Size Does Matter

You know you are getting in way over your head when you are building projects so big, you can stand inside them. No, I’m not talking about carpenters building a house. Of course, those folks have to build projects big enough to stand in. Or at least crawl into – you know, something like a doghouse. (I’ve been there a few times after tracking sawdust in across the clean carpet).

And, no, I’m not talking about building a coffin – although, technically, you aren’t supposed to STAND in a coffin. It’s more of a reclining position.

I’m talking about woodworking and furniture projects that make your home complete. That’s exactly what happened to me late last year when I built an entertainment center for my family room. I had this grand vision of an entertainment center that would house a big screen TV (OK, it’s only 36″, but, the way my wife reacted, you’d think we had bought a movie theater screen and could charge admission), books, toys for my two sons, a whole host of electronics, DVDs, CDs, LCDs, VCRs and other ingredients in my alphabet soup.

My plan was pretty straightforward – build one central ‘box’ that would house the TV and storage, and two flanking ‘boxes’ that would serve as bookshelves. I would mount them to the wall up on a frame that I would level right on the concrete slab. This, I told my wife confidently, “was going to be so easy, a child could do it.”

I quickly realized, however, that I was probably going to have to turn to illegal child labor just to put the project together.

First of all, working by yourself on a large project can be the pits. Just imagine trying to square up a seven foot tall, two foot deep, four foot wide center box unit while assembling it on a 36″ by 80″ workbench. I pushed the piece off the edge at least a half dozen times trying to get it lined up.

Then, once I finally managed to get the sucker together and square, where the heck was I going to store it? I mean, I have a pretty decent sized shop – a 20′ x 26′ two-car garage, but that piece loomed larger than one of those monoliths they showed in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then, getting those three huge boxes inside. Without punching a hole in the walls. And knocking the nick-knacks off the shelves in our dining room … well, that was an adventure.

What got me through the project, ultimately, was the fact that I had VERY generous neighbors. One neighbor came by and offered me a second set of hands while I was assembling the monster case. Other neighbors offered to help me store the pieces in their garages while I assembled the job. And, when the time came to move and install, another neighbor came to my aid and kept me from putting the corner of the box through a window!

The moral of the story – get in friendly with your neighbors. If they are interested, they may be able to offer another set of hands when the big projects get tricky. Unfortunately, most will then ask you to build a huge project for their homes.

But, hey, at least you’ll have practice.

3 thoughts on “Size Does Matter”

  1. Last winter my Wife and I was thinking about a nice wood bar for our basement. While shaving one morning (I usually come up with great ideas in the bathroom shaving) I had asked myself how in the world am I gonna handle this “bad boy killer bar” all by my little self. I can’t ask my Wife to help. Her back is grumpy from too many sports injuries.

    AND SIZE DOES MATTER! We want that killer bar! Thankfully, we have generous neighbors too. However, they only come over to talk to my Wife. Ya know, she’s a “Woodworking Widow.” My wife is a very beautiful woman and I tell her that every day. 🙂

    Why do you think the neighborhood men come over and risk bad injuries helping me unload my truck and on occasion carry a very heavy woodworking machine down to my workshop.

    Seriously, I’m fortunate to have good neighbors. And I’m a good neighbor as well.

  2. Those big projects can be a real bear sometimes. Fortunately, I have my shop helper (Step-Dad) always ready and willing to lend a hand. But it can be tricky for a one-man shop sometimes.

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