• J Trevor Robinson

IKEA troubles: HAUGA closet

Today's post is something a little different, but I hope it can help someone. This is all about fixing an apparently-common quality control issue with the HAUGA closet from IKEA, and I'll show you how I did it. But first, I need to explain what the problem was.


The Short Version

I got the wrong HAUGA parts from IKEA, the replacements were still wrong, but I was able to fix it with a few finishing nails and some elbow grease.


The Problem

Recently, I moved into a new house. There's no closet in the master bedroom, so my wife and I bought one of these: a HAUGA closet from IKEA.

Photo taken from ikea.com


See those open parts on either end? Those parts are officially called the "HAUGA Open wardrobe with 3 drawers" at IKEA, article number 804.569.20. And those were the cause of a two-week headache that this post is all about fixing.


When we got our boxes home and opened them up, the panels that make up either side of the lower half (where the drawers go) had their holes drilled incorrectly. Here's what the instructions show they should look like. Notice that the panels are supposed to have three rows of three evenly-spaced holes each. Those are where the drawer rails attach, so they need to match pretty precisely on these panels (which the instructions call CR and CL).

Screenshot from online IKEA manual.


Meanwhile, these are the pieces we got. Notice how the holes on CL look correct, but the holes on CR aren't even remotely close. You'll ALSO notice that the instructions show a pair of small holes close together near the upper-left corner of CL. Don't worry about those; they're missing, but they're also never used in the instructions, so it's fine.


Now, IKEA has a policy of sending replacement parts if you need them, so you think that would be the end of the story. But after two weeks of waiting, the replacement panels were exactly the same as the originals. I wasted an entire Saturday morning on hold with IKEA customer support, and in between getting hung up on three times while waiting 15+ minutes on hold each time, I gradually learned two things:

First, that IKEA policy is not to actually open the boxes and make sure the replacement parts are correct.

Second, that a lot of people have had this exact same complaint about the HAUGA unit.


The Solution

Rather than wait another two weeks for even more panels that were just as likely to be wrong, I decided I had to fix these panels myself.


First, I found nine finishing nails that were 1.5 cm long (about 5/8"). The precise length isn't important, which you'll see in a moment.

Nickel for scale.


Next, I laid out the CL panel (which had the correct holes) on a flat surface with the holes facing up. I put one finishing nail pointing up into each hole, so the sharp bit just barely came up out of it.

Closeup of one hole to illustrate the point.


With all nine nails in place, carefully lay the CR panel (the one where the holes were utter nonsense) on top to line up with the CL panel. Make sure the CR holes are facing down, and the "dog-eared" corner of each panel lines up.

Finally, press firmly down on the top panel. The goal is to have the finishing nails make small pilot holes to show you where the drawer rails are supposed to be mounted.


Once the CR panel is taken off and the finishing nails put away, you should have nine small holes in the CR panel. If you have a drill with an appropriately small bit, you can simply drill out these holes (being careful not to drill all the way through). I couldn't find my drill, being in the middle of moving, so I used a screwdriver and drywall screw to do the same thing - it was slow, and I had to clean the edges of each hole with my pocketknife, but it worked.


With that done, you can continue assembly according to the instructions. The screws to mount the drawer rails will go into the improvised holes nicely. I had to do two of these, for a total of six drawers, and one of them sticks a little bit but is still completely usable.


The Conclusion

I have a few takeaways from this whole experience:

  1. Any customer service department could make a whole "what not to do" training session out of a call to IKEA support.

  2. I will definitely not be buying any large furniture from IKEA again, if I shop there again at all.

  3. If you've also got a mis-drilled HAUGA panel, it can be fixed.

Hopefully this helps someone!


If this is your first time visiting my website and you only found it thanks to searching for "how to fix wrong HAUGA panels", you're probably in need of a good book to relax with after your struggles with flat-packed Swedish furniture. Take a look at my alternate-history horror novel The Mummy of Monte Cristo, and find out for yourself why Indies Today gave it five stars!

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