I distinctly remember the first time Kaz fixed something for me in my apartment when we were dating. I practically swooned. I’d always been pretty useless at fixing things. I knew how to hammer a nail, replace a lightbulb and use a screwdriver. But anything else was beyond my capability and, frankly, my interest level. My attitude was: “That’s what men are for.” Luckily, Kaz was good at stuff like that. And I was good at cooking, so we kind of balanced each other out.
Now, as a widow/woman living alone, I’m back to square one. If I need something fixed, I have to either find someone to fix it for me, or learn how to fix it myself. Hence, this story…
It all started with a dirty, weathered, falling-apart wood shelf that was leaning outside the cafe where I work PT. I don’t know what drew me to this rickety thing, except that I really needed a bookshelf, and the cafe owner said I could have this one for free. (It was such an eye sore, I was doing her a favor by getting it off her property.)
Convinced I could do something with the shelf, I brought it home and propped it up in my downstairs hallway, where it remained for the next few months. Every person that walked through my door and saw the shelf suggested I throw it out. One friend even emailed me links to shelves on sale at Target. Another suggested IKEA. No, I told the doubters. I’m going to fix it.
Except I didn’t know how to fix it. I didn’t even own a power drill. And time was running out. The shelf unit had to be fixed outside, and therefore before it got too cold.
In early October, I secretly started asking around for a handyman. I thought living in a rural area, finding a handyman would be easy. Not so. Besides, it felt like a cop-out. Why pay someone to do something that I really should be able to do myself?
So I turned to my brother-in-law, who renovates buildings in New York City and has a full-blown workshop in his house. He agreed to let me borrow one of his power drills… and then surprised me with a power drill tool kit for my birthday, complete with drill bits, screws and a level.
A female sculptor friend of mine taught me how to use the drill. And I was all set to go.
On a chilly November morning, I dragged the shelf unit outside, rinsed it off with a hose, and lined up my tools.
Needless to say, the dog was skeptical.
The shelf was so unstable, I couldn’t even take a photo of it standing up. In order to fix it, I would have to take it apart and put it back together. I also wanted to paint it.
The dog was still very skeptical.
Once I managed to do all of this (without sawing a finger off), I was ready to paint.
After painting, I had to re-attach all those boards, once again using the drill. It took me a couple of weeks because I drill slowly, I had other things to do (like work), and it rained off and on for a week. But eventually, I managed to get all the boards attached.
Then it rained for another week.
Yesterday was the first warm, sunny day we’ve had in a while. I woke up vowing to finish this damn shelf project. All I had to do was re-attach the other side of the shelf and touch it up with more paint. The first part proved more challenging than I anticipated. For some reason, my drill bit kept getting stuck in the wood. After a few times of that happening, and a whole lot of cursing, I put the drill aside, picked up the hammer and just nailed the thing back together.
Once it was upright (and I’m not sure you can see in this picture), it was STILL SLANTING to the right a little, and I could move the shelf back and forth with my hand. No bueno. I quickly painted four of the extra boards I had, then drilled them into place to stabilize the whole unit (and provide a back rest for my books).
Then I re-painted . Et voila!
Even the dog was impressed.
A neighbor helped me bring it upstairs… and now I have a bookshelf!
It’s not perfect, but it’s stable and looks great in the apartment. More importantly, I built it myself and couldn’t be more proud. 🙂
Have you built something? Show me pictures of your DIY project!