WARDROBES, beds, bookshelves and kitchen units that you assemble yourself come under the generic term "flat pack" furniture, and sooner or later we all end up trying to put one of these puzzles together. The keys to retaining your sanity are as follow:

1. Read the instructions first, right through. Make sure you have all the bits as described (although it is not uncommon for the bits to vary slightly from those pictured in the diagrams).

2.The diagrams and instructions are often misleading, so trust your common sense. Try to visualise the finished bed or wardrobe as you proceed.

3.Whatever you do, don't lose the special tool provided. This is usually an Allen key or a star key, and the idea is to stop you putting the thing together with an ordinary screwdriver. Nobody will say why this is so, but it clearly stems from some kind of exclusivity and world domination plan.

4.Don't over tighten the screws. Most flat pack furniture is chipboard at heart, and over-tightened screws will tear out. Put all screws in hand-tight at first and only tighten them up when you're sure everything is in the right place.

5. At least one of the pre-drilled holes will be in the wrong place. This is because the top was made in China and the sides were made in Venezuela. Don't panic; leave this screw till last - you might find the thing stays up without it.

6. There is always a bit left over. This is normal. Don't throw it away. It may be the special tool (see 3 above).