, because the item is made from cast iron, and it’s going to rain. And you can’t drop it — it’s precision machinery.

At the risk of sounding like Steve Martin or Charlie Rangel telling you the way to be a millionaire and not pay taxes is to “get a million dollars and then don’t pay your taxes,” I’m going to just wave my hand and tell you you’ve got to accept the shipment five miles away because your driveway is too long and skinny for the truck. Then you get the box into the back of your van using only a ramp.

Look, you’re going to have to understand the simple machines and be able to predict how much of a boost each can give your available manpower. For the benefit of people with advanced degrees that train you to be able to type into a little phone with your thumbs and not much else, the simple machines are:

  1. Pulley
  2. Lever
  3. Wedge
  4. Wheel and Axle
  5. Ramp (Inclined Plane)
  6. Screw

Some machines are instantly recognizable as what they are. Others need a little contemplation to recognize. A saw is basically a wedge, for instance. So is a nail.

We don’t need all those for this. We’re going to need the lever and the ramp. We’re going to be wallowing in friction, though. And gravity.

The very first thing, and most important, is making up your mind to do it. I’m serious. You need to determine if it’s possible, and then commit yourself to doing it. Otherwise you’re going to succumb to the spectre of one idea after another to quit and get more help and more equipment forevermore.

Everyone wants a wheel, right away. It’s the last thing you want, in many cases. The wheel and axle part of our story was the semi truck that delivered it. Gravity and weight will get someone hurt, especially if it’s skating all over the place on wheels. We walked the box up the ramp. On wheels, we could never have pushed it up.

I’m going to have to pick it up myself. I’m strong enough to beat you up, but I can’t lift 439 pounds — so I’m going to have to be smarter than you, too. You can pick up anything with a lever, if the fulcrum is placed correctly and the lever arm is long enough. Let’s make a sled, and combine the ramp and the lever.

We’re going to keep the item from sliding down the sled with a strongback. Putting structural members perpedicular to one another increases their resultant capabilities.

Speaking of strong backs, a thirteen year old’s is strong enough:

We’ll capture the sled on an inclined plane, and use friction to keep it from ending up in China, and me, flat, in geostationary orbit above China. Remember, wheels are bad.

We’re going to need a platform at the top to sit the box on. Let’s make it from… heh… IKEA furniture.
Somebody gave me a knock-down shelf 25 years ago. This is all it’s good for in the long run. Buy real furniture, people! I use pneumatic nails to nail it to the frame.

So we walked it down the ramp from the truck and put it right on the sled. We needed to avoid it tipping over and crushing me, standing at the bottom of the ramp, so I nailed the pallet to the sled with as many three inch framing nails as I could fit. The strap was gravy.

I could easily lift the box by pulling down on the bottom of the lever arm we’d made. There was less than three feet under the box, and I had over nine feet of lever. But there would be a moment when the sled would be tipped downhill, but not fully in contact with the whole ramp. It might start moving pretty quick — too fast. Fast is always bad. So we put self-adhesive abrasive tape on the ramp to increase the friction.

There’s a lot of figuring and checking. My helpers can’t be hurt, as they’re at the top of this rollercoaster looking down, but I imagine that watching the thing crush me and being sent to the workhouse for the rest of their miserable lives would be less fun than shoe-shopping and playing X-Box, so I was determined not to let the thing land on me. I’m considerate like that.

But it started to rain, less than thirty seconds after I was dumb enough to say: “Thank God it hasn’t rained.” Time to act.

I tipped that thing down, and the sled hung up perfectly on the ramp. The boy ran around to the bottom with me, and we inched it down by wiggling it a bit. The angle of the sled gets less acute as the lever end slides across the floor, and so the force trying to make it a runaway train abates pretty quick. Et voila!; it has arrived:

And then the setup faeries came while we ate cupcakes and then slumbered, and they put the thing together from the jumble of gun-greased cast iron and bolts that was in the crate. Or I put it together. It was one or the other; I can’t recall now.

And now, we’re back in business.

23 Responses

  1. Awesome, in the truest meaning of the word.

    Last weekend I finished replacing some cheap awful baseboard moulding, put in by me 15 years ago. Now I know how to do some of this better.

    I also reframed the window and 2 doors using reclaimed moulding from a 100 year old house. Now it looks like the other rooms.

    Damn that was fun.

  2. I've been gone too long, and regret being a stranger.

    And that saw is a thing of beauty, even if it never did anything at all.

  3. I am somewhat bothered by the fact that having merely typed the words 'baseboard' and 'moulding' and now a picture of baseboard moulding for sale is in a little ad on another page I am reading.

  4. I moved a lot of heavy stuff this year. Much of it by myself, using leverage and ramps. Rollers were my friends. It is amazing what one or, when you can convince a friend or relative to help, two people can accomplish with a bit of thought and the careful application of force.

    Here's to millwrights, amateur and professional, wherever you may toil.

  5. Sixty Grit- The best education is procured out in the landscape, ain't it?

    Pogo- Make sure you scroll down to last Saturday's entry and you see my children playing music. They're called Unorganized Hancock.

  6. "Moving Heavy Things" by Jan Adkins is still an enlightening volume after almost 30 years. That tip alone was worth the purchase of the Whole Earth Catalog back in the early 80s.

  7. The answer to Pogo's dilemma about internet ad tracking is to download and install "Do Not Track +":

    Not only will it solve that problem but it also speeds up your computer marvelously. You'll find out that nearly every site you visit is tracked by about 7 different organizations. Get CCCleaner while you're at it: and happiness will be thine.
    THE Dave R., who has never lied to you and hates computer problems with or without a vengeance
    I suggest that OH's next triumph include vocal harmonies- I'd pay to hear that-
    Are you happy with that Grizzly? There used to be questions about their quality-

  8. In this situation, I would start to think about what mechanical advantage I could employ with available tire jacks or winches, or just tying a strap to the tow hook/frame of a vehicle and easing off the brake if one could be positioned, even if said strap would have to be routed around posts you set in the ground.

  9. Grizzly uses the heaviest green paint available. Dad has a workshop modeled after a building in Olde Williamsburg. There are six of those green monsters in there. The over-arm router weighs something north of 600 pounds, and cost Dad a hernia operation because Mom let the dog underfoot while she was making a documentary about gravity and thirteen brick steps.

  10. When something heavy arrives on site I point to where I want it and then go for a coffee, in my absence the moving pixies get the job done….magic!

  11. Your sons are wonderful in that video. Damnation, but they're talented.

    I never got past 'Dust in the Wind.' Retarded fingers and no sense of rhythm.

    Good thing I didn't become a surgeon.

  12. Impressive.

    IKEA gives me seizures. The store. I've never bought a single item there. I visited with a friend so I would understand the attraction. Actually, I didn't understand the attraction, but at least when someone says, "Ikea," I know it's not a tea bag.

    Sorry, I transgressed.

  13. IKEA has swedish meatballs which have been my favorite food since i was like five and one day last year a student informed me that IKEA serves swedish meatballs so now I go there every day I work and I get to eat my favorite food every day. So there's that-

  14. The longer the lever, the easier the lift.

    I made a Cursillo retreat and they used the word 'palanca'…Spanish for lever…for the sacrificial prayers that were being made for our successful retreat.

    They were summarized in love letters from folks who were making the sacrifices. Small and large sacrifices are the lever that move the spiritual world.

  15. @Ruth Anne

    Didja know that "palanca" is perjorative slang for the inhabitants of Mexico City?

    The literal meaning is lever, but it also means high (as in haughty), clout, or political pull.

  16. @60

    It is amazing what one or, when you can convince a friend or relative to help, two people can accomplish with a bit of thought and the careful application of force.

    This guy makes your (and Sipp's) point in spades.

  17. @BJM – funny (interesting? coincidental? predestined?) that you should mention that man's work – I saw a television show about him and he inspired me when I set about moving my first shed. I was able to raise it, get rollers under it, and move it 100 feet across my yard using muscle power, mostly my own. I might have just scratched a check had I not been silly enough to think that moving buildings was something I could do.

    From there, I and a friend loaded it onto his lowboy trailer and drove it 20 miles to its new home. Unloading was very tricky – we used two come-alongs secured to a neighbor's trees and it went well – but I have to say, when the center of gravity of the shed reached the tipping point and the shed slid down the ramp, there was a moment of concern – I was still on the trailer, my friend was working from ground level, and when the dust settled, he was nowhere in sight.

    He had sought safety behind my garage when gravity started acting on the shed and I must say I was mightily relieved when he popped out around the corner, in one piece, with a big smile on his face. Moving heavy stuff is never a boring experience. With luck all of that is behind me.

  18. Hi Dave- Singing together would be a hoot. The boys are working on new things as we speak. Say tuned!

    I have three or four Grizzly tools. They're fine. Nothing fancy. Lots of cast iron.

    Hi anon- There was water, and a slope of 45 degrees, right behind that bulkhead. We didn't need a winch, because the friction of the runners kept the box from running downhill.

    Hiya Harriet- It's WalMart that gives me seizures. I hardly ever leave the house, and the only store for fifty miles is the WallyWorld, and if I go in there, MEGO.

    I've never been to an IKEA. Then again, I've never been to a gynecologist, either. There's nothing there that I need.

    Ruth Anne- That's lovely.

    Hi BJM- Thanks for reading and commenting. I've seen that dude's website before. He's very clever.

  19. Land sakes, you are funny. And pretty handy, it seems.

    I came here by way of sir Glynn Young…

    My husband, 8-year old son, and I moved an Amish-made wood cookstove off of a trailer, through the house, and placed it just below the stove pipe hole – all by ourselves.

    Oh, I lied a little bit, we used the winch on the truck to get it off the trailer, 2 $15 piano movers underneath it so we could push the beast through the house, and furniture coaster things to slide it into place. And lots of 2×4's.

    It's a good thing you fellas have the whole mechanical brain thing going because if it was left to me, my family would be huddled around our heat and cook source outside, on the back of the trailer.


  20. Hi Darlene- Thanks for reading and commenting, and sharing your story. I find accomplishing things with your family is always memorable. You'll remember it long after vacations are forgotten. I never go on vacations, so it's twice as easy for me.

    Glynn is a decent, genial and intelligent man, and I'm grateful for his Intertunnel friendship.

  21. There are some interesting articles about IKEA and slave labor during WWII, the biggest change from then to now is that now they treat the customers worse.
    No aisles, and the merchandise tags are in Swedish (or middle-earth for all I know). The layout is a gauntlet-ed maze, or a mazey gauntlet, to buy anything you must apparently look at everything.
    At the (blessed) end, gnomes work cash registers and tally up the bill, you can pay with credit cars but there is a discount for gold coins stolen from a sleeping dragon. They don't give you plastic bags (.01 cents apiece to make), they sell them to you for a quarter of a dollar. That's when I practiced my low-earth greetings on them and piled my purchases (unbagged) onto the flatbed cart I had been laboring behind through the whole Disneyland's dwarf mine. It was still marked,"Property of the SS".

    Never went back. Pity, the meatballs are tasty.

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