Thursday, April 22, 2010


I have a theory - put-together furniture isn't really that difficult. I mean, the instructions are all there, in one way or another, you just need to put on your sleuthing hat (and possibly a monocle) and do it carefully, one itty bitty step at a time. This is why, people, men hate furniture-in-a-box so much.

I proved this theory over the weekend when I put together my plush new office chair. Well, it's as plush as they come, from Officeworks, anyway. Let me say that again - I put together my plush new office chair. It mainly happened by default, because husband is minus the use of one arm at the moment, thanks to a mountain biking incident. All our other furniture that wasn't already made when we purchased it, or scrounged from somebody else, has been put together by the man of the house, after much yelling and throwing and stabbing at the instruction sheet. Not any reading of the instruction sheet, mind you, just stabbing it with a wrench or alan key thing or whatever it's called. Similarly with most electronic deivces. You don't just plug the bloody thing in and expect it to work, it requires significant and time-consuming programming or setting up or a first run to get the cobwebs off.

But a man doesn't understand that. Their DNA is structured to intuitively be good at DIY. At least, they think so. The few who are, do the behind-the-scenes work of DIY-'experts' on tv. It's a huge matter of pride to a man, to show off to their mates of both sexes how quickly and effortlessly they can put togather a tv stand or bed. Instruction manual? For wimps! If the bloody thing won't fit together the way he thinks it should, it must be broken or faulty or made in Sweden.

I'd carefully set out the squillions of little nuts and bolts and things, spread out the instruction sheet and matched up each part to the diagram. He, no doubt feeling somewhat emasculated, insisted I needed a screwdriver and marched off to the garage to find the correct one. In the meantime, I discovered a little curved thing which seemed to be part 4a and fit nicely into the bits that held the chair together. He came back proudly clutching a Phillips head (ha!) in his one good hand but his face fell and then twisted into a smirk when he saw me patiently trying to use the "allen key". Alan key? Allan key? Who's Allan?

"Here, let me!" he cried, chest puffing out ever so slightly. So I 'let' him hold the bits together while I put the other bits in, infuriatingly slowly. OK, I admit, I needed him to hold it. The parts kit should come with a few spare hands.

"Now put those into this bit - see, it'll fit!" He was getting over-excited.
"No honey, it says that those short bits have to go in there, and then those cover things over them, and then the big bit gets screwed onto the bottom. But I can do that." "Look, those just go here" - demonstrates; bit fails to fit - "stupid thing! Why did we go to Officeworks anyway!" "The instruction sheet says do it in this order. So I will."
*Cue eye-rolling and barely-supressed frustration*

Many (many) minutes later, the chair was ready. It didn't collapse when I sat on it; indeed, I'm sitting in it right now. It was all I could do to resist dong a little dance of inyourface! But I couldn't bring myself to, because the poor dear did help out, in his way. And no way do I want to tackle putting together a new desk by myself. All I said was, "the instructions make it easier, don't they dear?" to which I had a muffled grunt of a reply.

And then this email landed in my inbox - one part cute gift idea, perhaps another part suggesting that in the interests of keeping your marriages together, DIY should be lift to the craft-conscious.The tote-makers behind the adorable label Skipping Girl have just launched a DIY custom tote-making facility. Start with their templates, then customise to your heart's content, safe in the knowledge that it will be done right, done well, and totally unique! They take 4-6 weeks and cost about $190 (plus postage). A small price to pay - and no small fiddly bits.

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