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IKEA offers lots of furniture and utensils for self-assembly, some of which are pretty sophisticated, requiring screws and fasteners and some are pretty easy to assemble without tools or connecting parts.

I take IKEA as they are known for modularity, especially for efficiency in storage. While big furniture is clearly out of question, small or simple items like utensils are tricky, maybe a snap-on handle for a plastic glass or, say, two-piece fork.

In general, what types of those tools/furniture can be constructed on Shabbos?

  • Are there specific IKEA tools/methods/parts you have in mind, making this a parallel to questions like this or is this the general question "What types of furniture can be constructed?"? – WAF Oct 15 at 5:19
  • @WAF THe linked question looks like a Q. about a tent. And tools/utensils might be different. I took IKEA as they are known for modularity, especially for efficiency in storage. While big furniture is clearly out of question, small items like utensils are tricky, maybe just a handle for a plastic glass or, say, two-piece fork. – Al Berko Oct 15 at 8:33
  • You might do well to specify that. I almost edited into the question that it is not about large furniture, but there's already an answer addressing that exclusively and specifically. . . – WAF Oct 15 at 8:41
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Those Halachot are quite famous, this is where you should start looking:

טור שיג

מטה של פרקים, אסור להחזירה ולהדקה, ואם תקע חייב חטאת. ואם היה רפויה מותר לכתחלה...

Tur 313

A bed made of "joints" (parts that are made to disassemble and reassemble): It is forbidden to assemble it (on Shabbat), and if he did he needs [to offer] a sacrifice. And if it's loose [its assembly is] allowed from the get-go.

3

R Jack Abramowitz clarifies (here) the distinction between the permitted and forbiddden part of the melacha of boneh (assembling or building)

While the av melacha (primary labor) involves both assembling separate pieces into a unified whole and forming a shelter, either activity is prohibited on Shabbos, even if the other is not accomplished. Accordingly, one may not pitch a tent or throw schach on the roof of a Succah (forming a shelter in the absence of assembling pieces). Likewise, one may not put together pre-fabricated furniture (such as one might get at Ikea), even though doing so does not create a shelter. Even screwing the handle into a broom is assembling and therefore boneh!

Home repairs are included under the melacha of boneh, as one is not permitted to add to an existing structure on Shabbos. Driving a nail into a wall for a picture hook or laying tile are adding to the building and therefore boneh. It is not boneh, however, when an action reflects an object’s normal mode of use. Therefore, if a sliding door comes off its track, it may be replaced. Similarly, one might replace the spring-operated dispenser that holds a roll of bathroom tissue. [...]

While one may not assemble furniture or other utensils on Shabbos, one may open and close folding objects such as tables, chairs, portacribs and strollers. One may not use an umbrella on Shabbos, however, because it creates a shelter.

(see also Halachipedia).

Note that the melacha of makeh b’patish (rendering something fit for use for the first time, see e.g., here) is another reason not to build furniture.

Bottom line: most IKEA furniture cannot be assembled on Shabbat and a rav should be asked in specific cases of emergency.

  • Thank you, the answer rules out big furniture or those needing fasterners like screws. I clarified the question a bit toward smaller and simpler tools that not require screws. Would you please elaborate on those. – Al Berko Oct 15 at 8:54
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    @AlBerko "IKEA furniture" is not a halachic category and they sell 1000s of items. I answered the question's first version which speaks of furniture. A glass or fork is not furniture but rather a utensil. In general it is forbidden to assemble those (see Rambam Shabbat 7:6 Whenever one collects separate entities and bonds them together so that they form a single mass, [the activity] resembles building.) but it might be different if the utensil existed before Shabbat and you are rebuilding, or if the utensil could be used on its own before (e.g., handle of a glass). Different q though – mbloch Oct 15 at 13:30
  • @AlBerko you might want to revert question to previous version - and ask a different question if you have specific items in mind – mbloch Oct 15 at 13:31

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