Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Playing Carpenter

by Annette Dashofy

In the past, I’ve blogged about some of the jobs and careers I’ve had. Today, I thought I’d write about one professional that I never had. Carpenter.

I love creating things. Stories, of course, but other kinds of things, as well. Quilts. Photographs.


Granted my husband is definitely the handy one around here. He has a workshop out back and builds muzzleloader rifles, wooden storage boxes, and shelves to name a few of his specialties. He has a Shopsmith and loads of nifty tools and gadgets. Better yet, he knows how to use them.

As for me, I can’t even hammer a nail straight. Drills and power saws strike fear in my heart along with visions of blood and amputations. And after reading Rebecca Drake’s Don’t Be Afraid, no way will you ever catch me with a nail gun.

So, you ask, how can I possibly enjoy creating furniture? I have one word for you. IKEA.

I first discovered that I could put together a kit and create something that looks half-ways decent back in my teen years when my parents bought a do-it-yourself stereo stand for my bedroom. Unwilling to wait for Dad to get home the next day to put it together, I started reading the directions and figuring out what pieces were which. A little glue and a few dowel rods later and I had the thing built! I could even screw the hardware into the pre-drilled holes.

And I might add, that first creation of mine lasted for several decades until I sold it a few years ago at a yard sale.

Since then, I built the computer desk I’m currently sitting at. A massive chunk of lumber, I can honestly say that I did it all myself. Well, sort of. I followed the directions while my hubby was at work (we’ll have to discuss my impatience with waiting until the man of the house gets home another time) and put it together on its side. What I couldn’t do was tip it upright and hoist the upper part onto the lower part to bolt it all together. Hey, I work out, but this thing weighs a ton.

I also built the two matching storage cabinets that grace my office, but those were a joint effort. I’m not entirely sure it wouldn’t have gone a lot smoother, though, if I’d done it myself. Sometimes, hubby and I just don’t work all that well together. “Are you SURE those are the right screws?” “Yes, DEAR.” Sigh.

The other night, I went to IKEA once again. This time I brought home two hefty boxes containing what will be a three-door wardrobe. It will definitely be a two-person venture, especially since I want more shelves inside than what come with it. That will require cutting wood with power tools. I don’t do power tools. Maybe a rechargeable screwdriver, but that’s about it.

However, once we get all the pieces in the house, there is a good chance that I’ll be tinkering at putting it together as much as possible on my own. With no one to argue about whether I know the difference between sizes and types of screws and hinges. In fact, while you’re reading this post, I may very well be playing carpenter.

Did I mention we built our log cabin ourselves? Yep. It was a kit.


Anonymous said...

I knew owning a house had changed me when I sat down with the pieces for my office desk and the 20-odd page instruction booklet on putting it together and never once said, "I need a man!"

So, Annette, what did you do about the basement for your log cabin (or is there one?)

Anonymous said...

I built most of my home office furniture, not to mention the bookshelves in my dining room, a spice rack and desk (don't ask) in my kitchen, and a utility cabinet in my living room from kits. It's fun, like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, only easier because most of the pieces are bigger and there are fewer of them. The resulting furniture really does last for years. And you don't need tools. I own a lot of tools, none of which I can ever find when I need them. I've been looking for my pipe wrench for the past week. I've found all the screwdrivers (both straight head and phillips head) that I can never find when I need them, but no wrenches whatsoever, not even the socket wrench set I bought when I got my first car. The kits come with handy little allen wrenches that you use on the screws. OK, sometimes you do need a screwdriver, but since I own at least fifty, I can usually locate one within a few months.

Joyce Tremel said...

I leave all the furniture building to Jerry. If I ever bought a kit of any type of furniture, that would probably be the last anyone ever heard from me. Everything has to be solid wood, preferably built by him. Our garage is a wood shop full of rough cut lumber and assorted power tools. He made all our end tables, panelling in the living room and library, and our huge library desk. Not bad for an accountant.

Another reason I don't put anything together is that I can never understand those little diagrams they give you. Text, I can handle, but I can't make any sense out of the pictures.

Annette said...

Tory, we do have a basement and we subcontracted that part out. But my hubby definitely had a hand in it. I have pictures of him building the forms for the footer.

It helped that for for many years my cousin who was a professional remodeler lived next door to us and provided technical support.

Gina, I swear tools sprout legs and run off when they know you need them. Go figure.

Joyce, yeah, the pictures can be confusing. Sometimes I turn the booklet upside down and study them that way to make sense of them.

Anonymous said...

For high school graduation, my daughter Sarah received a power drill from my aunt. I was so proud of both of them!

Anonymous said...

Love this thread, Annette. I tried to put a microwave stand together years ago, and don't even get me started on the basketball stand! What does it mean when you have all those excess pieces left over?:) I can't imagine anything more rewarding than telling your stories on the furniture you put together to tell them. Your office in total must bring you inspiration! Well done.

Annette said...

Well, Donnell, it depends on what kind of pieces are left over. A big hunk of wood probably means you'd better re-read the directions. A screw or two...well sometimes they do give you extras.

Nancy, no one has ever given me power tools as a gift. I'm jealous.

Anonymous said...

We just finished assembling and moving my new home office, so I have a lot of experience with being a carpenter lately.

But to be honest, I don't put furniture together for the simple reason that I don't have the patience for it. I am pretty good at reading those instructional pictures, though, so I do help my hubby out in that department.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Annette. I felt really empowered years ago when I went to IKEA, bought a bookshelf and put it together all by myself. I don't do power tools either, though. I was never so impressed as when I went to a Pennwriters luncheon, and Marie Regina told me she'd gone out and bought herself a chainsaw that morning. I'm terrified of chainsaws -- I just know I'd end up accidentally amputating one of my own limbs!

Annette said...

Lisa, it's so good to know I'm not alone in my amputation concerns!

Anonymous said...

Which brings us back to Nancy and deepest fears . . .

Still, I don't think my fear of chainsaws is a phobia, merely realistic risk assessment!