Misfit Monday: The Blast Cabinet from Hell

I am usually pretty good at putting together ready-to-assemble furniture and the like. I know to RTFM (“read the flippin’ manual”), and have a good sense of spatial relationships, or visualizing how things fit together. I love putting together IKEA furniture – for me, it’s fun. But the other day, I was stymied – along with my whole family.

The Blast Cabinet from Hell, minus the door

My husband is in the midst of restoring and rebuilding a classic TransAm. Part of this includes cleaning up all the parts as he removes them, to get them as close as possible to original factory condition, and a great way to do this is to sandblast ’em. This is how the guys on the History Channel show American Restoration strip the paint and grime off all those Coke machines, antique metal toys, and yes, cars, and then repaint them and make them look like new. So DH bought a blast cabinet from one of the popular online auto parts suppliers.

He was thrilled when it arrived the next day.Β Things went downhill from there.

I came home from work to find him ready to kill something – preferably, the blast cabinet. When I jumped in to help him assemble it, I quickly understood why.

The thing must’ve come with 400 nuts, bolts, washers, and other small parts, none of which were labeled.

And yes, he did RTFM – that was the first thing I asked him. This was also the first thing our daughter, who’d also been conscripted into helping, asked him. Guess what his usual MO for stuff like this is?

The worthless instructions were barely readable – most of them, anyway

But in this case, the assembly instructions weren’t much help, as they were almost unreadable, and what was legible, didn’t make sense. I suspect it was translated (and poorly) from Chinese, or some other language dissimilar to English. In many cases, it didn’t specify which way something fit together (does that screen go with this side up, or the other one?), and the pictures were even less clear than the text. My husband even emailed the retailer with a request for better instructions. Not only weren’t they any clearer, they were different than the first booklet!

The worst was when we had to match up four sets of bolt holes. Invariably, where some matched up, others didn’t, even after loosening what we’d already assembled and jockeying it around. My husband even resorted to getting out his drill and drilling a few of them larger. But we pressed on, and puzzled it out until we got most of the cabinet put together and called it a night.

The next day, I came home from work to find DH in a similar state as the day before, only this time he was muttering about what he could do with a machine gun.

We’d gone to all that trouble only to find that the door didn’t fit. One of the hinge holes was over an inch off!

The blast cabinet is being returned tomorrow, shipping at the retailer’s expense. Unfortuneately, he can’t get them to return the entire day he spent working on the darn thing, or the couple hours my daughter and I both spent helping.

He’s going to look through Craigslist to see if he can’t find a used, already-assembled one someone wants to unload.

How are you with ready-to-assemble products? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Do you RTFM as a matter of course? Got any horror stories like the above to share?

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16 Responses to \

  1. Definitely not for me. My husband (he’s an engineer) loves this sort of challenge. I used to try assembling things way back when, but now he does it or I look for something already assembled. I just can’t wrap my brain around this sort of task πŸ™‚ Good luck with finding one!

  2. Ikea furniture assembly once drove me to tears, Jennette, so the 400 small parts that came with your blast cabinet would have rusted before I stopped weeping. (One of my daughters is like you and has a good sense of spatial relationships. She looks at and then tosses the Ikea directions–and proceeds to assemble.)

    I’m guesing you’ll find an already assembled blast cabinet close to home. See, you’ve already convinced me that Dayton has everything.

    PS: The Misfit Monday title has never fit better.

  3. We have bought lots of furniture that needed assembling. And when we did, we called our son to assemble it. It’s like a giant puzzle to him and he loves it. Why spoil the fun for him?

    Don’t know how he would have done with your project, but I bet it would have driven him nuts until he figured it out (and he probably would have kept working at it to, because he doesn’t believe anything could beat him!)

    Good luck in finding your blast cabinet.

  4. Coleen, I think most people would have had trouble with this! After I wrote this post, my husband called the retailer and they said he was the third person who’d called to complain about that product this week.

    Pat, LOL! I think this thing would have had many hardy souls in tears! Hopefully you’re right about Dayton. πŸ˜€

    Stacy, it’s good to have someone in the family to put those things together! Usually both my husband and I are good at them, but this thing was so complex, and the instructions so useless, we had to give up in defeat. It went back to the retailer!

  5. We have a rule at our house. When one of us is locked in mortal combat with a piece of furniture that considers its own manual a polite suggestion, STAY THE HELL AWAY.

    One time, AJ came down to my office to hang out after I’d been banished. He never does that. On the flipside, I had problems putting together a “simple” office chair. Nita and AJ decided that was a good time to get ice cream.

    When AJ gets his own place, we are not coming over until all the furniture is assembled.

  6. LOL Jim, that sounds like a good rule! My and our daughter’s help was requested with the blast cabinet – as in, if we didn’t help, things would get grumpier. We got some put together, but it didn’t end up helping much!

  7. Too much for those technical writers who are supposed to make things easy for the layman. They call that a manual? I call it Rosetta Stone.

  8. LOL Shelley, Rosetta Stone is a great analogy! I’m usually good at deciphering this stuff, so this is really cryptic!

  9. niiiiice. Brings back some um, interesting memories from doing this. Suddenly I feel the need to swear profusely and throw something πŸ˜‰

  10. My husband is handy at assembling things, but the part that frustrates the both of us is when they want you to hold the darned thing together in six different places while you screw something into an unreachable area! We only have 2 hands and 2 feet between us and when you take hubby’s limbs away to work the drill, that leaves me short. It’s a bit like playing Twister with a power tool in the mix. Not exactly safe. It’s a good thing they took the cabinet back.

  11. DYI–are you kidding?! I can’t even open a cereal box without making a mess of it! My husband is the one who’s really good at putting things together:).

  12. LOL, Liz! There was plenty of profuse swearing when my husband was trying to put that thing together!

    Catherine, isn’t that about the truth! This one had a few of those instances, too. Even with me and our daughter helping, things weren’t lining up where they should have. Arrrrgggh!

    Maria, lucky for you he’s around! My husband and I are both usually good at assembling stuff like this, but this one was too much! It’s gone now. πŸ™‚

  13. I’m going to adopt your term RTFM from now on. So funny. I hate to RTFM most of the time, but I’m awful at putting things together, so I’m forced to read them. Usually I ask my DH to assemble things. He’s much better, with a lot of cussing whether he RTFM or not. I don’t know if it’s just his luck or what, but usually there’s a few bolts or screws missing or some extras that make you wonder if you missed something. I’m not surprised that the instructions were messed up. I don’t think the mfr. in China gives a hoot if we’re able to put their products together. There’s probably no quality control either. Good idea to check for one that’s already built and proven to do the job it’s supposed to. Good luck with it all. Sheesh! And double sheesh!

  14. LOL Lynn – “RTFM” is an old computer term! But it does help – usually! Thanks for stopping by!

  15. I’m really bad with furniture, but I’m good with cars. I know that’s strange for a girl, but that’s just how I am.

  16. Gina, it’s not strange you’re into cars (very cool, IMO!) but funny that you can work on them but not furniture! πŸ˜€ Thanks for stopping by!