I have busied myself with carpentry projects around the house.
Not that I need to really busy myself, but that the aspiration to learn to put things together in more of a coherent and concrete sense than I have managed to do in the past, has been a little stronger. I have completed a cubby house for the Little Fellas which between myself and them is bound to get little refurbishments and creative additions over time.
There are other projects still to progress further. Stuck currently as they are in that frustrating (frustrating to me …) world of limbo and uncompletedness. But as I have become accustomed to over the past years in particular, it will come to pass, just not as soon as I would like. These projects get worked on in the time between times.
Initially I had no idea that wedged between me and my grand plan of a hot house/chicken yard was a kids cubby house. The Little Fellas had it all worked out beforehand mind you. Of course. But as I thought about it, I sold myself on the concept. I could use some of the rougher timber cuts around and also tidy up the place in advance of getting the foundations worked out for the green house. The biggest plus I could see was that it might possibly, hopefully, keep the Little Fellas occupied whilst I set about finishing the other projects. It was also a good reason to get them involved in putting it together, though they got distracted easily, they picked up a few skills they didn’t have to begin with and it consolidated some teachings we’d been over previously like using multiplication, taking measurements and finding a level. How convenient also to work on something that would enable me to get my hand back in for constructing stuff.
The other benefit which had not previously revealed itself was that they were learning the names for tools and what they were primarily used for. This meant that when I found myself in those unrelenting circumstances of sheer bothersomeness, I could call out to one or the other to ‘Please hand me the Philips head.’ or ‘Have you seen the crescent?’
The other thing I have learnt – though always suspected – is that there is a world of reasonably good timber out there that probably just goes to waste. Shocking and disgusting really. I picked up a few extra pallets from around the place and as I was taking them apart I found myself making calculated decisions on which parts would best lend themselves to which structures. There are businesses out there wanting to get rid of their delivery pallets, and few who take up the offer.
Admittedly I have hoarded piles of timber ever since our house renovation began and a little time before that. In my minds eye I had a sense of what was coming and what I might need to reach the vision. I could never have guessed how quickly I would get through the stockpile though. I have partially constructed a trellis, made a cubby house, dressed up the outside of our banana gardens with a timber fascia and of course constructed the raised garden beds.
Which brings me to tools. I have not purchased any of the tools (or timber) I have used. Some were handed to me from my father and some from my grandfathers no doubt. My father-in-law left behind virtually an Aladdin’s Cave of tools and items. Even the nails and screws I have used were either handed down or carefully extracted from their previous dwellings in old fence posts or floor boards, pallets or hutches.
Towards the near completion of the cubby house I was reflecting on this situation. I remember my Dad making various timber constructions during my childhood and being mindful of nails and screws and other things that might, after a deconstruction, be useful for future constructions.
I recalled the conversations with my wife over how her Dad was going through so much money in the last few years of his life – and yet we couldn’t account for much of it. I have come to the conclusion myself that the bulk of it was spent on alcohol (he eventually decided to self-medicate for the high level of pain he was in) and hardware items. The latter was confirmed when I actually started sorting out the garage. We are convinced that if he was not able to locate a particular tool in the disarray that consumed his poky little shed, he would go and purchase another. But in the visit to the hardware store, he also inevitably, undoubtedly, discovered probably a half dozen other things that he just had to have.
The reality of it all became evident soon enough. There are only so many hammers, glue guns, spirit levels, hand saws, screwdrivers and other basic handyman paraphernalia that you really need. Anything over seven draws suspicion, above and beyond accounting for two houses and a farm. The hidden benefit to all of this is that I am sitting on a salvage yard of resources that I can draw upon to render my grand design into its physical form. AND have enough tools to make up a proper, well-rounded tool box for myself and each of the Little Fellas. I plan to teach them both not only what the tools are and what they are used for, but also how to look after them. They could well be passing them on to their children or grand-children.
So here’s to the Pa’s and Pop’s and Grandads from times gone by who have passed on their skills and tools so that we can create a little paradise of our own, and for future generations. Those men of creative carpentry and ‘making do’ with what you could get. The Men of Imagination who worked with a reverence for fallen forests and rusty nails.