Tuesday, January 20, 2015

DIY & Men With Power Tools. Is That A Good Thing?

The cornercinderblock is an essential element to a solid shed.

It started out innocently enough. I identified a need. I wanted to help. I thought I could contribute. So I opened my mouth. Gulp.

Have you ever offered your services out of a sense of compassion and then realized that you might be the least-qualified person to help? Welcome to my world. A few months ago I was talking to a young woman in our fellowship at Calvary Chapel Gloucester and she mentioned how she was building a shed and it wasn't going so well. So I offered to help. Naturally, I don't know the first thing about the proper manufacture of a sturdy shed. I very likely specialize in the manufacture of non-sturdy sheds. But that didn't stop me from offering to help.

I had a good heart. I was sincere in my effort to help ... yet I was very likely in over my head when I said those fateful words: "I can help finish your shed." Still, let's be honest here. I'm not a guy with totally soft hands. I've gotten a little dirt under my nails in the past. I once had calluses. There's been sightings of blisters after an honest day's work. The truth is, I've got some construction in my background. I've worked on houses we've remodeled in the past. I have a Skilsaw. I've pounded nails. I have a 4-foot level. Dude, I've got a Sawzall. Not to mention a manly sledgehammer I've wielded enough times that it's earned the nickname, "Sister Sledge." With that kind of resume I set out to finish this shed.

The first thing I did was recruit help from guys in our church. This was very strategic. I was hoping I'd get some guys who actually had been around the block with a shed, so to speak. I casually mentioned I could use a little help and miraculously came up with some volunteers. Of course, almost half of the "volunteers" happened to be two of my sons who were notified on rather short notice that they were volunteering. But that's beside the point.

So on a recent Saturday six of us showed up to build a shed. It was my sturdy lads Brenton and Ethan, myself, and my friends and volunteers Michael Goodman, Quinn Moulder and Tius Castor. We figured we'd knock this baby out in no more than a few hours. The structure we're working with is a DIY 10-foot-by-10-foot metal shed that's almost finished. Our job was to build a foundation and floor to put it on, secure it, get it square and finish getting the roof on and the sliding door hung.

No problem right? Well, after four hours, 6 donuts and 6 Gatorades, a trip to Lowe's, some digging, voluminous head scratching and general incompetence, we had managed to get 8 cinder blocks in the ground and level. At this rate, somewhere around the year 2021, or maybe 2022, we might get the shed finished. Hey, building the proper shed that meets all state and federal building codes, while maintaining an OSHA-approved safe work site in an atmosphere of brotherly love is no small task.

Still, we had the slight problem of whether we would finish the shed. Ever. Do we just put it on a concrete slab? Stick to the original plan of securing it to 4x4s on cinder blocks? Maybe pool our resources and hire someone to do it?

Praise the Lord for answered prayers. Over the course of the week my friend Matt Owens, a bona fide/for reals contractor, offered his services once he heard my story. I believe Matt was sent by the Lord. I think at least 5 other guys bear witness to that.

So last Saturday he showed up and boy howdy, did things get rolling. I do have to give a shout out to Ethan at this point. He couldn't make it to our second day of "work" because he was back at Hampden-Sydney College, but he managed to send this helpful text that really got the ball rolling for us: "Don't forget that the fourth wall is just as important as the third, and they hold together better with nails than wood glue." You can see why Ethan was wearing the tool belt the first Saturday and was basically in charge. You can't pay enough for that kind of advice and expertise.

Anyway, I don't know how to describe the amount of shock my buddy Matt seemed to show when we discovered that all 8 blocks we had put in the ground the previous week were level. He couldn't really hide it. But he laid out the plan for us, got us pointed in the right direction and we went to work. Then this happened ...

Shed building 101: The foundation is key

Things started coming together. Fueled by 6 more donuts and 6 more Gatorades and another trip to Lowe's, our crack crew of contractors started putting it all together. Literally. I mean, you couldn't stop us. We were an unstoppable shed-building force. Until we ran out of plywood.

Within a few minutes matter of four hours, we had nearly knocked out an entire shed foundation and floor. The amazing part of this whole thing is that my buddy Matt had to leave after an hour or so to attend to some family duties leaving the five of us alone with power tools and lumber. Let me just say that when you tick off some major miracles in world history, you can mention the parting of the Red Sea, Gideon and his 300 men taking out an entire army, and the five of us nearly completing a level, solid shed foundation and floor with no loss of digits or limbs. Check this photo out:

This is is what a shed-building team looks like

I am honored to be a part of this crew of shed builders from Calvary Chapel Gloucester. And when we finish this shed up -- and I emphasize when, not if -- we cannot wait -- I emphasize cannot wait -- to tackle another one. You've been warned. God bless you all.

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