ROUGH CARPENTRY

THURSDAY, JULY 2, 2009
Recently, I was faced with the task building an 8' x 8' shed in my back yard. This all came about when I cleared out my garage to put a woodworking studio in (a much better use of the space). I needed another storage space for shovels, winter tires, bikes, and my snow blower. Now, I must admit, to my embarrassment, that I have never framed so much as a wall let alone an entire building. After reading a book on the subject, I realized that I was going to need more than some words in a book to get me through this. Enter Ken stage left. Ken is my next door neighbour and a contractor with almost 30 years experience. I asked him for some advice and he kindly offered to help me get the shed done. Nice guy you say?...not completely. The last thing Ken wants to see from the rear windows of his town house is my poorly built shed. So after the requisite discussion of payment, (all in refined barley and hops) we set out to build the shed.

Ken thought that the best set-up would be for him to call out measurements and for me to cut 2 x 4's to length for him. However, after the first few cuts Ken asked, "Do you not know how cut straight with a circular saw?" Crosscutting material as a furniture maker is a very precise operation that is normally done with a sled/mitre gauge on a table saw. Now, I can hear many of you laughing from here and I know what you're thinking. Ken was wondering the same thing..."How can you make beautiful furniture but not cut a 2 x 4?" Free-handing with a circ saw was a skill that I had never honed. It was then that Ken showed me the art of crosscutting 2 x 4's straight with the aid of a speed square...then promptly called me a 'baby' for having to use the jig. Needless to say, I put down the speed square and forced myself to learn free-hand. Even when Ken showed up one morning with a chop saw, I refused to use anything but the circ saw.

Now I can not only cut straight to a line, but I can plunge cut, make stopped cuts, and rip a 2 x 4 all with only a circ saw. I thought I was a pretty fast learner and thanks to Ken being so patient, I got plenty of practice.

The shed is almost done now. It's taken many weeks of "a couple hours here" and "an afternoon there", but all that is left is the stain and the door. It has turned out to be a fine shed and will house all my things perfectly. The best part of the shed is all of the new skills that I learned...nothing better than trial by fire I always say. Next task...the patio.