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Friday, 3 April 2015

Carpentry

Part C in the 2015 A-Z Blogging Challenge

I used to have a great talent for just deciding out of the blue that I would do something difficult and completely random and pointless. Eventually those things got bigger and more meaningful, like my New Experience Challenge. But it used to be something like in one school holiday when I decided to build a bookshelf. I'd never built anything before and had no idea how to do it. Whenever I try and make anything crafts-y, I always get at least one measurement wrong, which throws the whole thing out. And I just wouldn't know what the first step is when it comes to carpentry.

I thought it made sense to draw up plans first. I sketched out the shelf as I pictured it along with the measurements of each side, the shelves and the thickness of the wood. I had to pick a type of wood that was strong enough, but not too pricey (I was a high school student after all). I think Dad ended up suggesting plywood, because there are different levels of hardness and I could pick the one I wanted.

There were challenges I hadn't anticipated - After drilling together the first corner of my shelf, the screws weren't strong enough to hold the side upright. I had to find the right angle to place it so that it would all stay in place until I'd gotten the four sides together. Then there was the problem of stabilizing it. Even after the sides were put together, it would bend and almost snap if I tried to stand it upright. So I went back to the hardware store and bought eight tiny metal brackets. Putting one in each corner, plus nailing on the back wall of the shelf, made it strong enough to stand up. I drilled small holes in the sides and placed little pegs on which to place the shelves. That way if I ever wanted to adjust the height, I could just take the pegs out, drill another hole and put them back. The final step - one that Dad convinced me was essential, but which tipped me over my budget - was to coat it in varnish. I had to admit it looked a lot nicer afterwards. It still sits in my bedroom to this day.




As proud as I was of the outcome, there was still one big issue that kind of ruined it. The plywood ended up not being strong enough, so if I put too much weight on the shelves, they would fold and collapse. I tried to fix it by drilling supporting beams onto the back, removing the ability to adjust the shelves. But not only did it look ugly, it wasn't even that much stronger in the end - over time I saw the screws poke through the surface of each shelf. But I worked out that CDs and DVDs were light enugh not to affect it, it was just books that made it too heavy. So I grabbed a spare plank of wood and wedged it into the first shelf space.



A bit of a downer, but nevertheless I'm very proud of my handiwork :)

36 comments:

  1. It seems that persistence and drive have been a part of your life and character for a very, very long time. Which is soooo Cool (another C word).
    Love your shelving, and have some less than stellar creations of my own - which fill me with pride.

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    1. Yeah I guess you're right... I don't know where it came from though :P

      Well I think I know what your next Sunday Selections photos should be ;)

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  2. I think you did a pretty decent job Michael, especially for your (then) age. My first project was a farm gate, lol.

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    1. That's pretty cool, how well did you do?

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    2. My grandfather was still using it on the family farm 20 years later... but I'd forgotten to put two hinges on the 'swing' side, so he used some baling wire to 'help out', lol.

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  3. I guarantee you the next time you build a bookshelf it won't have this problem!
    The best thing about doing it yourself is what you learn from it.
    Job well done regardless of the outcome!

    Bushman
    2015 A to Z Challenge Ambassador
    @jwb81074

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    1. Thanks! I'm still pretty proud of it despite the setbacks.

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  4. Even with the supporting stick, it looks great, Michael! You're right to be proud!

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    1. Thanks! It almost looks like I bought it ;)

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  5. Well, I would imagine you have learned some engineering principles in getting this project completed, and I'm happy that it has worked out okay for you! Have a great weekend!

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  6. Not bad, not bad. Not perfect, but not bad.
    NOTE: The "Not Perfect" crack comes from a yutz who would nail his head to a board.

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    1. And when that happens, I'll come along and muse "not bad..."

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  7. Turned out great, even if you needed to wedge a piece of wood in there. If all else fails I just get a hammer lol

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    1. Hahaha the novice tradesman's tool of choice ;)

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  8. That's more than I ever built. Cool that you still have it.

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  9. Looks good nonetheless. I've been wanting to build something out of wood and I always chicken out in the end.

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    1. There are woodworking classes you could join...

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  10. Hey- practice makes perfect! Not a downer at all. Good for you!!! I'd be soooo proud of myself and you should too!

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  11. Looks great. You are resourceful and handy. I have a heck of a time putting anything together, even with instructions. Or simply hammering a nail into the wall takes me three tries. Then it's always off-center when I hang it up. Gotta go shift a picture that's been driving me bonkers. See ya. =)

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    1. Oh I know what you mean! It's the worst!

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  12. There's no better way to learn than by doing. You did a great job for your first try. My grandfather started teaching me to use tools and to build things when I was just a kid. It's come in really handy in my adult life, because many of those years I was a single mom/teacher and couldn't afford to hire people to do work around the house.

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    1. We've always had really cheap tools, so I've had to be very careful that drill-bits don't snap and hit me in the eye etc :P

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  13. All I know of carpentry is that Jesus was a carpenter, and according to Mel Gibson he (Jesus) invented the table.

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    1. Hahahahahaha I find it just as likely that Mel Gibson invented the table than Jesus ;)

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  14. Visiting from A/Z. I like what you built in your "youth". Neat that you still have it and it useful for you! I can honestly say I have never built anything out of wood, so I do admire your efforts! Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

    betty

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    1. Thanks Betty, I'll come visit you tomorrow :)

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  15. They look wonderful - remember that you learn more from mistakes than successes and you mentioned several tips you picked up. I'd say that was a great project!

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  16. Hi Michael,

    I enjoyed this post immensely. Why? Because you tested yourself, and passed. Sure, you learned through trial and error. There is no success without failure. We do things that don't work, we try them again, and maybe again, until finally it works.

    This is such an inspirational post. I smiled all the way through. I'm handy with a hammer, my dad was always building something. He gave us wood, nails and a hammer and would tell us to build something useful… trust me, when you're little, useful isn't part of your vocabulary. I think he did it just to have a private laugh. We made the the funniest things.

    The thing is, it gave me the confidence to make mistakes and know that if I make enough eventually I'll figure it out and get it right.

    I hope you went on to building more useful things.

    I've added myself as a follower. I'll be back to enjoy more of your posts.
    Have fun on this A to Z journey.

    Jenny, Pearson Report
    2015 A to Z Challenge Ambassador
    @PearsonReport

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    1. Well thank you for the kind words, I certainly enjoy the positive energy you bring to the blogosphere :) Keep an eye out for my Fear of Failure posts, there's definitely a lot of self-testing there...

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    2. Will do…
      I live by this little saying:
      Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.

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