The Frustrations of DIY – part 73, self-assembly furniture

Wednesday 29th October

Why is it that almost every job has to be done twice, or even three times – and still it doesn’t really work.  So many things that you buy have to be assembled, put together, pieces to be attached or clicked together or even glued, and this is not for our convenience – oh no, this is completely for the convenience of the manufacturer.  There is no reason at all why things cannot be sold already made, or at least all the little bits attached to each other, except for one important factor  – the packaging.  It is all costed in, the smaller the packaging, the less initial cost of cardboard or Perspex and the larger quantity that can be shipped in a container from China or wherever, so the lower the cost for the manufacturer.  The only exception to this is of course toys, where the bigger the box the more they can charge for the few moulded bits of plastic inside.  But the frustration doesn’t stop there of course because toy manufacturers almost always have at least half the toy displayed through a clear plastic bit of packaging and you must admit they look perfect, this is because they are clipped, tied, stapled, even sewn into the packaging so that while your loved little ones are screaming for their Barbie or Peppa Pig you are struggling to undo wires, unpick stitches and even find the tinest screwdriver to undo minute screws (and batteries are never included).

And why can the pre-drilled holes not be in the correct places; so often at least one piece of self-assembly furniture simply has the screw holes in the wrong place.  And too many pieces look the same and so are easily muddled.  There are ten different size screws and the most important job is to line them up and count them so that you can hopefully identify the correct screw 16 pages on when you are asked for J/1028/PE64.  Why oh why can they not also stick little stickers on the various bits of mdf “front, back, left side” etc.  Or would that be too much to ask.  So as a consequence of making life easier and cheaper for the manufacturer we all live with bodged cupboards, wonky wardrobes, tacky tables and collapsing chairs.  I am fairly confident that Mr. Chippendale did not deliver his furniture in a cardboard box with instruction in sixteen languages and none of them discernible as English and requiring two screwdrivers (flat and Phillips) a drill, a hammer and a brain the size of ten blue whales to assemble it.