Sunday 15 July 2012

A Job Well Done…ish

I was talking to a friend in Toronto today and during the conversation I mentioned some work that I had done around the house and with my son on his garage. We talked of many things and as always I was reluctant to let them go, but due to the two hour time difference, I was keeping them up or just plain pestering them. I never know when or how to end a phone conversation. I suspect that if I were to end it ten or twenty minutes sooner it would be fine for my friends. Perhaps that is another thing I am on the planet to learn.

It seems that whenever you build or renovate, nothing goes according to plan. Nothing goes according to plan even when you go according to plans. I am pretty sure that the professional builders have less trouble, but that is due to a number of contributing factors. The first and I believe most important reason they don’t bugger things up is that they possess the necessary knowledge to do the job. They learned their trade over a period of years and have made he mistakes that I/we made during any construction job. They aren’t trying to figure out how to put in a door by watching a Youtube video or by reading the “Idiots Guide to Door Installation”. I think I speak for everyone when I say that no one could install a door by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Whoever writes these things probably flunked out of the Ikea School of writing directions.

The second thing that the pros have going for them is that they have the right tool to perform the work that they are trying to do. It has taken me most of sixty years, but I am starting to see the wisdom in that particular idea. My only problem now is that although I have the right tools in many cases, I often can’t locate them when I need them. This causes me to fall back on the crap tool that I have used for the past thirty years and consequently do a crap job. Sometimes I will spend two hours looking for a tool only to remember that I loaned it out a month before. The right tool can lower your frustration level by 100%. On the weekend, we took the wood and tools needed up on the roof, only to find that the battery was dead. This just reinforces the “hate” part of my love/hate relationship with cordless tools.

The third and perhaps most important thing they have going for them is that they aren’t paying for the materials. If you don’t pay, then why not wrap the house in plastic and make sure every seam is caulked. Yes, yes, yes, it is the best way. I am the kind of guy that saves the bent nails to e straightened later. Brendan caught me doing this last weekend. I was putting a bent nail in the “Bent Nail Pouch” on my tool belt when Brendan calls across the yard ”Hey Dad! You aren’t saving bent nails are you? I have boxes and boxes of nails.”

I looked up at him and then at the bent nails in my hand and told him “Of course not. I am just taking these to the garbage.” Now, I have to figure a way to get them out of the garbage without anyone seeing. I have a small bucket of bent nails in my garage that I just haven’t gotten around to straightening out. Well, I had a small bucket of bent nails, now there is a small bucket of bent, rusty nails. I am still keeping them because you can make a very pleasant looking rust coloured wood stain from rust. I have never done it, but I am sure it can be done, and at no cost to me.

The fourth and final thing that separates the pro from the amateur builder is that the pro can fuck something up and knows the best way to cover up his mistake without the customer noticing until the warrantee has expired. If you can make your mistake look like something that you planned to do, then you become a journeyman carpenter.

With that all in mind, the people that helped Brendan build his garage did their very best. It was a job well done…ish.

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