The box was pretty easy to unpack, but I knew there was trouble when I saw the instruction sheet. It was one sheet, one side, on thin, easily torn paper. It had a parts list, showing 26 different parts, each referenced by a number. Nothing in the box actually had a number on it, which was a big problem, considering it came with six different kinds of bolts. All the small parts were assembled onto a paper card with a plastic sheet dividing it into sections. It also came with a totally useless hex key and metal "wrench". They didn't include any extra nuts, washers, or bolts either.
A swing like this is composed of three major assemblies: the seat, the canopy, and the main frame. I put together the seat first, and ended up using the wrong set of bolts, although I didn't know this at the time. After I put the first bolt on it, I realized that it may need washers, and found this little note at the top of the sheet:
CAUTION: TUBE IS PUT IN-BETWEEN WASHERS AS SHOWN IN FIG. AND SMALL WASHER #19 IS FOR SCREWS #15 & 17, BIG WASHER #25 IS FOR SCREWS #14, 16, 18
OK, so I unscrew everything and redo it with a set of washers. I do this five more times, and I've got a seat. The canopy wasn't too bad, either, being only five big parts. The hard stuff started with the main frame. I got one of the sides bolted together when I noticed that I ran out of washers. A trip to the Home Depot at 9:30 got me more washers, along with better bits for my electric screwdriver, and a real hex key set, in case I need to hand tighten some things. A bit more work, and I've got everything together but the final brace piece that connects the two sides of the main frame between the back legs. This is where I discover my error in building the seat, so I go one-by-one, removing bolts from the seat, putting them in the frame, and putting the correct bolts in the seat. I discovered that one of the seat bolts had gotten stripped, and there's no removing it, so while it's a tight connection, I still need one more bolt to finish attaching the back frame.
What did I learn from this?
- Allocate all your parts to their assemblies first, and make sure they fit right. If I'd noticed that the bolts for the back brace weren't fitting before assembly, it would have gone smoother.
- Make sure you've got good tools for putting things together. The power screwdriver is your friend, but respect it.
- If you've got a flimsy instruction sheet, make a copy before working with it so if it gets torn or crumpled, you've got a backup.
Now, I'm out to the pool, and when I get back, I think I'm going to continue my "The West Wing" season two marathon; I got the set on Tuesday, and already have viewed the first five episodes.