Skip

Made by Brad
January 17, 2014 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Made by Brad Brad can't read or talk, but he can put together complex furniture.

Although he doesn’t read or speak, Brad Fremmerlid has an amazing ability to understand the most complex diagrams, blueprints and pictorial instructions. And for a small fee — currently about $20 — he will build any piece of furniture in your home.

“Everyone tells us we should be charging more, but we’re not really looking for money,” said his father, Mark Fremmerlid, an air ambulance pilot, who launched the business for his son this month. “We just want him to have something meaningful to do.


Brad's website.

A video of Brad in action.
posted by modernnomad (51 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fantastic! Great to see a talent being used. I wish I had this skill. I have sat down to build IKEA furniture in the past and ended up weeping with frustration as a simple desk gradually fails to come together, much to the disgust of my partner. (Plus we all need to spin more!)
posted by greenhornet at 8:45 PM on January 17


AAAAAA+++++++ WOULD BRAD AGAIN!!!!!1!!!
posted by slogger at 8:46 PM on January 17


my friends at JPL would dearly love to get some of their blueprints finally put together....ah...but funding is for three more years....nevermind
posted by shockingbluamp at 8:47 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


$20 and he'll put together anything? I will seriously consider his service next time I buy furniture.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:48 PM on January 17


Damn. This is awesome. Thanks for posting.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:49 PM on January 17


Actually, I have a bookcase right now that's been sitting in a box for the last six or seven years...
posted by Kevin Street at 8:51 PM on January 17


I'm the downer here.

Can people really not figure these things out themselves? Like you just look at the extensively diagrammed pictures and do what it tells you.

I'm sorry.
posted by sanka at 8:57 PM on January 17 [11 favorites]


Boo Sanka.

Y'know, paying a guy $20 canadian to put some Ikea thing together is a pretty fair trade off.
posted by Catblack at 9:00 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


Sanka, did you read any of the linked stuff? It has nothing to do with people not being physically able to put the furniture together themselves, but rather providing an opportunity for someone to do so who has a very limited set of abilities.

I can (and have) put Ikea furniture together many times. If I lived in Edmonton would I happily let Brad do it for $20? Yup.
posted by modernnomad at 9:01 PM on January 17 [16 favorites]


Can people really not figure these things out themselves? Like you just look at the extensively diagrammed pictures and do what it tells you.

CAN do it, yes. Have done it many times before. However, it's time consuming and as someone with a small child who loves to run off with bags of small pieces and who doesn't appreciate hammering after bedtime, I've also paid more than $20 for a professional Ikea person to do it for me.

I would happily hire Brad instead of IKEA Service Dude if I loved in Edmonton, no question.
posted by sonika at 9:06 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


This is the first (and likely the last) time I wish I lived in Edmonton! Fantastic story!
posted by sadtomato at 9:13 PM on January 17 [4 favorites]


It's a nice story. Ikea instructions are do-able...but some folks grok more easily than others. For example: I can put it together but 33% of the time I end up with parts that I somehow forgot to include. My wife on the other hand, never misses a single part, and she can put it together in half the time that I can.

And yes I would totally pay for Brad's service if he were in my town. I would gladly pay twice that.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:16 PM on January 17 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty good at putting together IKEA furniture. I actually find it sort of interesting as a task, and I don't mind doing it at all. But there are still bits of IKEA furniture that I own that I'd have happily paid somebody more than $20 to assemble.

Some of that is because I'm just one person and there are a few things I own that have 'requires 2 people' right on the box. Some of it just because, goddamnit there are a lot of drawers in a Hemnes dresser, and after awhile, it's not that much fun to put them together.

There are already a wide variety of IKEA assembly services already in existence. Depending on the country you live in, IKEA may offer the service themselves, or they may refer you to an outside contractor. Either way, this is a job that already exists (and which costs considerably more than $20 in most instances) so having someone like Brad do it is not exposing some heretofore unknown moral failing on the part of people who are willing to pay to not have to deal with this shit.

There's an existing need for this service and Brad is apparently an efficient and cost-effective provider of it. Good for him and his family.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:46 PM on January 17 [7 favorites]


Many years ago when I was the purchasing/facilities manager for a small company, a recently promoted employee needed a desk for her new office. We found one she liked at a nearby office supply store. It came knocked down in a box, IKEA style. They would deliver it for nothing, but assembly was about $25. Being budget conscious, we thought "$25?!? How hard can it be if they can profitably assemble it for $25?!? We'll save the money and do it ourselves!!!" It took us HOURS to put that damn thing together. It was the worst money I never spent.

If Brad could time travel, I would gladly hire him and still save $5. Good for Brad, I wish we all could find something we could do as well as he does with that furniture. Nice story.
posted by Daddy-O at 10:01 PM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Wow, that's like $12.00 USD! [or at least it was fifteen years ago]
posted by oceanjesse at 10:06 PM on January 17


For $20 Canadian, it's almost worth it to me to pay shipping for this service. Just like Brad's not wired for speech, I'm not wired to put furniture together. To farm it out and give him the joy of being productive, it would be a bargain at twice the price. Good for him.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:21 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


My pet theory is that people who can't figure out IKEA instructions didn't put in enough LEGO time as a kid.

(Paying someone in order to spare the time and effort, I can appreciate.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:23 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


I would have easily paid $100 for someone to assemble my IKEA couch for me. *shudder*

Next time, I'm getting a Brad.
posted by Theta States at 10:39 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


This thread is far more entertaining misreading "pants" for "parts."
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:41 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Mike Hamm (who put the video together) is a great guy who also works with Anthony, for Anthony at Your Service.
posted by Doug Stewart at 10:57 PM on January 17


Some people have absolutely no visual or spatial skills. Some of my closest friends are that type of person. They can neither drive well nor put ikea stuff together. Brad would be an incredible resource for them.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:57 PM on January 17


I live in Edmonton!

(But I like putting together IKEA furniture...)  :(

The secret is to not over tighten the screws.
posted by mazola at 11:12 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


> Can people really not figure these things out themselves? Like you just look at the extensively diagrammed pictures and do what it tells you.

Nope. I paid for my final college years pretending to be a handyman. I charged eight times more than Brad to put Ikea stuff together and he's likely twice as smart as I am. There are a couple of mefites that paid me to assemble their Ikea schwag (not naming names, you know who you are, thanks for the beer money, I will give you a public shout out if you'd like). And I charged double that to fix Ikea furniture that was put together poorly. Thanks craigslist.

I was there often enough to call the Ikea loading zone "The place where relationships die" because I have seen my share of blowouts and meltdowns when people try to load their flat packed crap into their car. If you're not in a hurry, it's a great place for people watching (if you like conflict and sadness).

Re: assembly, many people do dumb things things like use a power drill to turn a screw into particle board. If you keep tightening that screw, it will just bore out a big hole instead of acting as a fastener. If you're using a power drill, how do you know when to stop? You don't, keep drilling until it's stripped!

But that's not covered in the instructions! And, unfortunately, you won't learn the lesson after the first stripped-out screw, you will do this two or three dozen more times before you start to wonder why your dresser is so wobbly. "Goddam you Ikea, I was following the directions, but using power tools." Then, how do you fix that? You can't really, maybe some glue and dowels if you have some carpentry know-how and tools, but if you had that you wouldn't be in that mess.

An Ikea protip for those with a spirit of adventure and joie de vivre: Use hand tools and stop screwing when you meet resistance. If you think you need powertools to do the job, you have already lost the battle. If you're in a hurry, buy furniture already assembled into it's functional state.

If you don't know what you are doing, it's pretty natural to have a total freak-out reaction. It's like a nesting instinct specific SAT test for those approaching middle age. This stuff cost money and you want it to make your life better, but you are worried you will fuck it up, waste your money, and won't make your life better. Smart, successful people are reduced to asking if you can make it work. What's wrong with me, it's just "extensively diagrammed pictures?" Sometime you can't figure out what the Ikea Pakled is telling you to do.

People are funny, they will pay hundreds of dollars to fix a $40 coffee table that they broke putting it together. There seems to be a moral stigma with goofing up your flat pack furniture, your primal domestic urges are found to be not up to snuff when it comes to engineered materials. You could have bought three more crap tables and figured it out on your own for less than what I charged for some glue, screws, dowels and a judgement-free, positive attitude. But that easy money paid my rent. Thanks Ikea instructions for being so approachable, yet completely inscrutable when it comes to the details.

Lesson I was sad to learn: people will pay more to never have to try and fail, to have a turn-key solution to a DIY shopping experience.

Also, everybody makes the joke about the missing part. That was some funny, cutting edge shit in the 80's. I've never opened a box of Ikea schwag and had anything missing. I've build, disassembled, and rebuild a small city's worth of Ikea furniture. There was never, ever anything missing.
posted by peeedro at 11:33 PM on January 17 [33 favorites]


"This is the first (and likely the last) time I wish I lived in Edmonton!"

That's hurtful.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:46 PM on January 17


I had to use power tools on an IKEA Folldall recently, but it was actually made of real wood, and not particle board. Also, I know to tap the trigger on the drill instead of holding it down so you don't strip the screw head.

I attribute it more to taking apart toasters and ruining all my transformer toys as a kid. Destroy things as a child, and you learn how not to destroy them as an adult.
posted by fnerg at 12:20 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


I would pay someone money to LET me put together their IKEA furniture. It's like Lego! For grown-ups! But if I lived in Edmonton, I'd consider hiring Brad anyway, because I think it's great he found a job that gives him such satisfaction.
posted by lollusc at 2:36 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


Fantastic story and good for Brad and his folks. There's nothing better than doing something you'd do anyway and be respected in your community, and also paid for it.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:58 AM on January 18


I wish I lived close to this guy, so that he could have assembled our IKEA bed last month. We would have paid him twice his rate. I'm okay with tools/problem-solving/instructions/diagrams - but I was also 7 months pregnant, and our current set of tools are kind of perfunctory. So, it sucked.

My favorite part of assembling this bed, was getting 75% of the way through the process, and finding out that one set of those specialized little screw bullshits did not, would not, could not fit into the exact little holes they were assigned to. And these holes were in metal mattress supports, not wood/pseudowood. I'm serious; they wouldn't fit at all. We checked and re-checked the instructions, we tried 1000 times to see where our failure was. We were sure we were doing it wrong, but somehow, it turns out that we weren't.

Then we went a-Googling, and discovered a bunch of other people had the same complaint about the same damned screw bullshits in similar IKEA beds. Then we tried not to cry. Then a hero at Lowes helped us figure out a solution. Which was great, because it was 2 days before Christmas, and the nearest IKEA was 137 miles away.

(I brought the frigging piece of metal, the instructions, and the screw bullshits with us to Lowes, so someone else could confirm we weren't crazy. We were not crazy. The bullshits would not fit KILL KILL KILL.)
posted by Coatlicue at 3:58 AM on January 18


1. This is a great story. Go Brad!
2. If you don't live in Edmonton, here's the secret:

With the parts spread out on Broz’s living room floor, Brad studied the instructions for several minutes and then started to work.

RTFM!
posted by chavenet at 4:18 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]


> I can put it together but 33% of the time I end up with parts that I somehow forgot to include. My wife on the other hand, never misses a single part, and she can put it together in half the time that I can.

A couple years ago, my wife and I married and moved about six hundred miles. So we left behind pretty nearly everything besides our bed and couch, and bought about 2/3 of the furniture for our new house in one Ikea visit after moving into the new place.

That particular Ikea is about 160 miles away. So we planned... hard. While sitting on cardboard boxes and folding chairs or, heck, the floor. Figured out what we should spend, and went for it.

Rented a minivan at the local airport for the job -- $50 for a day was cheaper than hiring a truck or paying for delivery, and meant we wouldn't have to fuss over logistics as much. Everything fit and we made it back in one day.

Over the next couple weeks I gradually assembled the innards of our new house: A dining table, a couple each of dressers, filing cabinets (to use as nightstands), flat files (for additional clothing), desks... so I came up with a routine.

Every time I started a new bit of furniture, I pulled out the following things first:
# Instructions
# The plastic baggy with the holding-together things inside.

Then I inventoried the holding-together things against the instruction manual's stated count, and laid them out in neat rows on my newly-built desk. Complex furniture -- anything with drawers, basically -- always included at least one extra screw and usually a couple wooden pegs or plastic expansion bolts as well. Always.

Simpler pieces of furniture usually had exactly the stated number of parts.

I've never had difficulty building flat-pack style furniture because I'm one of those people with good spacial sense. But starting each new project with an inventory made the actual getting-it-done a hell of a lot easier. Assembling drawers for seven different things-that-have-drawers-in-them became a routine of pick a piece to my left, attach it to the piece in front of me, using an expansion bolt from the third row on the surface to my right... with this much furniture to build, I'm not sure I could have handled it any other way without going mad or taking even longer than I ended up taking.
posted by ardgedee at 4:29 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


> If you're using a power drill, how do you know when to stop?

Use a power driver, or a drill with a clutch at the loosest setting. Drive until the clutch rattles, then tighten by hand. It saved me days of labor.
posted by ardgedee at 4:31 AM on January 18 [5 favorites]


I've put together three houses worth of Ikea furniture and only had one package recently that was missing key components. I wonder how that would have gone.
posted by odinsdream at 5:26 AM on January 18


It's not a service I would use, because I'm one of those people who find ikea to be like Lego, but good for him that he's found his thing and is providing a valued service.

I'm pretty sure I've never had a missing part in an ikea box, and I've bought lots of stuff there in every move over the last ten or fifteen years. I would love to visit a factory of theirs, but I've always assumed that they check fastener packages with extremely sensitive scales, rather than counting the little pieces.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:37 AM on January 18


I have had good luck with my Black & Decker cordless screwdriver. It's fast enough to drive screws faster than I can by hand, but slow enough to sense the resistance so you don't strip it. I just assembled an Ikea sideboard with no issues.

Agreed on the spatial abilities. I have no problem with assembly, but I am also adept with Lego bricks and 3D media in general. My wife leaves the house entirely while I do assembly. She wants no part of it.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:17 AM on January 18


Random Ikea notes:

I've had missing parts in Ikea boxes in the past year. You go back to the Ikea store and they have a counter with a giant room behind full of rows and rows of shelving with drawers full of different parts. You tell the clerk what you're missing and they get it - no questions asked. Maybe a good percentage of people come around looking for extra and not missing parts, but it seems like a thing Ikea has learned to deal with. Plus, 50-cent hot dogs!

A friend of mine and I put together one of the those triple-wide wardrobes. We were ready to kill each other by the time it was over. A man's got to know his Ikea limitations. I'd look for the local Brad next time around on anything that big.

What I've been stung with too many times are those little one-way bolt-shaped wood fasteners which allow one to put something together wrong in two minutes that then takes 40 minutes to get apart again.

I hired an electrician once who looked around my dining room at the Ikea shelves and asked, "Did you put these together yourself?" When I answered yes, he told me going to jobs and having people present him with boxes of Ikea stuff with "And if we paid you extra could you put together..." was so routine now it never surprised him.
posted by lagomorphius at 8:13 AM on January 18


Everyone no matter their limitations has a thing they're really great at. I'm glad Brad's found it and would happily hire him. We've got two Ikea dressers sitting in boxes going on week three because my fiancée and I have decided we'd rather not hate each other right now than have a place to put underpants.
posted by marylynn at 8:31 AM on January 18


My pet theory is that people who can't figure out IKEA instructions didn't put in enough LEGO time as a kid.

Hole in your theory: classic (best) Lego is freestyle, not themed and prescribed. I'd totally pay for someone else to follow someone else's directions.
posted by headnsouth at 9:45 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


> I would have easily paid $100 for someone to assemble my IKEA couch for me

I'm another person who enjoys putting together Ikea furniture, and even managed to get a 5X5 Expedit together and upright all on my own, but their sofas? Their sofas are just no damn fun to assemble.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:15 AM on January 18


I owned a LOT of LEGO sets and put 95% of them together myself...and then about 30 minutes later I disassembled them so I could my own things. My wife is appalled at this.

I think that's the difference: it's not that I can't read IKEA instructions, and indeed they are similar to LEGO; rather it's that I would much rather build my own stuff and burn the instructions in the fireplace.

As a mostly responsible adult, I cannot do that with my recently purchased IKEA furniture.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:23 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


As a mostly responsible adult, I cannot do that with my recently purchased IKEA furniture.

It's true. Burning particle board is bad for your health.
posted by madajb at 11:53 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]


Wow, you guys have a lot of IKEA furniture.
Several houses worth?

I think I have a spaghetti spoon and maybe a pair of scissors.
Granted, it's a pretty cool looking spoon, but still...
posted by madajb at 11:58 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]


Agreed on the spatial abilities. I have no problem with assembly, but I am also adept with Lego bricks and 3D media in general. My wife leaves the house entirely while I do assembly. She wants no part of it.

LOL. She wants no part of YOU when you start cussing.
posted by notreally at 1:48 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


madjab, IKEA is comparatively cheap, designed for smaller living areas, and is usually attractive and versatile enough to work in most spaces. The Creature family ain't made'o'money so it's a practical choice.

The only thing I wouldn't buy from there is a sofa, because their's just aren't that comfy.
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:19 PM on January 18


DH BH never, NEVER, ever looks at instructions for assembly. Drives me nuts. Most things he's fine with, except new tents. Can never figure new tents. I wait till he's done swearing, sort out the poles, then read him the instructions line by line. He's also the kind of guy that can tear down an engine for rebuild, put it together with 2-3 bolts left over, and the blasted thing runs like a demon, no prob, forever after. Go figger.

But re: the post. Good on Brad. He provides a needed service and makes money doing something he likes. He has dignity and self-worth. What more can we wish for?
posted by BlueHorse at 2:37 PM on January 18


god this made me cry. i was smiling but still cried.
Brad is rad. i wish i could give him a hug, but he might not receive it so well.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 8:56 PM on January 18


madjab, IKEA is comparatively cheap, designed for smaller living areas, and is usually attractive and versatile enough to work in most spaces. The Creature family ain't made'o'money so it's a practical choice.

Oh sure, it works for a lot of people.

I'm just wondering if it's possible to own say, one bookshelf, or if when you go to IKEA to buy that bookshelf, you mysteriously return with an entire bedroom set.
posted by madajb at 11:16 AM on January 19


Entire bedroom set, plus six glass jars with lids that go "foof" when you open them, a hideous pillow, and a dishbrush.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:28 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Don't forget the big bag of tea candles. And an umbrella.
posted by lagomorphius at 1:42 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: If you're not in a hurry, it's a great place for people watching (if you like conflict and sadness).
posted by Evilspork at 2:37 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


I wonder if the Fletcher Capstan Table people could use Brad.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:30 PM on January 21


LOL. She wants no part of YOU when you start cussing.

Cussing is an industrial lubricant.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:24 AM on January 22


« Older Don’t let them call you by anything else.   |   Be Quick or Be Dead Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post