Saturday, April 7, 2012

Trouble Comes in Threes (but not always in a row)

You know how they say trouble comes in threes?  What they don’t tell you is that the three don’t always come in a row.  You’d expect they would.  I mean when two things go wrong and you’re waiting for the third – because “they” said so! – and then something wonderful happens, you tend to regain your optimism and stop looking for the third thing, which would have brought relief and restored your confidence without false pretences mucking up the system. 

So when my shelving project last weekend turned out really, really well, I cast aside the discouragement of the catastrophic candles and the arduous Argyll and thought that I had side-stepped the troublesome triplets.  Not so!  (See the Dinner Disaster posted earlier for details.)

My original design -
with incorrect measurements!
Apparently, the DIY gods were in favour of my project.  The fact that it occurred successfully in the midst of three things going wrong just goes to show how much the Universe wanted me to have proper book shelves.  They have been keeping me waiting for nearly a year, but, at long last, they permitted all the pieces to fall into place and graced me with success.  The respite from things going terribly wrong was more than welcome.  I must say that I am grateful for the break from calamity and pretty darn proud of how the project turned out.

I started with a plan.  I didn’t want plain rows of shelving.  I wanted something a little more interesting and unconventional.  So I came up with what I thought would be a versatile pair of shelf units.  My original math was incorrect, but I double and triple checked my figures and did eventually work out the right measurements for the pieces.  And that is where the plan came to an abrupt and seemingly impassable halt. 

My tool collection is minimal.  I have a hammer, a tape measure, a level, a mouse sander and a cordless drill.  Oddly enough, I have been known to look longingly at the circular saws in the hardware store, but my fear of using one has prevented me from releasing my Visa and adding one to my collection.  I kept telling myself that I would find someone to build the shelves for me, but that just never seemed to pan out. 

The shelving material cut to length and
laid out on the living room floor
awaiting assembly.
Last Saturday a little voice told me to hop in the van and go to the lumber yard and buy the material for the shelves.  I didn’t argue, but the mission filled me with dread.  I am terribly out of my element in lumber yards.  I knew what I needed, I just felt bizarrely out of place going up to the counter and asking for it.  It was even weirder taking the yard slip out to the area where the material was and handing it to the yard man, who took it from me and disappeared into the shadows of a shed where, presumably, the material was stored.  A few minutes later nine pieces of 7’ x 12” rough pine shelving was loaded into Gracie and I was one more step closer to having book shelves. 

It took an hour to get this far!
The first shelf unit fully assembled
and waiting to be stained.
 On the way home, I stopped at my daughter’s grooming salon to say hi.  We chatted for a few minutes and when she asked me what I was up to, I told her that I had just bought the shelving material for my shelves.  I didn't think any more of it and when I got home I unloaded the shelving into the basement, wondering how long they would be stored there and if they would ever morph into the shelves I wanted and needed. 

The following Monday, my daughter stopped by the library to see me.  When I asked her what she was up to, she informed me that she needed my house key so she could get the shelving material and take it to her father-in-law to have cut to length for me.  I nearly cried.  What a sweet and awesome thing to do!  As it turned out, I was pretty much done for the day and so I went home and helped her load it into her Kia and take it away.  Less than an hour later the nine pieces of shelving were returned in sixteen pieces cut to spec, along with some assorted end cuts, which may – or may not – someday become something else. 

My daughter and I carried the pieces into the house and put them in the living room.  I set to work immediately assembling them according to the plan right between the sofa and the TV and by eight o’clock that night I had both units put together and out on the deck ready to be stained.  I ignored the dipping thermometer and began brushing dark brown, semi-opaque wood stain onto the shelves.  I was amazed at how well everything was going and still waiting for the third disaster to befall me.  It didn’t come.
It was raining and cold outside, but
that didn't stop me from forging ahead!

The following evening, I flipped the units over and stained the bottoms of the shelves.  My daughter and son-in-law came over for pizza and a movie, which kept me from running outside and touching the selves every five minutes  to see if the stain was dry.  The can clearly said that the drying time was five hour (longer in lower temperatures), but I would have kept checking anyway, had I not been distracted.  When the movie was over and both the pizza and guests were gone, I succumbed to temptation.  Though only three hours had passed, I declared them dry enough and dragged them into the house so I could see them in place under the book mural.  It was all I could do not to start schlepping boxes of books upstairs and start unloading them.  The stain was not dry.
The shelves in place under the mural.  

On Wednesday morning, I broke out the drill again and bracketed the shelves to the wall.  Just to be on the safe side!  That night I transferred all my books to the shelves and stood back to admire my handy work.  Not too bad.

I’m fairly certain that the shelves would not be up to book shelf code and would not pass book shelf inspection if such a thing existed.  And I doubt very much that I will take up carpentry in any serious form any time soon.  All things considered, though, they look pretty darn good and I’m pretty darn proud of myself.

I’m almost feeling brave enough to buy a circular saw of my own and learn how to use it.  Who knows what cool and crazy things I might create with just a few more tools and a bit more confidence? 
The finished project!

  • A writing desk
  • A new bathroom vanity
  • A bench and coat rack thingie for the kitchen entrance
  • A TV stand
  • A bed frame

1 comment:

  1. Looking good sis - the best I could ever do for book shelves is put planks on bricks! Or go shopping at Ikea!


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