5 Essential tips for handling and moving furniture

  • In addition to using furniture wisely, it is essential to handle it carefully. Safe handling and moving of furniture begin with a basic understanding of how a piece is constructed. The second step is to plan carefully.
  1. Understand the build of the furniture before picking it up.

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  • Before picking up furniture, determine how it is put together and if any of its parts are removable or detachable. Make sure you know where the furniture is its strongest – generally along with a major horizontal element – and try to carry it from these points.
  1. Identify the new place of furniture beforehand. 

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  • Before moving an item, make sure you know exactly where it goes next. Plan ahead to adjust the temperature and relative humidity in the new location, so they are the same as where the furniture presently is. Extreme changes in temperature and humidity can cause splitting of joints and veneers.
  1. Always lift from side frame of the furniture. 

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  • When lifting a chair, remember that the seat rail is its strongest part, not the chair back. Frequently lifting by the back, especially the crest rail, will eventually result in breakage. For small chairs, lift by the side seat rails, one hand near the front on one side, the other near the rear on the other side.
  • When lifting a large chair or sofa, the principles are the same. Grab underneath the side frame, making sure to lift with your legs rather than your back. For upholstered chairs or sofas, place your hands underneath the frame to avoid touching the upholstery. If upholstery must be touched, use cotton gloves.
  1. A case piece requires at least 2 people for moving.

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  • The strongest part of a table is generally the apron. Whenever possible, lift the table carefully from the apron, never by the top or legs. Lifting on the top rather than the apron may break the glue-blocks that hold the top to the frame or strip out the screws that hold the top on. Grabbing the legs, particularly tables with long, unsupported legs, will cause unnecessary stress on the leg and the joint connecting it to the apron. 
  • While case pieces, especially large ones, may appear very different from tables and chairs, the same rules apply. Never try to move a large piece by yourself. A case piece requires at least two people. While a case piece requires can be moved by carrying it carefully, holding on to the bottom as you would a table or chair, it is better to move the piece on a dolly. 
  1. Separate the drawers before moving a chest of drawers. 

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  • If the carcass is sturdy enough, remove all drawers to lighten the load and make a move easier. Carry the drawers separately to the destination. Never grab a heavy piece like a chest of drawers or Bookcase by the cornice at the top. The attachment of the top to the base may be loosened and pull apart from the rest of the piece.


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5 Essential tips for handling and moving furniture