Archive for October, 2007

Finally – A project that isn’t hard to explain to the guys at the lumber yard.


Occasionally, I do have the opportunity to build something conventional that does not involve bacon, wax lips, recycled cans, or car fragments. Last weekend’s project was a fence around the condenser unit of our new heat pump (and she’s a beauty- the heat pump that is). The fence helps to protect the relatively delicate coils and keeps snow drifts and foliage out of the area.

The fence is made out of white cedar with western red cedar posts. One of the best parts of any project is going down to the local lumberyard (not the big box stores) and rifling through the bins in the wood shed. The yard that I frequent has very fair wood grading policy and standards, but there is still some variability within grade. Selecting wood for a project is a great way to connect with the materials, which is an important part of the process.

As soon as you start poking around in the shed, one of the guys in charge usually comes over to offer assistance and invariable asks, “So, what are you making?” Explanations of projects have not always gone well.

I was at the same lumberyard a few years ago buying cedar for Room with a View. As I began pulling boards out of the bins and carefully checking them over for grain quality, color, and straightness, the woodshed guy drifted over and asked me, “So, what are you making?” I fumbled with words trying to describe the concept behind the work, my process, and what the ultimate product would be. After an uncomfortable pause (spent with both of us looking down at our shoes), he drifted back to the other side of the shed and said, “Don’t tell me anymore.” Left alone, I was able to dig through the bins with reckless abandon. I did observe proper lumberyard etiquette and put everything back neatly when I was done.

Unfortunately, the shed was understaffed on this trip and I missed an opportunity to explain an easy one.