Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ruth, the Builder

Can I build it? Yes, I can!

Today, I built--or more accurately, assembled--this little computer desk:

The desk, which fits nicely between two bookshelves in the kitchen, will hold our desktop computer, just as soon as I locate our desktop computer. For now, it is holding my clean kitchen towels until I get around to putting them away.

Assembling pre-fab furniture has become sort of a hobby for me. I enjoy putting things together, just so long as it does not require measuring, cutting, or finding any tools other than a screwdriver.

I’ve noticed a few things during my recent forays into furniture assembly. One is that the directions always appear to be a rough draft someone jotted down and no one ever looked at again. So, you end up with sentences like this, copied verbatim from my instruction sheet:

“For all the wood dowel,befor insert please pour into a little glue to the wood dowel holes.”

I can just picture the writer shrugging and saying to himself, “They’ll know what I mean.” But just in case, they also include this helpful diagram:

Another thing I have observed is that there are a number of different methods for attaching one piece of manufactured wood to another. For this one simple desk, besides the aforementioned dowels and glue, I also had cam bolts and cam locks, regular bolts with washers, as well as some basic screws.

So I was not terribly surprised to discover that I had accidentally screwed a cam bolt into a hole designed for a regular bolt. This is the sort of thing that happens when you have multiple bolts, as well as multiple small helpers.

Let’s face it, if I waited until the kids were asleep, the desk would never get put together. By the end of the day I am simply too exhausted to tackle a new project. So while I went off in search of some pliers to remove the improperly-placed cam bolt, my daughter was investigating the small, numbered plastic bags filled with various bolts, screws and washers.

When I returned, the bolts, screws and washers were spilling out of their respective plastic bags and rolling across the kitchen floor. One little helper was sticking washers onto cam bolts, while another was making cool sound effects and scratching the desk with a screwdriver.

After struggling to pry the washers off the cam bolts, I eventually got most of the desk put together. For the grand finale, I used two dowels with glue, two cam bolts and locks, and four bolts with washers to attach the desk top. Unfortunately, it was physically impossible to screw in the bolts with the allen wrench provided.

While my helpers shredded styrofoam into tiny pieces that will stick to everything in the house for weeks to come, I rooted through boxes looking for an allen wrench. Luckily I found one left over from some previous furniture assembly kit, and awkwardly attached the bolts while my son pestered me about the location of the desktop computer.

One step at a time, I explained to him. Today we built a desk.

Finding the computer is a project for another day.

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