IKEA bed assembly: Tarva videos and photos

I created this helpful article as a resource for anyone who is about to try assembling an IKEA bed, because the assembly manual is crap.

If you are here while doing research to see if an IKEA bed might be for you I recommend that you check out my strength tests using concrete weights on the slats here and the wood frame here.

I was surprised by the results during my reviews.

IKEA Tarva assembly manual

I found the assembly instructions to be terrible. Such as shame too. I installed IKEA kitchens before and they provided excellent written instructions with decent images (Thankfully, because they come in a few million pieces!).

So I was disappointed to see that a company as large as IKEA only spent a couple of hours throwing this assembly manual together.

Even though I am a man I actually did try to follow the instructions. I screwed up three times and had to start over or back up a step or two.

In my former life, I wrote hundreds of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in a previous life and I would 100% have fired myself if I produced instructions that are this pathetic.

I am confused. Instructions without words
I am confused. Instructions without words

Bed parts

Layout the headboard, rails, and footboard in order to help you visualize the finished assembled bed.

Lay out the footboard legs with the holes at the footboard end and with two holes facing up, two holes facing away from the bed, and the three holes facing each other (towards the bed).

The center hole on the inside of the leg gets one wood dowel in each leg.

Setting the IKEA  Tarva parts on the floor
Setting the IKEA Tarva parts on the floor

Installing the wood dowels

Warning: If the dowels don’t slide into the pre-drilled holes then you are likely installing it in the incorrect location. The smaller holes are for the bolts to fasten the parts together.

I learned this the hard way. As a typical dumb man, I just ran around and punched in the dowels in every hole I saw. Until I ran short of dowels…then I had to figure out where I installed them that I should not have lol. Screwup 1.

Oh, and good luck getting the dowels out of the smaller holes. I broke three and managed to save one. And of course, the three broken ones create new problems:

  1. I didn’t have enough dowels for the rest of the correct holes.
  2. I had to find a small screwdriver (or punch) to punch the remaining dowel pieces out of each hole.

The good news is that I now know another easy way to determine that the hole does not receive a dowel: If the hole penetrates the entire wood then it is intended to receive a bolt in a future step.

Installing the wood dowels
Installing the wood dowels

Assembling the headboard

In the video below I am showing how to fix screwup 1. I used a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench to beat the broken dowel out of the hole.

I was not planning on doing this project today so most of my tools are at the village house. Oh well, I can make do with what tools I have nearby.

Scott punching broken dowels out of the wrong hole

It is much easier to assemble the headboard pieces with another set of hands, but my wife is busy filming me and listening to my curse about my screwups and the terrible instructions haha.

Assembling the headboard

Installing the metal sleeves

Install the eight metal sleeves into the four legs, with two in each leg in the holes facing up. Nice hammer eh?

Installing metal sleeves in the legs

Installing the nuts into the side rails

Slip the nuts into the side rails and slide the wood rail over the metal sleeve. Use a flat screwdriver to make sure the nut opening faces the metal sleeve. Slide a bolt through the metal sleeve and into the nut and tighten with your hand.

Adding a wood side rail to the headboard
Adding a wood side rail to the headboard
Fastening side rail to the headboard with two bolts
Fastening the side rail to the headboard with two bolts
Tightening the bolts a second time
Tightening the bolts a second time

Attaching the footboard

After the rails are attached to the headboard it is time to attach the footboard.


If you are alone you need to plan ahead for this step. Gather together the nuts, bolts, metal sleeves, hammer or block of wood, straight screwdriver, and the Allen wrench. Make sure each is within reach of the bed corner where you will start.

Footboard assembly if alone

  1. Attach the first corner by straddling the footboard so that you can hold it up with your legs.
  2. Use one hand to lift the wood rail and position it so the rail hole lines up with the metal sleeve insert.
  3. Use your free hand to hit the footboard leg to force the metal sleeve into the rail hole. You can use a block or wood or the handle of a hammer rather than using your hand.
  4. Insert a nut and use the flat screwdriver to turn the nut so the opening is facing the sleeve.
  5. Insert a bolt and tighten until it is difficult to turn.
  6. Use the provided Allen wrench to tighten the bolt until the footboard and rail are flush.
  7. Repeat this process for all bolts on both sides.
  8. Retighten all bolts.
Attaching the footboard with the bolts

Attaching the metal slat support rails

This step is also easier if there are two people so that both ends of the metal rails can be held in place while installing the screws.

I did this alone and I tried attaching one end first, got frustrated, and tried another method. I started in the center and installed one screw and I found this to be much easier.

So if you are alone, start in the center and work towards one end and then the other.

Screwing the metal angle bracket to the side rail to hold the slats

Installing the cross-member support bracket

This cross-member support bracket actually does not provide any strength to the slats. The purpose of this bracket is to prevent the center of the bed frame from bowing out. The slats could fall through the frame if the wood rails bend out due to excessive weight or movement.

Installing the metal cross-member support

Installing the Luroy slats

Install the four black hooks that hold the slats at each end of the bed. Install them in the holes that are the farthest apart. This allows you to pull the slats tight around the hooks to reduce the movement and noise.

This step is easier if you have an extra set of hands to hold one end of the slats in place while you roll out the rest of them.

If you are assembling the bed alone you can place the roll of slats on the metal rails. Then unfold enough to install one end around the two black stoppers (these will be your helper).

Adding the IKEA Luroy bed slats
Fully assembled IKEA Tarva wood bed frame with Luroy slats
Fully assembled IKEA Tarva wood bed frame with Luroy slats

Now all you need is to add a mattress! Or if you are me, hundreds of pounds of concrete weights to test the strength of the slats (test article here) and wood rail (article here). I also did the test for the Grimsbu model and you can see the damage I did here. Another article to check out is about if IKEA beds break easily here.

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