Routine Assembly

Thursday evening came around and I headed to my assembly job. 6 months into this gig gave me the knowledge and confidence to handle any type of task thrown at me. Rex had contacted me from out of state to assemble his girlfriend’s bed.

When I arrived at the scene, I organized my work space. I cleared the area to allow enough room for me to work. I unpacked the boxes and stacked like pieces together to help visualize the final product. Like the many times before, I picked up the instructions and got to work. 40 minutes into the job, I made a critical error causing me to strip a screw. Unable to correct the mistake, I had to explain to the client that I needed to come back tomorrow.

Disappointed, embarrassed, and a little panicked, I called the handiest person I knew, my dad. He suggested I research the problem on YouTube. Once home, I jumped on the computer and started my search to ‘remove a stripped hex bolt.’ The videos were plenty and I found a solution that just might work. Relieved, I shut my laptop and headed to bed.

The next morning, I re-watched the video and noted the parts that I would need from the hardware store. With my new knowledge and accompanying tools and parts, I headed back to the client.

I returned to my workspace with the half-assembled bed and various parts and pieces scattered across the room. My client slept on the couch the previous night; she was counting on me to make this work. I pulled out my hammer and, newly purchased, torx bit steel socket. Using some force, I lodged the torx bit into the stripped screw and then carefully extracted it using my drill. The screw slowly made its way out; the procedure was a success. I replaced the damaged screw with a new one and completed the job within an hour. This job humbled me and served as a reminder that I still had plenty to learn.


Haley and her father plopped down on the couch and watched me get to work. Throughout the first hour I got questions about my technique and how much longer it would take. After a tense 60 minutes, I completed the first drawer. I needed to do the same thing 5 more times.

In researching this job, I came across several resources to fix a sagging drawer bottom. The problem lies with placing too much weight in the drawer causing the bottom to get pushed out of the groove. In my furniture assembly experience, I knew I was searching for a how-to guide on building a brace for the bottom of the drawer. With my new knowledge and parts from the hardware store, I set out for the job.

Back at the client’s home, I showed Haley the newly repaired drawer; she was impressed. I explained that handyman work requires tinkering and most of the time the solution isn’t straightforward. I proposed capping my billable time at 4 hours: 1 hour for the first drawer, 30 minutes for each subsequent drawer, and 30 minutes for research. She agreed to my proposal and we shook hands to seal the deal.

Haley relaxed and told me a little bit more about herself. She flew down days earlier as her ailing father had been hospitalized. A couple of months ago, the family moved the father to an assisted living facility. After an emotional couple of weeks, Haley was just glad to have her father’s dresser fixed. Before we knew it, all 6 drawers were repaired. We said our goodbyes and wished each other the best of luck.