Monday 20 July 2009

IKEA for beginners

When I was a little wee boy I used to love making models (I'd love to make a model now, but that's a poor joke in poor taste), and spent many an hour with boxes from Airfix or Revell. My favourites were a model of the Saturn V rocket...that's the one that sent Neil Armstrong to the moon, and back, a giant Hawker Hurricane - so much better that the Spitfire I thought, a Centurian tank, and a glow in the dark Phantom of the Opera. I'm not sure I was that good at it, especially the painting bit, and surprisingly my little fingers struggled with the littler pieces. But generally I thought they looked ok and were well played with. My brother, I seem to remember used to bomb his and blow them up and burn them. We were suitably encouraged by our father who used to come home with very extravagant Japanese Tamiya ones. These were excessively complicated, came with little electric motors and should never be given to anyone under the age of 45. Like trainsets, I suspect they were more for Dad than Son.

When I grew up, my poor poor girlfriend of the time had to put up with me making model 1/18th scale model classic cars. Our domestic bliss involved me making cars and her making frocks...she was a dab hand with cotton and fabric. I built loads, and they're now all stuffed in numerous drawers, dusty and probably broken.

My building skills then progressed to Ikea furniture - and being a landlord I have become a dab-hand at putting up flat-pack furniture in no longer than it takes you to sneeze and spread your swine flu to all around you. If everything goes wrong, I feel I have a career as a cabinet maker. Of the 21st Century variety rather than the 19th century.

I hope you're still following me here.

You will recall I recently got a new Jeep. It came with a hard top, but I bought a soft top as well because I love the country breeze blowing through my hair. And now that we have summer, it has become time to put it on. I gave it about an hour perhaps ninety minutes to do.

It came in a big brown cardboard box with the instructions inside on top. We followed step one: remove hard top by removing eight bolts. We did that and lifted it into the garage. Leaving us with a topless car. Which is nice in the sun.

The we read stage two, at which point we realised there were 30 steps to complete. And the roof came in 89 parts. Yes this was a kit - designed for a dealer to fit.

And the instructions were fabulous:

"Place the lower header on the side bows. Orient the side bows with the brackets up. Install two (2) #8 x 1/2" Pan Head Washer Screws to secure the lower header to each side bow. Use a Pivot Knuckle to install the #3 Bow to the side bow/header assembly"

It probably would have helped if all the parts had been correctly labelled.

It definitely would have helped if it hadn't started to rain when there was no roof of any sort on the car. We sort of managed to get it under the garage door...with the boy pushing up with all his strength.

Six hours and many tears later(mostly mine)we had a new roof.

By this stage, I'd managed to jam the steering lock on, and no matter how much I huffed and I puffed I couldn't unlock the wheels or turn the ignition on. We called out the nice man from the AA, who jumped out of his shiny van with lots of flashing lights that woke up all the neighbours. He jumped in, yanked hard on the steering wheel and freed it up. He was here and gone in less than 30 seconds, with a glance back which said, "Tosser".

It was coming up to midnight when we sat down for supper.

And I'm pretty confident that my kit building days are over. Completely.


  1. But can you put together Ikea units? This seems child's play by comparison. Nonetheless, I'm impressed by this act of male bonding. I'd have killed my husband before 30 mins was up.

  2. For a relatively young man of 37 you had some very old fashioned hobbies.

    However, I am in no way being disparaging as I may, at some point, need some Ikea furniture assembling as my "fat bloater" like fingers aren't too useful in that department.


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