Home Projects

In May, Tenille’s father and brother, Mark, came up to help us with some home projects.  If I had any dignity, it’s possible that I could have been taken this as a sign of my inadequacy in the home projects department.  Luckily, I lost all my dignity in college in a squash match against a high school girl that beat me soundly (which is an understatement, because she skunked me.)  Instead, I was amazed at how fast Mark transformed our house.  He finished all of the baseboards and casing (which I found I were baseboards around windows) in two days for our entire house.  There was much gratitude in my heart for a work item that dissolved away from my honey-do list. 
Unfortunately, I found I was very little help in this process, and started to work on our fence which had blown down back in December (6 months ago).  One might think that almost losing our dog a few times would have motivated me to put up a fence a little sooner, or at least put up some chicken wire.  Nope…
I did find out that the hard part about building a fence is digging holes.  You never really think about digging holes when you think about building fences (unless you’ve done it before… )  I used an old fashioned hole digger which is basically two little shovels joined together.  Actually, it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that "I" used an old fashioned hole digger… We dug about 13 holes… of which 9 or so were dug by Adam Robinson (a good friend of ours).  All I know is that after I dug my 4 holes, my shoulders were protesting something fierce.  My delicate, spoiled flab did not handle the hard toil very well. 
Also, although the physically difficult part is digging the holes, the art to building the good fence is how straight you can make it.  My father in law was quite an expert at this and stretched a string from one end of the fence to the other.  Then we just lined up the posts to the string.  He also showed us another trick with the concrete.  We just dumped the concrete into the holes around the posts, without mixing it with water.  Once we filled up the holes with concrete, we poured water in.  I had a little concern that the water and the concrete wouldn’t mix thoroughly, but the fence is still standing, so what more is there to say…
The Monday after this weekend of toil, I told my boss about what I had done that weekend.  He laughed at me and informed me of a automated hole digging tool that works like an auger.  Apparently, it takes seconds to dig a hole using this tool.  My shoulder workout method took many minutes… Up to 15 if you count the breaks… (which starts to explain why Adam dug 9 of the holes…).  Fence Building Lesson Number 1:  Go rent a hole digger – price is no object.
A few weekends afterward, I borrowed a pneumatic hammer from our neighbor, Karlin, along with his compressor.  Since I had put up the posts and the cross beams, I thought putting up the planks should be a cinch!  Just put a board up, then BLAM BLAM with the pneumahammer.  I went to home depot and found what I thought were nails that would fit this nail gun.  It was a framing nail gun, and that’s what the nail box had said.  One of my dad’s friends, Mr. Kim, came over to help me about 11am.  I was thinking we could get the fence done, eat lunch, and get him out of here by 1pm.  We started putting the planks up, and found that the nail gun kept jamming.  Finally after a few planks, we decided to go the old fashion way (Mr. Miyagi style).  Needless to say, this took a little more than the 1.5 hours I had budgeted.  Mr. Kim stayed until 5pm finishing up the fence.  I later talked with my neighbor about what the problem might have been.  After he saw the nails, he saw the problem.  Apparently, there are different types of nails – ones where the heads overlap each other, and ones that don’t.  Whatever I bought, was not the right kind.  Fence Building Lesson Number 2:  Make sure you have the proper nails for your nail gun.
Although it took a little more time (and a lot more character) than I had anticipated, we do have a very nice fence now in our backyard.  I’m especially pleased with our gate which has the best action I’ve ever seen on a fence gate.  It looks like Sadie will be safe from running away and being taken to the pound (again), at least until our fence blows down again this winter…
Big thanks to the many people that helped with the toil, equipment, and advice!  It’s obvious home projects is not my gift.  Hopefully, I can return the favor, but I doubt anyone would want my "help" on home projects…

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