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Story stuck

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Drawer slides are among the easiest things to install: Do it correctly, and they practically install themselves. Pop quiz: What’s the key statement there?

If you didn’t say “do it correctly,” do not pass GO and do not collect $200. In a project I just finished, I won’t be collecting anything.

I bought Sally a new computer last week. It’s one of those “all-in-one” machines so the tall, narrow cubicle in her desk where the old computer tower used to be was now empty. Not really useable for anything as-is, I decided to convert it to accommodate notebooks on the bottom, and add a drawer to the top. Easy project.

The drawer went together quickly, and installing the slides should also have. The thing with slides, though, is that they have to be parallel. That’s drawer-slides 101. Easy, too – measure, check for level, drill, attach, done.

But because this little cubicle is only about 9" wide and 20" tall, working inside wasn’t easy. I could barely see the bubble in the level, and by the time everything was drilled and attached, predictably, my drawer wobbled.

In retrospect, for this small task I should have begun by measuring where I wanted that slide then cut a story stick to that length and used it to position and mark each slide – both parallelism and levelness would have taken care of themselves. I didn’t. Instead, after the fact I figured all I needed to do was slightly adjust one end of one slide for a quick fix.

Of course, the first attempt made it non-parallel the other way, the second made it non-parallel the other-other way, as did the third. I finally got it right on the fourth try.

And, in the end, I spent far more time getting it right by doing multiple fixes than I would have by cutting that story stick to begin with.



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