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Remember that I mentioned this blog has to do with How-to and How-Not-To? Yes, well, today was extremely educational. Mistakes always are. The actual mistake was on the part of the 6 pack a day (or more) builder, our mistake was in not noticing and fully understanding the gravity (pun intended which you will understand in a later post) of his mistake. So, here we go, the good, the bad and the ugly side of learning to do stuff yourself.

First among the lessons we learned today is to not put off worrying about something you know is going to be a problem later in your haste to start work on a really cool project. That problem may well come back to stymie the entire plan, so figure it out first to be sure the project is even possible as you have planned it. Don’t just assume the way you see something done on the internet will apply to your particular situation, ESPECIALLY, if you’re trying to figure out a problem that could have potentially lethal consequences. If you’re building something that is ultimately going to be used for people to sit or recline on, consider the load it will bear in every step of the process and in every area of the project. In these crucial instances, always double check your ideas with a professional.

Second among the lessons learned today is that even though one way of doing something seems easier, it may not actually BE easier than doing it the right way to begin with. Good luck with that one. For instance, our task today was to affix two eight foot 4 x 4s lengthwise to two wood pallets. I asked John if we should take the bottom boards off the pallets and fix the 4 x 4s in place that way. John explained that the bottom boards are there to keep the top boards from bowing. He suggested we just thread the 4 x 4s through between the top and bottom boards. We knew it would be a snug fit, but 30 minutes of pounding with a sledgehammer and we realized just how “snug” that fit was. We decided to remove the bottom boards and then put them back on once we had the 4 x 4s in place. This led us to lesson number 3.

Third among the things we learned today is that there are great nails that you really want to use to hold things together, but only if you’re relatively certain you will never want to take that thing apart, or at least know you won’t care about all that splintered wood you’ll be using for fire pit kindling. The nail shown below is so efficient at it’s job that you can’t pry it out of a toothpick without splintering the wood into shards suitable for mice teeth or kindling.


We needed a few supplies and had a list of questions regarding our “problem” that we took to Home Depot. An hour later we exited the building with fewer supplies than we’d gone for and a grand education regarding house structure. The project is still going ahead, but we’re going to have to move to either plan B or C to implement it.

Stay tuned.