At the Helm: Building a deck of nightmares
Written by Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer   
July 27, 2012 09:09 pm

 

“Measure twice, cut once.”

It’s a nice English proverb, but one that doesn’t apply to me when doing construction work.

For me, it’s more like “Measure two or three times, cut three or four times.”

Another good saying that applies to me is “One step forward, two steps back.”

That loud, angry “arrrrghhhh!” you heard ring out over Brookings-Harbor earlier this week. That was me.  

I’m in the middle of rebuilding the back deck of our home. I’d been putting the job off for awhile, but when I let the dogs out to go potty the other morning and one dog stepped on the end of a loose deck board, launching the other dog into the neighbor’s backyard, I knew it was time.

The entire support structure under the 14-foot by 18-foot deck is rotten and needs replacing. Fortunately, more than half of the 30 deck boards are in good shape.

Because of a limited budget, I’m using a lot of the leftover lumber from a previous fence-building project. Doing so saves money, but adds time: I have to remove all the old nails, screws and brackets before reusing it. Believe me, it’s no fun running the circular saw blade into a buried nail.

Also, I learned that swapping a single extension cord between three power tools only slows things down. It was only toward the end of the week that I realized all that time I could have been using my three-headed extension cord. Duh!

However, I can take pride in the fact that with all the hammering I haven’t hit my thumb, yet. I usually do that within the first 10 minutes of any project.

I can’t say the same for my poor shins. For some reason I insisted on doing most of the labor wearing shorts, which I painfully learned doesn’t provide any protection whatsoever to one of the most sensitive parts of my body. I even hit one of my shins with the hammer! Twice!

It’s all Sports Editor Jef Hatch’s fault. He invited me, along with a dozen of other people, to help replace the roof on his house. My successful endeavors there filled me with a sense of accomplishment that carried over to the deck project.

It’s just a deck, right?

Silly me.

Once I pulled up all the deck boards and realized the extent of the wood rot, I suggested to my wife that we call the cement company and pay them to pour a concrete slab instead.

She didn’t buy it. She likes the look and feel of the wood deck. Makes it seem more “beachy.” 

Fine, but this project is starting make me feel a little “beachy.”

Then, adding insult to injury, I learned the price of each 18-foot-long deck board was about $25.

Gulp.

It became painfully clear that I was not going to finish the deck on time – at least not before my parents arrive for their annual summer visit next week.

Still, I will champion on with the materials I have, cutting, hammering, drilling, and injuring myself in various ways.

Hopefully I won’t run out of bandages for my shins before the project is finished.

Which reminds me of a Greek proverb:

“He who suffers much will know much.”

Well, I know this:

Next time, I’m going with the concrete slab.