Framing things

Building things is not something I’m a natural at. It’s not an intuitive trait or ability of mine. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say I’m probably a three. I might be a bit harsh, but I’m certainly not a 6 or 7.

When I tackle a project, it always seems to take me longer than I planned; or longer than the length of time that a skilled craftsman would accomplish the task in.

Acquiring these skills is probably a good thing. Hiring people to do work always costs more than taking a DIY approach. Labor costs money and skilled labor costs more.

Interestingly, the work I’ve hired out to have done has been done hit-or-miss. By that I mean that some of the work wasn’t as high quality as I’d have expected. I’ve had several things built; like decks, stairs, and none of them were done perfectly, or demonstrated pride of craftsmanship. Several times I’ve noted elements of the work as being less than perfect. I’ve even had to go back and “fix” something afterwards.

At the same time, when I’ve taken on a project myself, I’ve done a good job, even if it took longer. I may have had to back up and redo one thing or another or even vowed to never tackle building “one damn thing” ever again. After I was done, however, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.

I can be a procrastinator. Last November, I put in a dry stone walkway, or at least a section of a walkway, in front of our mudroom stairs. It was a labor-intensive project, but when I finished the 8 X 4 area, I was quite pleased. We’ve enjoyed having something permanent, as opposed to some of the jerry-rigged platforms we’ve laid down, especially during the wet and muddy parts of the year.

Yesterday, I finally got around to framing the paving stones with landscaping ties. It helps better stabilize the walkway, looks better, and is one more step towards eventually extending this out.

It was a Friday and I didn’t have to engage in paid work, so I blocked the day for the project. It was a good thing because I was at the task from about 8:00, when I headed out to the lawn and garden store, until 5:00, when I finished picking up the last of my tools, power cords, shovel, etc. There were a few breaks during that period; for lunch, to answer a few emails, and also, I vacuumed out my car. Go figure.

Each time I tackle a project, I learn something new and slowly add a few more skills that might come in handy down the road.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Note: The tape rule I was using yesterday to take my measurements was a 25-foot Stanley tape, given to me by my late father-in-law, 30 years ago. Joe gave me several tools when I married his daughter. He’d be happy to know that I’m a bit better at building things than I used to be.