Monday 9 January 2006


In response to my rant about our bloody dining table, Natalie the Wise's husband was revealed to the public for long enough to explain how to deal with this flat-pack stuff properly:

A typical piece of flat pack furniture, really, assembly instructions included, requires only simple hand tools plus;

Screw thread gauges,

Needle files,

Engineer’s lathe

Blow torch

A simple brazing hearth

Sump oil.

Knowledge of model engineering, gunsmithing or similar would help.

As with so many things, it seems obvious in retrospect.

In response to that post, John Costello has emailed Natalie the following:

I work for a store which sells various forms of furniture, most of which we put together, as well as the actual packs that people can take home. ... One of my various jobs is putting toether furniture for both display and sale.


I would say that one piece out of ten or, from some manufacturers, one piece out of five, is badly manufactured. Not just mis-allignment of holes ... but very badly out-of-wack and unusable. ... Sometimes we have to cannibalize two packages to get one piece.

I had always assumed that modern quality control was so good that my experiences with flat-pack muct be bad luck. Turns out not. Nice to know the Universe isn't out to get me. Well, not on this front, at least.

It's puzzling. Electronics manufacturers have quality control these days in the region of a handful of errors per hundred thousand units; same with car part manufacturers — at least the Japanese ones. You'd think furniture would be easier: microchips and moulded aluminium bits of internal combustion engines are, after all, quite new things, while we've had thousands of years of experience at cutting wood into different shapes and sticking them together.

No, I haven't got a point. Just puzzled, is all.

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