The joys of flat-pack furniture, the sense of achievement of almost building it yourself they say.
That sinking feeling when I know I will spend more time than necessary turning the plans this way and that, counting screws and washers, losing some special tool and arguing with the husband about who knows best. Or worse, having to travel 30 miles or so to complain about a missing screw and find they have a whole department dedicated to missing screws, and some smiling assistant produces what you are missing like a magician pulling a playing card from up his sleeve.
I have put shelves in upside down, back to front, missed vital steps and found pieces left over that don’t seem to fit anywhere. The joy of finishing that bathroom cabinet dashed because the hinge was on the wrong side (yes it was an option much earlier on that got skipped over), the delight at a bookshelf finished and finding one of the shelves has a raw edge (that awful MDF) on the front instead of hidden away at the back. Searching frantically one-handed for something to rest the wobbly shelf on while you search for the screw you just dropped on the floor.
Been there, done that.
At the beginning of last winter, we bought a metal-framed thingy for holding logs steady while you chainsawed big bits into small bits. I think there were, at most, 10 pieces in the box and a handful of nuts and bolts, but with only the picture on the front of the box to assemble it by. And yes, we managed to put it together wrong and had to spend half a day dis-assembling it, with blood pressure mounting by the minute.
Yes, self-assembly makes furniture affordable, and to be honest getting that flat-packed table into the car is easier than grappling with it assembled and finding it won’t go in, not even with the boot open.
But the other side of this is that it is often flimsy and won’t withstand the rigours of modern life. They aren’t constructed to last for a lifetime, as had been the case in our parents’ youth when you bought a dining set for THAT room and it never got moved on to somewhere it might not fit perhaps.
I wonder if you have to have a certain type of brain for this self-assembly lark, where you can picture it at each stage of the journey to completion. Or a latent carpenter. Or a Swedish speaking construction worker!