May 232012

I have an idea for a TV show that I would star in called, “The World’s Worst Carpenter.” It would be R rated because while I’m doing carpentry I curse continuously, berate myself, say un-self-congratulatory things as I note the inevitable continuum of mistakes. Plus, I talk out loud in an ongoing color (blue) commentary of what I need to do and how to do it and why it isn’t working for me. It might make for interesting and humorous TV though the show would have to be eight hours long—which equals the time it takes for me construct just about anything that has more than a handful of nails.

This morning our landscaping genius handed me a drawing for the base of an outdoor table that would go under one of those round things that make up a giant spool for cable or rope or whatever. I don’t know what they use them for but in the parlance of design Linda and the Rock Whisperer (the aforementioned  genius) said it would be “fun” to have it in the yard. It would be a place where the kids could do crafts and make more “fun” things. We have been doing lots of “fun” stuff around our place which, as far as I can tell, adds only minimally to my desire to create an environment of sustainability and self-reliance. It has added mostly a lot of commotion and the repeated question of, “What the f… are you guys doing over there?”

I stared at the drawing, realizing that I am not capable of converting two dimensional images into that important third dimension. I asked many questions. I confessed my ineptness. I worked hard to understand. One thing I could see was that there were angles. Many angles. Lots of pieces with angles. There were calls for 4″ x 4″s and 2″ x 4″s. There was the suggestion of carriage bolts and long screws, plus nails.

There is a chop saw in our shop. It belongs to our oldest son who graciously stores it here (along with his very nice table saw that I am deathly afraid of especially since our youngest son’s neighbor just cut the tips of all his fingers off on one). I have used the chop saw on a few occasions but had never cut an angle. Fortunately Adam, our contractor, happened by and schooled me on how you can actually move the chop saw blade. I had often wondered what those numbers were for.

I expect that in the future when there is no longer any gasoline and the electrical grid goes down (check out the trailer for this new network TV show) everyone will miss their chop saws.

After today I will miss the chop saw if the power goes off. I would hate to have to cut all my angles by hand. It was bad enough trying to notch some 4″ x 4″s with the hand saw which I did after a couple of unsuccessful tries. I try to do the “measure twice; cut once” routine but somehow I end up with pieces that aren’t quite the same length. And I’m sure that real carpenters have a way of scribing angles that works the first time. I, on the other hand, am stuck with the trial and error method.

Those of you who read about the recent “Grandma’s Sink of Memories” project will recall that I had help. Today, however, no help. Just that drawing and one or two consults with the designer. Linda, who was at the other end of the work table on another project enjoyed many good laughs and was slightly appalled at the stream of foul language which oozed like a foul inky cloud from my end.

The bottom line is that it is good to take on a challenge or two and try to see what you can do. It was a good project for a rainy day and a step up from my usual garden carpentry. We now have a really fun table for the garden.

It was a personal case study in self-reliance.

(Note: I’ve decided to try to build up readership with feeble attempts at humor as nobody really gives a shit about transition, sustainability and self-reliance. I will be inserting subliminal messages. Watch for them).

We Ain't Buildin' a Piano


  12 Responses to “Studies in Self-Reliance”

  1. […] the article here: Studies in Self-Reliance » Transition Lummi Island Tags: facebook, island, lazy-compost, may-garden-tour, november-2011, peak-moment-tv, […]

  2. enjoying the humor!

  3. Re cutting boards: it took me years before I learned that to make even cuts, one must allow for the kerf; never cut on the line. Like you, I find that an occasional “motherf**ker” is an indispensible part of carpentry or assembling anything that comes in a flat box from China.

  4. Note to self: learn to use the word “kerf” in a coherent sentence and work it into my next conversation about real guy stuff.

    (Had to look it up. My bad).

  5. I think the term is “mother kerfer!” (always said in exclamation) The Mother kerfer is the original line you meant to cut the first time…

  6. At least you’re not charging someone by the hour to build stuff, or worse yet, bidding on carpentry jobs on a flat rate basis.
    I completed my last job in just under 3 times the amount I said I would do it for.(I should settle for min.wage) Even after measuring multiple times, I still managed to waste some lumber. I’ve decided that when you go on Social Security, you give up a lot of those skills needed to make a living, at least that’s how it’s working out for me.
    As far as nobody giving a rats-ass about transition, You’re flat wrong! Lot’s of us live different lives from when you started this blog. We just don’t yak about it too much anymore. In my case, I feel much better prepared for whatever comes my way. ‘Nuff said., but I like the humor too,

  7. You men! Don’t you know that a kerf is the cotton hankie (short for kerchief) that you tie over your nose, bandit-style, to keep the sawdust from cloggin up your nostrils?

  8. Some of us still care about transition and self reliance. I for one am working on mine which is probably why my blog is suffering. See last post

  9. Susan, Nice blog. I have bookmarked it and will look forward to reading more.

    When I wrote “Nobody” I was referring to Americans in the broadest sense of the term Of course, there’s you and me and Mike, and Dave and several others but generally people are very unprepared and unaware of what might be coming at them.

  10. hahahaha. Lol funny. 🙂

  11. If only our father had learned some skills from his brothers that he could have passed on to us, we might not be so inept!. When the SHTF humor is all most people will have to survive on.

    BTW When I click on your Revolution video it says it is private and won’t play.

  12. For some reason they removed the Revolution trailer. Maybe the show got cancelled already.

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