Saturday, October 18, 2014

I'm Getting Wood

A few weeks ago I bought a wooden swing from our local craft fair. I'd wanted one for about 15 years and when I got lucky enough to find a nice one for a good price i bought the last one they had. My new brother-in-law helped me by hanging it up on my back porch.  When we sat down on it we all discovered that the wood was so new and raw, it was Velcro-like in texture.  

The next day, I remembered that I had bought a detail sander -- a Black & Decker Mouse -- about a year earlier.  Wonderful!  Sanding would be a piece of cake.

Except for the fact that I never bought extra sandpaper sheets when I bought the sander. 

So I went to Lowe's to find appropriate sandpaper sheets. While I was there, I got a crazy impulse to build a rack for my cutting boards that I could attach to the end of my countertop. I have a serious shortage of countertop in my kitchen and getting those cutting boards hanging up somewhere would be really helpful. 

I thought, I have a sander, drill, a Roto zip, and a jigsaw. I pretty much have enough tools to start building things out of wood.  Not that I really know what I'm doing. After all, have lived my whole life as a female and nobody taught me anything about woodworking even when I asked.  I was told that I'd have a man in my life someday to do all of those things for me. (So where is he?) Nevertheless, I did sneak peaks at my dad's woodworking magazines over the years.  

Still, it's a shame that I was denied education because I'm female.  I guess that means to be worth the attention, I'd have had to be a male with a thirst for learning to make things.  Don't be fooled -- much as I'd like to have value in this world, I'll never be better than chattel - a second class citizen at best. Mysoginy is alive and well in every generation alive today, even the ones professing to be gentlemen.

After asking the man from the tool department what kind of wood he thought I should use, I picked up a 1x2 and a 1x3  and headed home with an idea in mind.  It seemed logical. I did some measuring and marking and dry fitted all of the pieces together in my head.  

Then I got my jigsaw out and started cutting.  I figured that if I completely screwed things up, there was little cost involved and I could just burn the pieces that I destroyed.

I made a few mistakes along the way, and I realized what I had done wrong when I did them.  No big deal, it was just a starter project and I was working blind anyway. 

1.   I had no semblance of a workbench to clamp my wood to when I cut it.  I simply held the wood with my left hand, propped the wood across two plastic bins, and cut across my line holding the jigsaw in my right hand.

2.  After being left with a couple of stalactites on the ends of my cut boards, I realize that I was pushing the jigsaw forward instead of letting it chew up the wood and move forward on its own terms.  Let the tool do the work and do not force it faster than it needs to go. Hey, I was clueless until I realized.

3.  Not wanting to get any splinters into my hands as I worked, I used the sander to soften the edges of all the boards and to remove the stalactites before I screwed anything together. If I had done much more sanding, my pieces might not have fit together snugly.

4.  I didn't take into account the actual dimensions of the lumber I used. 1x lumber is never quite 1 inch. It will usually be 3/4 of an inch. News to me that day.  However, that didn't even matter with my project. I was just making it up as I went along. Everything worked out just fine in the end anyway. 

5.  I was very careful to inspect the lumber before I bought it. I did know that I should make sure my wood didn't cup or bow or twist or any of those horrible things, so I looked down the length, flipping it over, rejecting several pieces, avoiding knots.  Some of that wood was in dreadful shape. I don't understand who would buy that.

6.  I forgot the L brackets. I would need them to hang up my finish project if it worked out okay. I had to make a second trip back to Lowe's to find the L brackets, and when I had to go find where they were, I learned a few new things about bracket hardware as well. 

7.  My wood screws attempted to split some of the wood.  At that time I had no clue about countersink bits and how useful I would find one. :) Ha ha, now I know.  Next time.

8.  I discovered, marginally, that a Workmate might be a good purchase for me... If I can figure out how to put it together.  I'm not sure exactly how to use one, but just clamping wood to be cut to it would improve my life tremendously.

My finished project actually turned out very well for a crafter who did not know what she was doing.  It's sturdy, attractive, and big enough to hold my largest cutting boards easily, and most importantly, out of my way.  Also out of reach of my dog's weewee aim too. I tested that before I mounted the rack.

I showed a photo of it to my brother, foolishly proud of my work as I was.  He asked what kind of wood I used.  I told him I guessed it was pine, because I just pulled wood from the 1x rack. 

He responded, "You should have used oak."  Right... In my orange knotty pine paneled kitchen, overdue to be painted completely white, I should have used expensive wood for a beginner project.  

Maybe he was just saying that I did such an excellent job on a free handed project that I could have made it out of nicer wood.  Maybe?  

But I swear I heard this tone and sentiment:

"The little lights aren't twinkling, Clark."
              -- Clark Griswold's father, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

My theory is this:  it's my house, and if I mess up something that I try to do, I can learn from my mistake, and try again.  I just might get it right.  I can't get it right if I don't even try, right?

FWIW:  it's been 24 hours and I'm still sick from my overdose.  I was brought some saltines i had requested, along with some very disappointing news.  I haven't eaten anything but a few crackers today, and I feel like I'm full to the top of my neck with acid.  Tums isn't helping, and my migraine is still tormenting me.  Lots of aches coming on, probably from not eating.  I finally drank some milk, probably the wrong thing to do, but it made me feel better for a bit.

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