Green fingernails and evenings well spent

My neighbour, H, is making me a shelf. It started as an offer to put my coat hooks up. I told him the rack he was holding wasn’t for coats and we came to a strange sort of compromise where he agreed to build me a shelf which I could hang coats on.

Over the weekend he glued and sawed and sanded and planed and did whatever carpenters do when making shelves.

Yesterday he brought me the raw wooden shelf (it’s beautiful) and a box of different wood dyes which he proceeded to spread on a couple of cut off edge pieces so I could choose one. I didn’t think any fitted quite right. I wanted green. Apparently green isn’t a colour he uses all that often..

Tonight, after work, I stopped to buy fishfood and green wood dye powder. And turkey for a thank-you curry.

I was still frying onions and chopping peppers when H arrived. He stood and watched for a minute or so before pulling out his penknife and adjusting the doors on the kitchen cabinets. It seems carpenters are incapable of ignoring badly hung doors. Never one to stop other people working, I found him a decent screwdriver or two and pointed him in the direction of the sitting room and all my other cupboards. My floorboards are anything but level, and I don’t think any of the cupboard doors hung straight. I also had a cupboard where the door opened the wrong way. No longer πŸ™‚

The cupboards and the curry were both finished/ready around the same time.

At the first lull in the after dinner conversation, H leapt up, announced his intention of clearing up, and started running hot water into the sink, ready to wash up. At this rate I’m going to be cooking thank-you dinners for a while… πŸ˜‰ I certainly stand no chance of drying faster than he washes.

The wood dye is astonishingly easy to mix and keeps for 6 months or so in a jar. I bought 2 packets, a light and a dark green, just in case the labels were misleading. The first trial pieces were painted in a matter of minutes, leaving us time to talk about different sorts of sealing coats, wax or varnish, matt or shiny, and the best kinds of joints to stop the wood twisting out of shape.

Tomorrow I can paint/dye the shelf.

By the end of the week it should be up on the wall – can’t wait to see it finished πŸ™‚

On what I learned from building a bookcase this weekend

* There’s a lot to be said for getting wood cut professionally – the corners were square and it didn’t wobble when we joined it together.

* There’s also a lot to be said for measuring properly. Which we didn’t. There’s a lot of difference between 1370 and 1365mm. Especially when that’s the measurement all the rest are based on. (If one shelf is too long, the rest will be too).

* The plan worked brilliantly, apart from the measuring mistake. CAD really is good in real life after all.

* Mistakes sometimes lead to better results. We cut the corners off the too-long-planks so they fit flush against the wall instead of square to each other. I think it looks better that way – I’d originally planned for them to be sloped, but been talked out of it because it’s more complicated…. :).

* Arguing with old men about how to line things up isn’t worth it, even if you have to live with the wonky consequences.

* You can get a lot done in a very short time, if there’s a promise of good food ahead (and the fear of the wrath of a woman left waiting if you turn up late to lunch!).

* Concentration levels sink drastically at about 5pm, as do patience thresholds.

* Frequent loo breaks are a must.

* 90 degree clamps are a Godsend..


* …as are drill templates πŸ™‚

* Woodworking ability is genetic. If your uncle was a carpenter, it stands to reason that you are equally capable πŸ™‚ obvious when you think about it.

* Oak is HEAVY!!

* You can wash pencil lines off. Biro lines are a whole lot tougher.

* Old men are incapable of drilling at anything other than 90 degrees to the wood they’re drilling. (What looks more like 80 degrees is an optical illusion).

* Sometimes you have to rethink your plans.

* Sometimes you have to think in multiple directions.

* Sometimes you have to drill in multiple directions.



* Pencils have a tendency to wander. Make sure you have more than one…