I put in the front panel of the cabinet upside down. The screws it uses are some kind of cam locks, but the locks are attached to the drawer face and were not put in by me. I've not really seen them used before and I can't find any help online. I need to know how to take it apart so I can fix it!

Drawer fastener pic

  • 1
    Usually they un-screw. Righty-tighty, lefty-loosy. You should be able to loosen it by un-screwing left, the philips socket you see. A cam lock will only turn so far before it comes to a stop and the boards will come loose and apart.
    – Jeff Cates
    Mar 18, 2019 at 23:17
  • They do unscrew, but, then they still are stuck together.
    – Erica
    Mar 20, 2019 at 19:57
  • Did you add glue when assembling? If not, the dowel rod might be tight and holding it together. Unscrew one side of the drawer a pull a little harder.
    – Jeff Cates
    Mar 21, 2019 at 15:33
  • 1
    To quote the great philosopher Happy Gilmore, "Just tap it [out]". But in all seriousness undo the camlack (lefty-loosey_ and if it is still jammed gently tap it out.
    – J Crosby
    Aug 6, 2019 at 22:32

3 Answers 3


I have had and solved this problem. There are three wood dowels on each side between those cam lock screws. You must cut them. When you do, you will be able to tilt the side piece in order to extract the screws. I did not feel like getting out my multittool for such a small job, so I used a sharp bread knife. The dowels are not even 1/4" so you will have no problem. To reassemble, I would recommend that you first insert blind nails into each dowel for stability. I suppose you could also try drilling out the dowels and replacing them, but that seems like overkill.

  • 1
    If they haqve been glued then you need to cut them, but if they have NOT been glued then they come out easy with no need for cutting. Once cut you have to source new ones otherwise the structural integrity is compromised... well what there is...
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 12, 2019 at 5:59
  • Hi Solar Mike- have you actually assembled and disassembled this exact unit? I have, and I assure you that you will never remove these cam lock screws with the dowels in place, glue or no glue. I just dealt with the same situation that Erica describes yesterday. As to structural integrity and the need to drill out and replace the dowels, that is a judgment call. Given the support provided by the two cam locks and that this connection does not bear much force installed on the slides, I am confident 3 blind nails will suffice. If you ever run into this situation yourself, YMMV
    – MichelleP
    Sep 12, 2019 at 10:19
  • 1
    Those cam lock screws and that method of fixing is used by IKEA on many of their products and I have assembled, dis-assembled and then re-assembled many IKEA products both with, and without, the instructions : RTFM is good practice though...
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 12, 2019 at 10:49
  • 4
    Hi again Mike. I have probably assembled 50 or more different IKEA items. I am very familiar with the typical cam lock and nut assembly. This is not that, which is why the OP experienced difficulty. If you have not encountered this particular product, you are not on safe ground generalizing from other products. Again: this cam lock - unique to this product thus far in my non-trivial experience - cannot be removed from it's arc-shaped hole without the ability to move the panel back and forth, an ability which can only be obtained by cutting the dowels. Trust me on this.
    – MichelleP
    Sep 12, 2019 at 11:28
  • 1
    Why is it necessary to be able to tilt the panel to remove the cam screws? It seems like if you can assemble the pieces with the dowels intact, you should be able to disassemble it by just reversing that same process. Sep 13, 2019 at 22:33

According to the IKEA instructions here, that side piece gets inserted then the cam lock thing is turned clockwise to lock it in place. I assume that removal would be the reverse - turn the screw counterclockwise. Start trying to pull it apart as you turn because the assembler may not have turned it all the way.

Demogorgon instructions

  • @Kris, you are correct. Edited. I have assembled a lot of IKEA, but not this fastener in particular.
    – JPhi1618
    Mar 18, 2019 at 20:37
  • Thanks, but I've loosened them and the boards still won't separate. I'm pretty sure I turned right all the way. They are just stuck there. Any more ideas?
    – Erica
    Mar 20, 2019 at 19:56
  • That mushroom looking head on the stud that gets inserted could get stuck on a lip inside the fastener. Try to pull and wiggle. You might also try to tighten and loosen the screw again to work it loose.
    – JPhi1618
    Mar 20, 2019 at 20:00
  • @Erica turning right engaged the cam lock turn left to disengage
    – Kris
    Mar 20, 2019 at 21:36
  • As mentioned, left to disengage but if you turn too far left you could jam the cam on the stud. It is finicky. Once cams are disengaged you should be able to knock/tap the drawer face off of the studs, tap tap on one side, tap tap on the other, back and forth. Or use the wedges mentioned in Tom van der Zanden's answer.
    – Alaska Man
    Oct 26, 2020 at 18:43

I found out how to separate the drawer front from the sides without any damage or cutting the dowels.

I used a pair of small plastic wedges. Insert a wedge on either side of the metal fastener, with the tip of the wedge pointing outwards to the edge of the drawer. Push the wedges in as far as they will go, pushing the side of the drawer up. You should be able to get a gap of quite a few millimeters.

Removing the drawer front using plastic wedges

Now tilt the side of the drawer inwards (i.e., towards the thicker side of the wedges). The wedges form a fulcrum which will push the drawer side up farther, and I suspect that the tilt helps with bypassing the little ridge. The fastener then easily pops out.

  • I have just done this and can confirm the advice from this answer is correct. Tilting inwards is the key. I didn’t even need wedges but they would help. Apr 3, 2022 at 11:45

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