Duane, my friend and co-conspirator on a number of interesting endeavors, aka “projects” fancies himself to be something of a carpenter. I on the other hand see myself as a farmer. Essentially we have diverse opinions on how to proceed on projects. He says my farmer approach is going to drive him crazy. I don’t think that’s possible because I’m not a very good driver when it comes to things like that. The best I can do is to suggest some shortcuts.
The subject for this blog started on Tuesday. Let’s call it ” The new door project”. First a little pre-project history. What was formally known as the old garage (which never really served as a garage but as a repository for stuff I, a farmer, might use sometime in the future, became the Welcome Center. A carpenter would have simply categorized it all as junk and ordered a dumpster. I, being a farmer, chose the sort and pile method of disposal. Granted this did slow down the process a bit and resulted in things be relocated to other localities . However I can sleep at night knowing I have it if I need it providing I don’t forget where I hid it.
Anyway, Mrs Ed and Duane, who doesn’t care for sheet rocking, suggested we hire a real carpenter. Feebly protesting that carpenters cost money, I gave in, I guess sheet rocking can get a little technical if you can’t live with a few rough spots and cracks. Farmers can, carpenters can’t. I will concede the job got done on time and looks pretty good but I think I could have saved money through a sweat equity strategy but as we farmers say, “what is done is done”!
The door project was the last piece of the puzzle. The problem needing to be addressed was a too narrow entry door to allow the comfortable passage of wheel chairs. Squeezing the chair shut with the person still in it isn’t an ADA approved method. Neither is taking a run at it. At this point the project was about to catapult into the “major” category.
Now you need to understand Mrs Ed doesn’t mind if I take on the minor projects using my farmer skills. Actually they usually get done under the radar. “Just do it ” I say. Saves me a lot of time thinking of rational answers to questions she might have like to “are you sure you know what your doing”? “how much will it cost or isn’t that a little crooked” ? I am a firm believer in trim and paint to deal with the minor imperfections. Besides custom farmer built projects have unique charm sometimes referred to on TV reality shows as rustic folk art. I believe perfection is secondary to functionality and is generally over rated.
I know a projects “gone major ” when I announce I am going to tackle it myself and a concerned looking Mrs Ed ‘s immediate response is “I think you better call Duane”. That’s fine if that’s what it takes to get her approval however the project instantly gets much more complex.
Let me explain the differences between carpenters and farmers. Carpenters spend a lot of time thinking about a project ahead of time. Time conscience farmers wait until the situation really becomes a problem before springing into action. Take for example the gate to the cow pasture is starting to sag. A carpenter would say I think you should fix that before the cows get out. A farmer would round up the cows before fixing the gate to make sure it served its total life.
A carpenter studies a project, makes a material list, goes to the lumber yard, consults with a professional lumber guy, before ordering the material and having it delivered to the job site sometimes days in advance of when the project actually starts. A farmer on the other hand sees a project and leaps into action. He makes a list of stuff he might need and heads for the lumber yard. He buys what is on the list plus a few extra pieces just in case he runs short. If he should run short he can always jump in his truck and head to town. He had to go in anyway because he needed to pick up stuff on his updated list.
A carpenter uses a pneumatically powered nail gun with specifically sized and strategically placed nails. A farmer uses a claw hammer unless he can’t remember where he used it last. In that case he uses a ball peen hammer unless the handle is still cracked from the time before last when it broke fixing some stubborn piece of machinery. In a pinch he can use the flat side of a hatchet or in an extreme emergency, the flat side of a left handed monkey wrench.
The size of the nails doesn’t matter as much as using what you have left over from the last job. Strength is measured in numbers. The bigger the penny size and the more nails you use, the stronger it will be. If you really want it to hold up you can spend the extra money on pole nails.
A carpenter relies on a blue print prepared by an architect. He claims it enables him to do things sequentially, in the right order. A farmer saves time by bypassing this cumbersome bureaucracy of experts by simply transferring ideas directly from his brain to the project.
The carpenter waits for the inspector to confirm the quality of his work. A farmers test for success is to look at the nearest person and ask “well how does she look”? Or “looks pretty good, don’t you think”?
A carpenter assume that because the inspector approved it that it will istand the test of time. A farmer waits for the next time there is a big wind storm to see if she made it.
A carpenter strives for perfection by maintaining high industry standards. A farmer always leaves the option of lowering the standards open just in case.
Back to the new door project. Farmer: We need a bigger door” Carpenter: How big does it need to be? F: At least 32 inches. C: Inside or outside dimensions? F: Big enough to get a wheel chair through. C: Must be inside dimensions. F: Ok then, let get the chain saw and cut that hole. C: Where’s the door. F: Don’t have it yet. C: Why not? F:don’t know how big it needs to be till we get the hole cut. C: Did you know doors come in standard sizes? F: Really? When did they start doing that? Do they charge by the door or how big the opening is? C: Maybe you better go to Menards to see what they have in stock. F: Those guys don’t know what a Welcome Center is. If I go there and tell them I got a hole for a door 33 by 81 and a quarter they will know what I’m looking for. C: Just go get a door and we will cut a hole to fit it. And don’t forget to get some shims. F: What do we need shims for? C: To fill in the spaces around the door. F: I thought you said we would cut the hole to fit the door? C: The shims are to level it. F: You mean it’s got to be level too? I don’t remember where I left the level. C: And tell them you need a left hand door. F: But I’m right handed. Now I know you’re pulling my leg. Next thing you will want me to do is find my sky hook so we can lower it into place. C: What’s a sky hook? F: Do I have to explain everything to you?
Carpenters, they think I’m driving them crazy ! Maybe I’m the one heading for crazyville!
Post script. I bought a door from Menards and got it installed.
Text messages between Mrs Ed and I. Ed: Got the door In. Mrs E: Did you call Duane? Ed: Yup, he’s here and brought his grandson. Mrs E: What’s he like? Ed: He has worked construction. Mrs E: Sounds good. What are you doing? Ed: They told me to go find the level.