It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Assembly Required

Those words should strike absolute terror in everyone's inmost being.  They are scary and I have a new appreciation for them.  Here's why:

First - a little background.  At the International Quilt Festival in late October I purchased a new 4-needle embroidery machine.  I've made other big purchases at the Festival over the years and always got good deals.  I had bought another single-needle machine a few years ago from a local dealer.  It is a piece of junk and I'm not ashamed to say it is a Bernina and was costly.  I paid for the name.  After fighting with this machine and putting it in the dealer's shop several times I decided it was time to move on. (Just to note I lowered the machine down into its cabinet and plan to take it to another dealer at some point in time to see if I can get resolution with the bobbin problem.  For now it is out of the way and out of my sight). 

Anyway, I purchased an Elna 4-needle embroidery machine.  My mother had an Elna and I have several and they are great machines.  Even now that the company is owned by Janome they still offer well made machines with exceptional features.  The machine came with a nice sturdy cabinet designed specifically for the Elna and Janome machine.  Both the machine and the cabinet were shipped within two weeks to me and by coincidence I was just coming home when both were delivered on the same day. 
I had assumed that the cabinet came assembled, not "assembly required".  It never occurred to me to ask about the cabinet's arrival status when I purchased the duo.  I had bought two other cabinets from the Festival and they both were rolled into the house, completely assembled and ready for the machine to be put in place.  Imagine my surprise when these four boxes were hauled into my house!  Since it was just a week or so before Thanksgiving I knew that they would have to remain untouched.  With some difficulty I managed to get each box into the garage and stored away for the holidays.  Each box was marked with the weight - between 40 and 50 pounds each, something I did not need to see as I wrestled them out the door.

One rainy Saturday morning in January I enlisted the fifth grader to help me.  He is good at putting things together (Lego's gave him lots of practice!) and it was something for us to do together.  We hauled the boxes in the house and opened them up.  Of course, the instructions were in the last box.  Now, I've put things like this together before and I knew that the odds were 50-50 that it would be easy or difficult.  Let's just say it was completely difficult.  We quickly realized that the instructions were worthless other than to serve as a guide to what came next.  Through trial and error and guessing at which part was which we got it started.

By the time he left we had made fairly good progress.  Later that afternoon I decided that I needed to get after it again and try to finish it up.  I managed to get the large rollers screwed firmly into the bottom and then realized that I would have to flip the thing over onto its side and then again to get it upright.  No problem, I thought.  Just take it slow and easy.  It is heavy, but just take it slow.  Right.  It went slow until it was almost to the floor on the first flip.  Then the weight of the cabinet threw it down to the floor.  Right onto my left foot, right across the big toe.  Lift the thing up, retrieve the foot, sit down, hold foot and imagine explaining this in the emergency room.  Pain upon pain. Assembly required also meant the possibility of being lame for the rest of my life. Sometime later I finished flipping the cabinet into the upright position while keeping what was left of my feet well out of the way and rolled it down the hallway to the sewing room.

At that point it sat for a while because time just didn't permit me to finish.  But the thought of using the new embroidery machine spurred me on and little by little I kept adding pieces, all without much help from the instructions.  I managed to jockey the top in place and hammer it down with a rubber mallet as it was not going to just drop down onto those pegs and funny looking screws that lock down.  I got the thread drawer together fairly easily and with some maneuvering got it to roll in place.
The real challenge came with the lower three drawers.  Only a few of the pieces were marked and the instructions weren't clear.  Each drawer had eight screws.  I'm not sure how many times I unscrewed them and rearrange parts.  I spent hours and hours working on these drawers.  I analyzed the side bars and how they worked on the rails.  I thought I had it figured out and then no, it was not right.  Through the process of elimination I got them together as shown.  The part that stumped me was how to attach the front panel where the handles went.  The bolts included were too short.  I also had six screws for each drawer and six holes on the drawer, but none to match on the front panel.  The instructions just said to attach the panel and install the handles.  Right. So until I could go to Home Depot and find the right bolts to attach the handles I decided that the cabinet was together enough to receive the machine.

In the process of unpacking the machine I thoughtlessly laid aside most of the parts to assemble to machine's thread stand and hoop holder.  Then, I couldn't find them and thought they were excluded from the box (I later found them under a quilt top).  When I pulled up the dealer's web site to get their contact information I saw the cabinet.  Yes, it is listed as weighing 200 pounds, but my foot already knew that!  The description also stated that it had assembly instructions included as well as the manufacturer's helpful help line number.  I flipped through the instruction book and there was no helpful help line number, there was no website, and no contact information.  Hmmm, I could see why they wouldn't want talk to anyone struggling with this thing. 

So I pulled up the manufacturer's website and searched for this cabinet.  There it was and, oh my, they had instructional videos for the assembly! Well, better late than never I thought.  As I watched them I realized why I was having problems with the final step of the drawer.
The last video explained how to assemble the drawers.  Oh, how I needed to see that before I started!  And, it solved the problem of how to attach the front panels -  you don't use the bolts in the parts package - you use the ones that are taped to the outside of one of the boxes!  See that little yellow tag in the picture above?  It explains it all, but I had not seen the little packet taped to the side of the box (fortunately I had not put the boxes into the recycling bin yet!).  I had the drawers finished up in no time. 

And, the video also showed the lady that was putting the cabinet together using a drill to screw in all the screws.  A drill!  I never even thought about going out to the garage and getting the cordless drill out!  Oh my poor aching fingers, I could have spared you the pain. 

Assembly required - assembly completed!  It was finally together and the machine ready to turn on!


  1. You clearly love to embroider or other such feats requiring a needle and thread because this was an awesome task! Good work!

    1. Well, I do love monograms and other embroidered touches, but in this case it was just my stubbornness and determination that took control. Perseverance comes to mind, too!

  2. MERCY!! That looked impossible!! I cant believe you got it together!! Congratulations!!! Enjoy it!!!!

    1. Thank you, so far I'm loving this machine!