When “some assembly” is required


“Assembly required” can mean fasten with two screws, or devote three days to figuring out what the instructions mean, or anywhere in between. Some of us can handle this undaunted. For others it is a terrifying task. Perhaps this will help, based on years of assembling on my own:

1. Pick a time when no deadline is looming. If things get difficult you will need to be able to walk away from it for a while. (Christmas Eve is a really BAD time to be assembling things!) 

2. Read the instructions all the way through. If there is an instruction video, watch it. (If there is a video this means that LOTS of assembly is required.)

3. Check the parts against the parts list. Set them out in a container from which they cannot escape, preferably on a surface that will not be needed in the near future. The kitchen table is probably not the best idea, unless it is the only option.

4. Assemble the tools the instructions say that you will need. Items that you may need even if they are not listed: flashlight for finding things that fall into dark corners; bandana for wiping sweat; adjustable wrench to use when the others won’t fit, and a hammer (trust me).

5. Follow the instructions, one step at a time, in the order given – this last is important.

6. When the parts, bolts, or screws stick, or otherwise won’t fit, jiggle them gently first. Make sure that you have everything the right way round. (I once tried to put the left arm on the right side of an office chair… and wondered why it wouldn’t fit.)

7. If they still stick, won’t fit, or you get otherwise frustrated, TAKE A BREAK. Get away from your project. Make a phone call, take a walk, get a cup of coffee, but STOP working on it until you have calmed down, maybe even until tomorrow. Or next week (remember item #1).

8. Use a hammer only very cautiously if at all, but sometimes it is needed, even when the instructions don’t say so.

9. Don’t give up too soon. Something that seems too difficult one day may submit easily tomorrow, and knowing that you finished it without having to ask your neighborhood Mr/Mrs. Fixit for help feels GREAT! Although it is really nice to know s/he is there if needed.

10. Congratulate yourself! You did it!



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