Nailed It

nail gun 0120Often on Saturdays, I don’t feel like I get much done, no matter how much I move around and knock tasks off my list. But yesterday felt extremely productive, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I made something with my own two hands.

In addition to the usual laundry and the purchasing of milk and a whole lot of other stuff at the health food store, I went to Western Lumber. I often feel out of place at a lumber yard, although they always smell really good, but Preston helped me out, and I left with a giant piece of lumber and a 2 x 4. And some bookshelf pegs, although because I am in desperate need of a visit to the eye doctor, I read “5 mm” on the package when it actually said “6 mm.” And while we might think a measly little millimeter doesn’t make much of a difference, in this instance it renders them completely unusable.

I took my lumber purchases to my new makers’ space, and after lunch I gathered up more lumber from my scrap wood collection that generally does very little but take up space, and went back to my makers’ space with four objectives.

The first two were repeats of last week’s “maker” activity: I wanted to cut boards down so they will function as additional shelves in the Library of Great Unhappiness. The next plan was to make a base shelf for one of the four sections of the library, to make it all less unhappy, and the final plan was to make a base for the Vanity That Doesn’t Yet and Might Not Ever Exist, although in theory — longer and more complicated than String Theory — it was supposed to have launched from Alabama on Friday. But I’ve heard that before. And before, and before . . .

I also made two social in-roads, or more, at my new extracurricular space. I clarified that the man we met last week, whose named Lynn heard as Brandon but which the paper listed as Brendan, is really named Branden. Got it. And I met the other owner, DJ, who is going to be the teacher of the class Lynn and I start in a couple of days.

I also exchanged a smile with Branden’s dad and interacted with another man, although we did not get as far as names. He was there working on his truck, which is another feature of the space, an automotive lift.

Under DJ’s supervision and instruction, I started on my fourth objective first and put together my vanity base. Which sounds easy in that one sentence.

The first thing I really became aware of, although no harm came to anyone, was all the potential for danger in a woodshop, starting with one the owners haven’t really noticed yet. They opened a door for me to bring wood directly into the wood shop, which is the northernmost part of the space, but there’s a huge lump of ice making footing precarious. I might be donating one of the axes from my giveaway pile to the cause, along with some ice melt.

Other than that, there was a lot of reacquainting myself with spinning discs full of sharp teeth. I keep telling them I last took shop in junior high, but that negates all the time in college I spent in the scene shop of the theatre department, and those memories were all starting to come back yesterday while standing before the table saw, a saw probably very similar to the one that cost my dad’s brother the tips of four fingers (a precautionary memory I always bear in mind when near a table saw).

The main difference in scenery construction versus real construction is that scenery is always meant to be taken apart. Meaning I’ve never had cause to use a nail gun before yesterday, and I wasn’t at my best with it. I kept unintentionally putting two nails in when one would suffice. But because I had heeded DJ’s safety instructions, my hands were well out of harm’s way when a reverberating nail punched through.

Watching DJ, I could see the one basic difference between where he is and where I am: if something went wrong, he just stopped and immediately looked for how he could fix it while I, after all these decades of non-self-reliance, wonder who to call.

For instance, as he was showing me the sawdust vacuum, it made what to him was an awful racket (good thing he was there, because I would have assumed that was just how it sounded). He stopped the vacuum, grabbed a screwdriver, opened it and found a piece of PVC pipe that is supposed to be part of the suctioning system that had somehow instead gotten sucked into the system.

And when I misfired with the nail gun, which really only happened twice despite multiple nails in locations where one would suffice, he just pounded on the sharp end of the nail until it backed out of the wood.

But he told me I was doing well — all the other nails went right where they should. In fact, I felt so flush with my success (although I have yet to measure the box to see how it stacks up against the non-existent vanity it’s going to support) that I have decided to go one step further and face it with Marmoleum to match the floor.

So while I wasn’t planning to go back today, it’s now on the agenda, also because I needed better measurements before starting my shelf base project, and I have a 12-foot board sticking out in the middle of the woodshop. It has a red flag on it, but Branden, who said he has twice gotten himself with the nail gun in the past week, noted he would find a way to trip over it anyway.

Both Branden and DJ seemed pleased that I had come in and that I was enjoying the space. DJ kept apologizing as we were using the chop, table and circular saws that this was all material he was going to go over in class, but I kept assuring him that repetition is good. As of now, Lynn and I will be joined by two other classmates for this endeavor that gets underway on Tuesday.

But now, even before class starts, I have successfully cut three shelves to size, even if I can’t put them all up because my eyes can’t read the difference between 5mm and 6mm, and made a base that will raise my vanity to a functional height. If my vanity ever actually arrives. Maybe I will just have to make it myself, because as of now, I’m pretty sure I can do anything.

Failed photojournalism again: did it even occur to me to take a picture of my vanity base? I guess you’ll just have to wait — and wait and wait — to see it in place under the vanity. But the nail gun above looks remarkably like the one I wielded yesterday with no aplomb whatsoever.

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