Thursday, January 01, 2009

Building up to 2009

Here's a good sane totally not crazy interesting way to spend New Year's Day morning. Earlyish. Put together an IKEA Benno CD tower. Beech veneer finish. Seriously.

We have more CDs, DVDs, videos, and now Nintendo DS games than will fit in our existing media bookshelf in our dining room. And since Santa brought the girls more, I knew it was time to expand the storage. There isn't room for another bookshelf, but I thought I could transfer the CDs from the top few shelves of the bookshelf to a CD tower and then move all the DVDs and videos from the TV stand onto the bookshelf and tidy up the look of the living room. So New Year's Eve day, we went off to IKEA to buy the tower.

The girls and I went next door to Connie's for New Year's Eve and had a great time. The girls actually stayed awake until midnight, no doubt due to playing video games and air hockey with Connie's daughters. We wended our sleepy way home about 2:15. I was wide awake at 8 a.m. January 1st, 2009. The girls were sleeping. What should I do with this child-free time?

I brewed some coffee and looked at the six and a half foot long box leaning up against the wall. Yes. I felt up to it. I slid the box to the middle of the living room and opened it. Lots of pressboard, a little plastic baggie of hardware, and an instruction sheet with no words on it, just pictures. I realize that IKEA has its instructions this way for a couple of reasons: clarity, and so that customers from Ottawa to Sao Paulo to Minsk can all be equally confused guided by the drawings of the smug little guy putting the furniture in question together. To be fair, they are usually clear, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm putting something together by playing Simon Says with printed characters. But I digress.

I fetched my toolbox from the basement and, after looking at the tool pictures in the instruction booklet, pulled out a slot screwdriver, a Robertson screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver (because without my glasses I couldn't tell from the picture whether one of the screwdrivers had a cross-shaped or a square head), and a hammer. It didn't tell me I'd need a hacksaw, but that part of the story comes later.

The first part of the build went pretty well. I poured a mug of coffee and put Who's Next on the CD player. There's something wrong with my CD player at the moment -- the instrumental tracks play loudly and clearly, but the vocals sound weak and echoey and distant. So I pushed little wooden dowels into the appropriate holes and listened to Roger Daltrey sounding far and wee, which was kind of appropriate, since I felt a little far and wee myself after an unusually large number of beers consumed the night before.

I got to the last hole that needed a little dowel peg and reached for the last peg on the coffee table, and there wasn't one. I checked the floor. I checked under the box, under the couch and all around. No peg. OK. Let's think about this. I figured I had three choices: 1) Stop what I was doing and wait til Jan 2nd and go back to IKEA for the missing part. 2) Build it without that particular dowel -- it was holding the top together, would not be weight bearing, and the sides are held together by screws as well as the dowel pegs. 3) Try to find something else to use for a dowel peg. I dismissed 1) out of hand. I didn't want to spend 24 hours stepping over a partially assembled CD tower in the middle of my living room. Number 2) didn't appeal either, because I figured the dowel peg was supposed to be there for a reason. Which left 3).

I pulled one of the other pegs back out of the hole and looked at it. Hmm, about the same diameter as a pencil. I took the peg, and the only pencil I could find in the kitchen, and got the teeny, tiny hacksaw out of my toolbox. I sawed a piece of pencil the same length as the peg, and Bob's your uncle, I had a workable substitute. About this point I turned off the CD. When Daltrey's opening howl on Won't Get Fooled Again sounds like a constipated hamster, it's time to shut it down.

Once I had the sides, top and bottom together with these strange corkscrew-shaped thingies that catch onto the heads of screws already put in at 90 degree angles (don't you love it when I talk all technical? Mag Ruffman ain't got nothing on me), it was time to slide the thin, flexible back piece down the grooves at the backs of the side pieces. A glance at the handy dandy instructions showed a disembodied hand marking the position of the cross brace on the backs of the side pieces with a pencil, so that once the back piece has been slid into place, you know the position of the cross brace so that you can nail the back piece into the cross brace. Makes sense, I mused, walking into the kitchen for a pencil, only to realize that I had hacksawed the point off the last pencil in the house in order to construct a dowel peg. Damn. Well, there was enough of the pointy part left to scratch a couple of lines in the correct places, and Leah got up in time to help me fit the shelves in the now-standing unit, and rearrange our stuff.

I neglected to take a before picture, but here's what it looks like now, all organized and alphabetized and new and shiny and New Year's Day-ish.


And it's not a bad metaphor for what I want to accomplish for 2009. I would like to get the parts of my life as clear and organized as my CDs. Without having to saw up any metaphorical pencils.

19 comments:

  1. Very smart fix to a problem that would have had me cursing and stomping around in a huff.

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  2. Well done - and good fix!

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  3. I thought I was the only one that hated those IKEA instructions!

    Happy New Year!

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  4. Life without metaphorical missing dowel bits would be really boring and that ain't you. Your life is always the one with the hacksawed pencil and you should be proud.

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  5. Hahaha! What a great story! How creative you are. It could have happened to me. Best wishes for 2009!

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  6. it's perfect! just perfect ... ms fixit.

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  7. That looks smashing. So, the next time I buy Ikea, you'll come over and put it together for me?

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  8. I refuse to assemble any Ikea stuff because I get too frustrated. But perhaps beer is the answer. In fact, they should put it on one of the instructional bits. Some asexual bonhomme have a cold one or two or three.

    Also I would have gone with solution 2. Good choice for tunage. BTW. Too bad about Daltrey and the hamster.

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  9. You will never see a Robertson screw in an IKEA package - it's a Canadian thing and would confuse the rest of the world :)

    I would've skipped the last dowel, but I live on the *edge*.

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  10. What on Earth is a Robertston Screwdriver?

    Good assembly job! Personally I love putting things like that together. Must drive my husband nuts because I would rather do it myself than wait for him to. Must be all those years I spent growing up just me and my mother. No men required for most projects and I'm usually intent on proving that point!

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  11. I'm just impressed that you were up at 8:00 on New Years Day. I was exhausted all day and would never have tried to put something together.

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  12. You've either assembled a shelving unit by yourself...or you haven't. You fall into the category that makes me proud.

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  13. Benoît10:11 PM

    "the instrumental tracks play loudly and clearly, but the vocals sound weak and echoey and distant"

    You have a short in your speaker wiring (or earphone/speaker jack) between the left and right channels which creates that effect. What you are hearing is the level difference between the two channel which is actually a sort of surround sound channel created during the recording by the mikes that pick up the delayed reflected sounds inside the studio. Look up "ambiphonic" for more info on this behavior.

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  14. It's very cool...I could definitely use something similar! I wish we had an Ikea around here :-(

    And, interestingly enough, Bob IS my uncle! :-)

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  15. double check that you don't have the karaoke setting on (happened to me once until i noticed the little lit up microphone on my display)

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  16. Hey, I need one of those, perhaps since you did so well, you can come over and put mine together. We'll have beer instead of coffee. Happy New Year!

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  17. Yep, I would have gone with (2) as well... call me lazy! :)

    Happy New Year!

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  18. Catching up on my blog reading, and popping in to say hello!

    The shelf looks REALLY nice, and this made me laugh a lot: "It didn't tell me I'd need a hacksaw, but that part of the story comes later." :)

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