How to modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture

Do you own a piece of furniture with a cam lock nut and pin assembly? Most of us probably have at least one piece of IKEA furniture in our home and if you assembled it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Have you ever wanted to modify that furniture? Perhaps you want to add another fixed shelf or adjust the height of an existing fixed shelf. Today I'm sharing a tutorial on How To Modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture, it's easier than you think with the right tools.

We'll use my Bombay Concealed TV Cabinet that we repurposed into a Hollywood Regency Bar to show you how it's done. In its former state, the cabinet had a lower shelf to house the television with storage underneath for media components. The shelf was far too low to use as a bar and so we had to increase the height.

Sounds easy but the problem was the doors slid inside the cabinet when opened, which meant the shelf was a separate unit attached to the base with cam lock nuts and pins. In order to increase the height, we had to modify the fixed shelving unit.

How To Modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture

You can get a better idea of what we were dealing with in the picture below. See how the shelf is an independent unit? The round caps cover the cam lock nut assembly. Those on the top connect the shelf and sides together and those on the bottom connect the shelving unit to the base.

Cam Lock Nut Furniture Tutorial Shelf Assembly

How To Modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture 


These are the materials used to modify the shelving unit inside the bar cabinet.

Cam Lock Nut Furniture Modification Materials

I've included a Materials List further down in this post. It contains affiliate links for your convenience so you can see what products I used or recommend to modify the fixed shelving unit. What that means is that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small portion of any sales at no additional cost to you, which supports the costs of running this site. See my full disclosure policy.

Step 1 - Use old side as a template

Cam Lock Nut Tutorial Template

 Step 2 - Mark the center of the cam lock hole

Marking Center For Modifying Cam Lock Nut Furniture

Line up the template onto the top corner of the new MDF side and clamp them together to hold in place. With a 1/8-inch bit, drill a hole through the center of the original cam lock to mark the center of the new hole. Move to the opposite corner on the top and repeat the previous step.

Line up the template onto one of the bottom corners of the new MDF and repeat the previous steps. And again on the opposite bottom corner. The point is you want the cam lock holes placed in the exact position as the former template.

Repeat the above for any additional new pieces being added. In our case, we added two new sides to the shelving unit so we had to drill eight holes.

 Step 3 - Drill new cam lock holes

Drilling Lock Hole for Modifying Cam Lock Nut Furniture

With a 1-inch Forstner bit, drill the new cam lock hole to a depth where the cam lock will be flush with the surface of the new wood.

Note: you may have to drill a little deeper once the pin holes are drilled so that the cam lock nut and pin engage fully.


The photo below shows the cam lock hole once drilled.

New Lock Hole to Modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture

Step 4 - Mark the center of the cam lock pin holes

Marking Center Pin Hole to Modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture

Draw a line with a square from the center of the newly drilled Cam lock hole to the edge of the MDF. Carry the line from the side to the edge (as pictured above). On the edge of the MDF, mark the center point.

Step 5 - Drill new cam lock pin holes

Center Pin Pilot Hole to Modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture

Make a small pilot hole on the center mark with either an Awl or a 1/8-inch drill bit. Next, drill the cam lock pin hole with a 3/8-inch drill bit all the way through to the cam lock hole (as pictured below).

Important Note: The drill bit size will be determined by the thickness of the cam lock pin. The same goes for the size of the hole for the lock nut.


Drilling Center Pin Hole to Modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture

Step 6 - Reattach new pieces with cam lock assembly

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of this step but you shouldn't have any problems following the instructions below.
  • Insert all the cam lock nuts into the holes drilled on the new MDF.
  • Rescrew the pins into the holes on the bottom of the existing shelf and base of the cabinet.
  • Line the cam pins with the new pin holes and set in place.
  • With a large flathead screwdriver, turn the cam locks to tighten the pins.

Modify Cam Lock Furniture With New Shelf Assembly


Materials List

5/8-inch MDF Plywood
Power Drill
Awl or 1/8-inch Drill Bit
3/8-inch Drill Bit
1-inch Forstner Bit
Carpenter Square
Large Flat Head Screwdriver

SHOP the items above without a link in my Interior Frugalista Shop on Amazon.


I hope this tutorial has inspired you to make those modifications you've been wanting to add to your Cam lock nut and pin assembled furniture. Even better, I hope it has encouraged you not to walk away from furniture you see in thrift stores, garage sales, or auctions that have a cam lock nut assembly.

If you know anyone who might benefit from this tutorial please share it with a friend and/or save it on Pinterest for future reference.
How To Modify Cam Lock Nut Furniture Tutorial
  
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