EVERY WEEKEND MILLIONS OF people attempt to build a piece of furniture. It is the modern equivalent of riding into the Valley of Death.
Many people mistakenly assume that furniture you build yourself comes in a pack smaller than the finished item. In fact, the reverse is true. An average size bedside cabinet will fold down into a flat-pack the size of a squash court.
You then have to get this colossal flat-pack home. You can save time and your marriage by accepting from the word go that there is no angle that it will fit inside your car. At least not without you having to lie flat on the seat and drive home in reverse.
The golden rule once you’ve got it home is never to try and construct the furniture by yourself or with anyone else. For men especially, being able to single-handedly construct a piece of furniture is a clear test of masculinity right up there with parallel parking, throwing a ball and getting served at a bar. If you’re a woman and tired of your current relationship, simply pop your head around the door and say, “Shouldn’t that bit go there?”.
Fortunately, most flat-packs come with clear instructions in 17 languages. Unfortunately, none of them will be English. If you look hard enough, one set of instructions might be in English but not as we know it. For example, a critical directive might read, ‘conform the plane before bedwet’. The only way around this is to look at the pictures really, really carefully – especially the one featuring the bit you don’t have.
Thorough people who think flat-pack furniture erection is simply a matter of being careful and systematic will often lay out the pieces before they start. This is when they find that two security screw twisters are missing. There is a way of finding these two pieces, and that is to make the whole thing without having counted the pieces in the first place, and then you’ll find you have them left at the end.
You would’ve thought that a bookshelf wouldn’t have too many opportunities for construction error. If you thought that, you thought wrong. There are 17 billion different ways you can put those nine pieces together. During construction, you often get a sneaky suspicion that something is not right. At this point, most men simply press on, applying superhuman force and an increasing range of powertools from the shed. And if the vanity unit ends up as kitchen trolley, so be it.
Finally, your piece of furniture is complete. This will give you a lifetime of pleasure as long as you make sure that you don’t put any books in the case, clothes in the wardrobe, or paper on the desk.
© GUY BROWNING IS AUTHOR OF ‘NEVER PUSH WHEN IT SAYS PULL’ AND CREATOR OF ‘TORTOISE IN LOVE’ (DVD) – USED BY PERMISSION.