A Man, A Plan, A Bookcase

bookcase plan 0320
I drew this in January. For the final result, skip all the text to the photo below.

My bookcase finally came home where it belongs yesterday, although it was tempting to leave it down at the makers’ space, because I was getting a lot of compliments on it. But no: function over form, and it was time to bring it home and put it to work.

When I went to the space to see if there was a plan, because I built my bookcase too big to fit in my own truck, I ran into our old neighbor (our neighbor from the old ‘hood, not that I mean to imply in any way that she herself is old) Heidi. We got caught up in a discussion of the high school boys’ basketball team (with a big playoff game yesterday afternoon), so I didn’t get a chance to ask what she was doing there, but based on the timing and the masks lying around, I’m guessing she’s taking the welding class offered by Branden on Saturday mornings.

All of my woodshop classmates were female, and one of Kara’s friends is a member, so there seem to be several women taking advantage of this space, but yesterday I decided this is just one giant man cave, where the daily pizza lunch is now being supplanted by steaks on the grill.

The other day when I stopped by, Branden and my woodshop teacher, D.J., were under the car lift trying to remove recalcitrant bolts holding a flywheel in place. The objective was a total engine replacement, and while the car owner was on hand, Branden and D.J. were doing all the work. Which means this guy was getting his entire engine replaced for his $50 membership fee — plus whatever beer he chooses to tip.

So I was planning on delivering a — let’s just call it a “suggestion” that perhaps these two consider charging an assistance fee, or teaching cost, or something to help cover the huge number of what I imagine are largely unpaid hours they are spending in this space.

Instead, I listened as Branden recounted the story of his dirt bike, stuck at a local shop for nearly three years and apparently just now back in his possession, and gave up any hope of conversation once the four adult boys on hand started up the bike. I did manage to suggest they open a door instead of running it in an enclosed building, which spilled the party out into the street.

Let the good times roll, I guess.

D.J., who had spent the morning out at the lake for his church’s annual family-friendly fishing tournament, said he could be ready by 2 to help me move the bookcase, so Lynn and I went to lunch, where I had a steak sandwich. If only I had known that Branden was going to be throwing steaks on the grill right as I finished.

They had already loaded my bookcase and tied it into the bed of D.J.’s truck, and without even waiting for a steak to be finished, D.J. and I were off, with Lynn and Oz, who saved his highest neuroses ever for yesterday afternoon, following behind in my car.

D.J.’s welcome to our house consisted of Oz screaming in terror (through an open window) at the notion that he was going to be left in the car in his own driveway — plus D.J. got to carry the heavy end of the bookcase while I took the light end. He insisted on stopping just inside the door to remove his shoes, even though Oz of the Muddy Feet was weaving frantically underfoot and Marrakesh, who has taken to spending all of his free time in the garage, materialized to further assist in the underfoot project.

I think I sort of feel relieved with the shelf experience of yesterday, although on some level it causes a small bit of despair: if D.J. can’t find the studs in our house, how are Lynn and I ever going to manage?

He had forgotten to bring his own stud finder, so I fetched my very expensive one that I haven’t seen anyone manage very successfully. He did tell me I was moving it too fast, but then after he slowed it down and confirmed by rapping his knuckle on the wall, the screw still went directly into drywall with nothing behind it.

Here’s where D.J. is still a lot more savvy than me: he made sure to drill his test holes in a location on the wall that was going to be covered up by the bookcase. We may not be in as much luck in Lynn’s bathroom, because she doesn’t have a for-sure height on the wall in mind for her second set of shelves (put together with dovetails that she routed), and it took five punctures into the wall, following a long session of stud-finder use and knuckle rapping, before a stud was located.

I’m thinking that if we could only apply the same (very cheap, I’m sure) technology that allows archaeologists to see behind walls, or at least under the top layer, to stud finding, that someone could become very, very rich. (Dan, if you’re reading, this could be your golden opportunity.)

With D.J.’s steak getting colder and colder by the minute as it waited back at the shop for him, I shamelessly dragged him over to the crawl space opening, where I have determined that my next project will be building a permanent access staircase/ladder but without any idea of how to go about it.

Now I have an idea, thanks to D.J., who opined that it didn’t think it would be much of a “project.” This shows he hasn’t spent enough time with me yet: I can make anything a project. I am a project.

He did also tell me I could stand on a single nail, and it might bend but should hold my weight. See how incredibly educational this has all been?

When we at last let him go back to the Man Cave Extraordinaire, he readily accepted Lynn’s cookies, but I had to argue long and hard to get him to take money for his time. “You’re never going to get rich that way,” I told him, and his reply was refreshingly humble: “I don’t need to be rich,” he said.

I think he already is, though, even if I don’t know how long they’re going to be able to keep their man cave afloat. If we use metrics other than our wallets, D.J. has a plentiful life — and I have a bookcase I’m very happy with that I built all by myself under his tutelage.


bookcase on wall 0320

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