by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
May 3, 2001
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- For those of you who know me (and care), my wife,=
her parents, and I spent the first four years in my new house, finishing t= he second floor. That's over 1,400 days of wiring, insulating, drywalling, and painting an 800-square-foot section of an already-enclosed home.
I know Rome wasn't built in a day, but I'll bet it wasn't builtin 1= ,400 days either.
Admittedly, we did take a year off when our daughter arrived on the= scene, and we rarely worked more than a couple hours in the evenings, but it was still pretty exciting when we all finally collapsed on the floor wit= h exhaustion, and somebody mumbled, "Yay, it's done."
During those four years, I learned more about swinging a hammer, in= stalling drywall, and smashing thumbs than most people do in a lifetime. I spent hours watching PBS shows like "This Old House," "Hometime," and "Abou= t Your House" with Bob Yapp. And during that time, I also developed a keen interest in woodworking, again thanks to PBS' how-to shows, like Norm Abram= 's "New Yankee Workshop," Scott Phillips'"American Woodshop," and Roy Under= hill's "Woodwright's Shop."
A few years ago, I figured that since I still had all myfingers, I would try woodworking for a while. I considered the tools Ihad available, t= he amount of wood the project would actually take, andthe fact that I could= n't build anything more complicated than a board,and created my first proje= ct, a wooden toolbox.
It was awful. I made the thing out of plywood, which was myfirst mi= stake. Anytime I drove a nail into the wood, it would split outand ruin the= aesthetics of the project. I was hot, frustrated, andwanted to jump up and= down on the toolbox, smashing it to bits. But Iknew I would somehow injure= my thumb in the process, so I decidedagainst it.
After one particularly loud, nail-induced outburst where Iunleashed= my wrath on the entire nail and fastener industry, and curseda thousand de= scendants of the inventor of plywood, my wife came out intothe garage to se= e what was up.
"What's all the yelling about?" she asked.
"Nails!" I hollered. "Nails are the curse of the Devil,Congress, an= d the French!" I showed her how the nails were ruining mybeloved wooden too= lbox, and explained that it was the fault of theplywood manufacturer for ma= king such a flimsy piece of wood. I also saidthat if I had the right tools for the job, I could smash the thingproperly, rather than jumping on it and= risking serious injury.
"Uh, you do know you could pre-drill the holes, and then usescrews to fasten the joints, right? You shouldn't even be using plywoodfor this." I told my wife she didn't know what she was talking about, andtold h= er to get out of my garage. Then I stomped around until I foundsome screws,= pre-drilled the rest of the holes, and finished the toolboxwithout a hitch= . It still looks like crap, and I keep praying for theday when it finally= falls apart so I can build a better one. But thanksto the fact that I used= huge roofing nails to hold the bottom to thesides, the thing won't fall ap= art no matter how hard I jump on it.
I've since improved my woodworking skills a bit, and am actuallycon= sidering building a CD shelf unit. I've been trying to convince mywife that= now I need a router so I can build the unit, but she won'tbudge. I've expl= ained my position logically, pouted, and whimpered to noavail. I've even le= ft stacks of CDs scattered around the house withlittle notes that say "If o= nly there were one central place I could putthese... ."
I usually find another little note on them saying "How about thetra= sh can in the garage?"
Recently, I had the chance to meet Scott Phillips of "The American Woodshop" at Johnson's Workbench, an area woodworking store. I was original= ly going to take my daughter with me, since we both watch the show every Sa= turday, but she was sick that day, so I took the videocamera to shoot some footage of the aforementioned master craftsman.
Scott even recorded a little message for my daughter, saying he hoped sh= e got better. How cool is that?
For those of you who don't know who Scott Phillips is, he's had his= show for nine seasons, and he's been working with wood for nearly four dec= ades, building all types of furniture and things that master woodworkers te= nd to make. He's got hundreds of power and hand tools, and he builds such b= eautiful things from wood that grown men weep just watching him work.
Did I mention I hate him?
Okay, I don't hate him, I'm just really envious. Here's a guy who i= s so good at what he does, he's nationally famous, has his own tv show, and= tool companies fall all over themselves to get him to try their stuff. Mea= nwhile, my wife says a new router is not as important as buying groceries o= r paying the mortgage.
Big Tool Company: Hey Scott, we want you to try our tools. H= ere's a big table saw and a giant lathe.
Scott Phillips: I don't know, guys, I'm pretty happy with wh= at I'm using now.
Big Tool Company: Please? Here's an expensive car and 10 yea= rs worth of gas you can try, too.
Why can't I get a sweet deal like that? Sure I've got all the woodw= orking skills of a one-eyed beaver, but I do have my own humor column, and I still have all my own fingers (plus a few more for luck).
For example, if Porter-Cable wanted to send m etheir Porter-Cable 693PK Router Kit, then I could tell everyone I knew that Porter-Cable was the best darn tool company there ever was, and the Porter-Cable 693PK RouterKit was the finest Porter-Cable tool I owned.
Of course, as a respectable journalist, I wouldn't be able to offer an official endorsement to Porter-Cable as a way of thanking Porter-Cable for sending me their Porter-Cable 693PK Router Kit.
But I'm a humor writer, and not a respectable journalist at all.Porter-Cable, Porter-Cable, Porter-Cable!