I'm not sure when exactly this occurred—I'm guessing late 70s, early 80s—when some executive somewhere got the bright idea that everybody, at one point in their lives, maybe multiple times in their lives, wanted to experience what it's like to make furniture. I'm guessing that through extensive R & D it came to light that it wasn't the fussy or complicated steps like measuring, cutting, drilling or finishing that where popular, but the actual steps of assembly; the fitting of small wooden dowels, the driving of screws and twisting of fasteners that people wanted to experience.
Or perhaps it wasn't the actual experience of assembly that people wanted
but the thought of buying what looked to be expensive furniture at a
moderately expensive price for furniture made almost extensively from
pressed particle board (which does this hideous expansion number on you if
it comes anywhere near water) thinking they're saving money. Lord
knows that's probably what my Mom thought during the mid-80s on her
furniture buying spree. It certainly couldn't have been the thrill of
assembly since that thrill was
left to forced on me. Countless
shelves, a bed/shelf unit, a desk, and two dressers were among the items of
furniture I “hand made” for Mom.
Thrills-a-minute, let me tell you.
It was more of the same today when I found Spring in the Kids' room in the midst of wood laminate particle boards, wooden slats, screws, wierd looking fasteners that you'll never find in any hardware or home self-improvement store and enough headboards to make what looked like two single beds. “I'm trying to puzzle this out,” she said. “The only instructions that came with it were in Chinese.”
“No,” she said. “Chinese. And I'm trying to figure out where everything goes.”
“There must be at least illustrations, right?”
“Ah.” Not good at all.
After a brief interlude where I dropped the Kids off at the Charles Dickens After School Center, Spring and I resumed our forays into the wonderful world of Furniture Assembly—Bunk Bed Edition!
Rough placement of pieces on the floor. Discussions of what piece goes where and what possible function it could provide. The puzzlement over some apparent missing drill holes. And several mis-matched bolts. And non-illustrated directions in Chinese.
Time passes. We had most of the bunk bed assembled when Spring's cordless power drill (being used to drive screws) started straining as its battery slowly died. We were then faced with the prospect of hand driving in some 48 screws to fasten down the slats to support the mattresses. Not looking forward to that, I borrowed a power drill from one of our neighbors. Spring was able to get the Philip's head bit into the drill, but it proved to be too awkward to use so close to the bed frame. So I took the bit out, and attempted to put in a bit extention.
Only the drill wouldn't tighten up.
Great! I thought. I broke the neighbor's drill! “XXXX!” I said. “I think I owe the neighbor a new drill.”
“I can't tighten the drill.”
Spring came over, took the drill and attempted to tighten it. “Yup, looks like it's broken.” She handed it back to me.
“I'll go return this and inform them I'll be buying them a new drill,” I said. Spring went to work hand driving the screws in.
Some twenty minutes later I returned. The neighbor took the now non-tightening drill (it still spun under power but unless you jam a particularly large bit into it, it won't be of much use) in stride, saying it was very old, needed replacing anyway and that her parents could get her a new one, since her father always brought his drill over when he needed to do home repair at her place.
That was some good news.
But the bad news was having to drive in 48 screws by hand.