Episode #6: CONSTRUCTION INSTRUCTIONS
by Sarit Catz
I’ve done it, you’ve done it. We’ve all seen furnishings in catalogues, on the internet, and especially at IKEA, that look great. THEN YOU BUY IT. But when it arrives, what you actually get is a box that’s 7 feet long, 4 feet wide and 5 inches high filled with 30 pre-finished pieces and a bag of loose hardware. Plus some “instructions” with no actual usable instruction; either they’re in a foreign language, broken English or the international language of undecipherable pictures.
Have no fear. Your usable instructions are below. I promise that you can assemble a shelving unit, a patio table, a shoe rack…..Trust me. I’ve been there, I’ve done it. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.... 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15.
1. Lay out your own tools. Even though the store/catalogue/website/box clearly states that everything you need is included, invariably it’s not. So have your own set of screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, etc. handy. Often super useful is an electric drill with an allen wrench bit. (Why do they have to use allen screws? Why can’t they use regular screws? And you know that annoying little L-shaped allen wrench that comes in the box is going to bend, break, mysteriously disappear, or at least cripple your hand.)
2. Empty the box. Open the box and take EVERYTHING out. Inevitably, that one thing you accidentally left inside will be the single most important piece of the item but you won’t realize it’s missing until you’ve worked on the damn thing for about three hours.(Take it from me gals, this is oh-so-painfully true-the editor)
3.Read the instructions. That’s assuming there are any actual words on them. What makes the geniuses putting these packages together think a couple of letters and a few arrows are going to tell us everything we need to know?
4. Ask a pre-schooler to help you. A couple of letters and few arrows are right up their alley. Besides, spending a couple of minutes with a small child is going to annoy you so much that assembling this piece is going to seem relaxing. Send the kid away now
5. Make sure you have all the parts. Check the actual contents of the box against the list/pictures. There’s no point in getting almost all the way through before realizing you don’t have the back/bottom/side.
6. If all else fails, have a glass of wine. A can-do attitude is the key to any successful project. So, before you even open the box, it’s imperative to put yourself in the right frame of mind with a nice calming chianti, merlot or pinot grigio. (Feel free to substitute your favorite variety – remember my #1 rule: if you like it, it works!)
7. Take a deep breath. Remember how great your piece looked in the store/catalog/website. Remember that you have all the tools, pieces and skill you need to successfully complete this project. Remember that there’s more wine in that bottle.
Now that you’re mentally prepared, here’s my advice for actually putting your project together:
First, carry (or get HIM to carry) your box to the location where you plan to have the item once it’s assembled! This is very important. Otherwise, you may have to call someone to help you move your project. You have to get it to the bedroom/living room/den. And who knows if it really fits up the stairs/through the door?!! If not, oh my gosh, you’ll have to disassemble and begin again. Now that’s what I call a true disaster.
Next, put “Piece A” up against “Piece B” and attach with one of the “Screws.” According to the ancient Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Or packing the car. One or the other.)
Realize it’s not as bad as you feared. Actually, it is, but the wine is starting to kick in. No, seriously, it’s not so hard. Remember, if all the other yutzes who bought this 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle could manage to put it together, you sure can.
Keep going. According to another Chinese proverb, “Persistence can grind an iron beam down into a needle.” Those Chinese know stuff, don’t they? They must get a ton of furniture at IKEA!
Inspect your work. See how it’s coming together? You’re doing a great job. You’ve got most of the pieces put together and you still have enough of those screws…Where are those screws? What did you do with those screws?!! Oh, they’re under the instructions. Okay.
Finish up. This is it. You’re almost done. Just one more piece… Kind of like feeding a kid, isn’t it?
Admire your handywork. You’re done! Yay for you! Take a step back. Bask in the glow of your accomplishment. Is it a little crooked? No. It’s fine. And even if it is listing to the left a tiny little bit, you’ll be so happy with your accomplishment, you won’t even care. Take it from one who knows.
Honestly, I’m just having a little fun. With a little patience and the right tools, you can assemble almost any item. I know you have the tools because you read my toolbox column. You did read my column, didn’t you? Don’t tell me you didn’t read my column! Alright, maybe I need to calm down. Which leads me to my second point: relax. These things can in fact be put together… Just not in 30 minutes by one person as the box claims.