June 14th, 2024

Easy-to-assemble usually isn’t

By Lethbridge Herald on February 27, 2021.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
I’m admittedly probably the last person you’d ever want to use as a handyman. I’m not good with tools, have no patience and absolutely am clueless when following instructions.
But inevitably there are times when I have to pretend I liked shop class and assemble some furniture. And for the record, I dropped shop in Grade 10 when it wasn’t mandatory.
While these occasions don’t arise very often, when they do, my entire weekend is pretty much ruined.
Years ago at my first house, I built an entertainment unit but three quarters of the way through the job, I realized I’d reversed something so the doors wouldn’t fit properly. This unit, which came from the old Consumers Distributing on 3 Avenue, turned out to be an unmitigated disaster but we used it anyway.
A few years ago, I had to assemble an IKEA kitchen island with stools. The instructions might as well have been in heiroglyphics because I was lost as soon as I saw the first word in Swedish.
This island took almost an entire day to assemble with both me and my son working on it. It was horrible.
A round kitchen table wasn’t much better that we did around the same time. Even screwing the legs onto a new sofa set wasn’t easy because of course, there had to be one that wouldn’t fit because the piece of furniture wasn’t entirely square.
Forget those “easy-to-assemble” assurances in giant print on the box or in the instruction sheets. There needs to be an asterisk with fine print adding “easy to assemble if you are a journeyman carpenter or have a week.”
I’m sure others know what I’m talking about. As a birthday gift, a neighbour bought her husband some chairs for his birthday last summer. I’m guessing that’s why he was in the garage for an entire weekend with all his tools at hand. That’s how easy some of these projects are. They’re not at all. I personally feel the “easy-to-assemble” assurances are just a way of getting unwary buyers to buy.
I’m more convinced of that than ever after two brutal projects in recent weeks. One was a bed frame which had me worried the second I opened up the instructions and there was a warning not to do it alone. Talk about intimidation.
So I convinced Dylan to help and thankfully, he knows what he’s doing because he basically put it together himself with me just holding a spare Allen key while trying not to look perpetually confused. Supposedly, this was the “easiest to assemble” frame in the store. Good thing because I’m sure engineers aren’t cheap to hire.
But as bad as that one was, Liz’ new dining room set took frustration to a whole new level. The table was easy with four legs to screw on, a job that took about 10 minutes.
The four chairs were another matter because it took 10 minutes just to figure out the first step and about 30 more on top of that to complete it.
And there were four steps in the process of building each chair. Four gruelling steps.
It took me four hours to assemble these things, taking only a brief break to walk the dogs and vent a little frustration with some fast pacing.
By the time I was finished, my nerves were frayed, my back was sore and the day was finished. I have to admit the set looks way better than the old one and it takes up less space.
But with that project done, so am I. The anti-handyman has put the tools away and is not going near any store that sells stuff needing assembly any time soon. It’s just not happening.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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