Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Power Tools

A mere two summers ago we replaced the decking of our "bigger-than-our-first-house-deck", hereafter known as "BTOFHD" or "BFD" for short. There are no more rotting support beams, there is no more swaying of the deck due to rotting support beams, and there are no more (very few anyway) slivers in feet while walking on this new and improved deck. The only thing that's been missing is rails. Well, not all of the rails. One side of the deck still has some, even if they are spaced far enough apart that a child, or very determined adult, could slip through and drop ten feet to the ground below. The other half of the deck looks like the low platform at a swimming pool, except instead of clear, blue water there are rocks with nice sharp edges. This summer, after some subtle prompting by Leslie, who feared for the lives of her children, and incessant haranguing by me, Dean decided if he ever wanted peace again it was time to build deck rails for the BFD.

There is a logical order to the building, repairing, or completion of a BFD. First, and foremost in this order is, of course, to buy a fancy power tool. Yes, that would be none other than a jointer/planer.

After purchasing this fancy new power tool we realized there was no possible way we could fit the huge box into our little Toyota, and believe me we tried. So it was carefully unpacked and most of it was loaded into the trunk and backseat and driven home by Dean while I patiently waited in the Home Depot parking lot trying to look like I had a reason for sitting on a curb in the sun next to a cart with an opened box and bits of styrofoam and plastic blowing in the breeze. We finally got all the bits and pieces home and assembled and then the subject of a table saw came up.

In order to get rails on this BFD I was more than willing to purchase any tool required, including a table saw, but once the planer/jointer was home and assembled Dean wasn't sure where he'd store another large power tool during the winter. His stall has been filled with the old wood from the BFD (that would be for two years now) and even though I willingly forfeit my spot in the garage during the summer, he knew there was no way on God's green earth I would scrape snow and ice off my car windows in the winter while his power tools stayed warm and dry in my garage stall. Fortunately Ryan was willing to loan us his saw and is eagerly awaiting his turn at the jointer/planer.

Here's the progress so far:

Save the old wood from your BFD for two years in your garage.

Take the old wood

rip, plane and cut

to make new rails

and lots and lots of spindles

with beveled ends.

Allow the little woman to round off the four corners of the spindles with a hand-numbing, vibrating hand-held sander and then use numb hand to precisely hold each spindle as it is attached.

The attachment of the spindles is a multi-step process involving multiple screwdrivers, drills, bits, counter-sinkers, templates, and jigs. There's no such thing as just driving in one screw at each end of a stick of wood in this household!

How many people do you know who can shake their head in dismay one minute when their cordless screwdriver loses power and then perk up when they remember they have a ZEPHYR in their toolchest!

And now the race to complete the BFD rails has begun. One small portion has been completed. We will complete it all before our bodies give out? Or before the winter snows arrive? Is there hope for new stairs?


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