I am trying to disassemble an IKEA desk, and need to get the cam locks off and out to take the desk apart. The issue is not prying them out, it's turning them to get them unlocked.

Most of them turned 180 degrees smoothly, from locked to unlocked, as they should.

There are only 2 cam locks left in the desk that just won't turn at all. Something is resisting the turn completely, it's jammed.

I used a Phillip's head and a flat head screwdriver, put in as much strength as possible, tried manouvering the boards (that the locks keep together) to get the bolts into a better position? Even tried an impact screwdriver, but stopped that quickly, as something was still resiting the motion.

As you can see I got desperate, now I'm out of ideas for how to unlock these cam locks. Any suggestions?

  • 2
    Some of them "over"cam into a locked position - just apply more force - works for me either it comes undone or it breaks : either way I win...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 11:18
  • I agree with Solar Mike 100%
    – Ack
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


Basically apply more force.

They may break, depending how jammed they are - they are cheap zinc castings most of the time. The screws they connect to are usually steel so they are likely to survive, and you can get replacement cams (or join the "my knockdown furniture is missing a few cams" club, which is large and not exclusive.)

You might try the trick of tightening them slightly before going back to loosening them, sometimes that will help.

If you have a ratchet or wrench that you can apply to your screwdriver you can get a lot more force via leverage (helpful, though things may break) without the impact. If the impact is your best tool to apply more force, then use it. Square shaft screwdrivers can have a wrench directly applied, screwdriver bits can be inserted in the appropriate size socket for use with a a ratchet.

  • I second this. Also, a quick impact might be the best to both free it and reduce the damage. Either by hand or using a tool. Give it a quick force and stop without a lot of follow through that will do damage after the cam does turn
    – Ack
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 18:23
  • 1
    Essentially, this wasn't easy and took a while, but it did do the trick. One of them unlocked basically immediately after the tighten-untighten trick, the other took much longer. But thanks very much!
    – Liliana
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 11:03

Mine was jammed because I unscrewed it too much: you have to unscrew 180° from fully screwed in (so completely unscrewing it doesn't work, you only do partway).

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