Monday, November 9, 2009

Assembly Required

Since Boyfriend moved in with me last December, I’ve been considering additional storage in the bathroom – either a shelf or a cabinet for behind the toilet, or a larger built in mirrored medicine cabinet with lights, like those sized for a double vanity sink. My preference is the built-in medicine cabinet mirror setup, because the storage would be plentiful and the added mirrors would reflect natural light from the window and eliminate some of the jockeying for position when we are both in there brushing our teeth, grooming or primping.

Unfortunately, the double wide cabinet setup requires cutting into the wall which means a carpenter, and the lighting requires someone with a clue about electrical work – say, an electrician. And those both mean money. My network is comprised of artists, not tradesmen, and the budget leaves no room for hiring professionals. Consequently, the storage issue has remained firmly lodged at the bottom of the “stuff to do at the house” list. The fact that I avoid shopping unless absolutely necessary means I have not even looked at any storage options in a store. Until now.

After a routine Sunday trip to the trash station, Boyfriend suggested we stop at Lowe’s for a new chain for the chain saw. While there, I remembered the bathroom storage, which had us traipsing all over the store. We finally found them, and after some discussion of the merits of chrome shelving (modern and cool looking, but open shelves mean having to look at the stuff all the time) versus wood with doors (close the doors, hide the crap), the “Cottage White Space Saver” with doors won.

At the register, I had the panic of opening my wallet and discovering my drivers license and bankcard missing. Errrr. I had transferred them from my wallet to the pocket of my jacket the night before, which meant they were hanging in a closet at home. Thank goodness my charge card was not where it belonged (in its secret hiding place at home to avoid frivolous usage) and was lounging in my wallet, ready for action. Crisis averted. I could have my $99 cabinet.

I decided to assemble it while Boyfriend studied, calling upon my previous triumphs with home furniture assembly. My construction resume includes a metal baker’s rack, a small bookcase, two six-foot library bookcases with doors and a matching TV stand with doors. A bathroom etagere should be a breeze.

At 2:00 I opened the box, inventoried the parts and read the instructions. The 52-page instruction booked was a bit daunting, but only the first 17 pages are English, and the rest comprise the bonus foreign language self-study programs – Francais et Espanol. On Page 4, under “Preparation,” it notes an “Estimated Assembly Time: 45 minutes (We recommend two people for assembly).”

The parts inventory revealed a challenge not encountered in previous assembly endeavors. The instructions featured 20 different types of metal parts (AA through TT in the booklet) and 12 wood parts (A through L). And I use the term ‘wood’ loosely – there were 11 pieces of genuine imitation wood-look glit (scientific elements are glue and sh*t) and one piece of cardboard scored to look like beadboard. And the problem? Although nicely depicted and labeled in the instruction booklet, none of the parts had labels. Thank goodness for detailed illustrations and God bless the artist(s) who create them.

The instructions had a bit of an issue – Step 16 describes attaching the hinges to the doors. Step 17 covers attaching the mounting brackets to the cabinet interior. Step 18 is the affixing of the knobs to the doors. Step 19 is installation of the completed unit around the toilet. Unfortunately, there is no step for attaching the doors hinges to the brackets in the unit. Oops. Good luck figuring that step out yourselves, kids. Which, incidentally, took about 30 minutes of focused effort and adjustments to the alignment. So much for that helpful time estimate on Page 4.

Some five hours later, I was newly, intimately acquainted with cams and cambolts, hardware not encountered in past projects. The toolbox is graced with 17 extra finish nails and two brass screws. The bathroom boasted a new etagere, assembled and installed, but absent piece “E.” Important note: This was clearly NOT a 45 minute operation by any stretch of the imagination, but neither was it a solid five hours of labor – I also cooked dinner (pork tenderloin with peach/strawberry/ginger glaze and cornbread stuffing with almonds and cranberries) and we ate and cleaned up the dishes. I nurtured my social networks (a.k.a. goofed off on Facebook) and made multiple plays in my multiple online Scrabble and Lexulous word games. I burned The White Stripes album ‘Conquest’ to my iTunes library.

And piece “E”? Well, it’s the bottom support, the final piece in the installation, the piece that stabilizes the legs and keeps them from spreading apart under the weight of the top portion. And it exists – it’s in the bathroom closet right now – there’s just no way on earth to install it. The instructions leave it as the last piece for some very good reasons. For one thing, the wood (glit), while only a half-inch think, is too thick to fit between the wall and the back of the toilet tank, which in my bathroom is a measly and miraculous not quite ¼ inch of clearance. The height of the support can be adjusted to accommodate the plumbing connections, which is easier to determine once in place. The problem? The slat requires two screws on each side – long, two-inch screws – and there is barely a half inch clearance between the unit and the wall on one side, and the sink cabinet on the other. Not happening. But at least the legs can’t spread very far should they decide to wander.

No comments:

Post a Comment