Making Sense of Flat Pack Instructions

I like puzzles. I like jigsaws, crosswords, cryptic puzzles, and even the New York Times Thursday Rebus puzzle. Well, maybe not that last one. But mostly I enjoy solving puzzles because I know that there is an answer just waiting to be found. Until today.

Today I came across the impossible Jysk Ersmark dining chair puzzle, and I’ve been trying to solve it for a couple of hours now. The installation instructions are terrible. That is not unusual for flat-pack furniture, but these instructions are exceptionally bad. For example, can you tell the difference between parts E, F and G in this diagram? No? Me either.

I put the table together with no trouble at all, and I thought I was on a roll. Now I realize I should have knocked that little dowel post of pride on its head. I had only just begun to screw things badly.

The chair pieces are all here. I have counted them. They match the diagram for the contents of the package. So, the problem is not the number of pieces. For a brief moment I thought the problem might be me, but I dismissed that right away. I can finish 1000-piece puzzles, follow Google Maps directions, understand multiple English accents, and score an average of 99% on Wordle. Puzzle-solving is in my DNA, so the problem cannot be me. Can it?

Then I noticed that part J looks a lot like part M. Whoa! Now I have to measure the screws. Damn. I thought measuring screws was in my past.

Even having done that, I find that the instructions lack something. What is the word I am looking for? Do they need clarity? Precision? Conciseness? Yes, all of that. But mostly they need explication, verisimilitude, elucidation, and interpretation. Oh, and illustration might help, too. Almost anything that ends in “ation” would probably be advantageous.

It’s OK, though. I think I have the solution. A glass or two of wine will not help me figure out the puzzle, but it will definitely help me to stop caring about it. It will all make more sense in the morning.


  1. Love love love! Wine is the answer and tomorrow will bring clarity. For me, even if they have illustration instructions I need a magnifying glass to read them !

    1. Thank you for the empathy, Susan. It took me ages, but I finally figured it out. Unfortunately, I put some dowels in the wrong holes and now I can’t get them out. I may have to drill them out. So far I have succeeded in putting together the table and two of the chairs. The other two chairs will have to wait.

  2. Lol. Now that’s just sad. BUT all instructions are that way here in my ‘paradise’. Central America. My reasoning and construction skills are coming along quite nicely. 🙌🏻🥴

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