Self-portrait in the bathroom mirror: note the pencil behind the ear, a portent.

Tool Girl Redux

Self-portrait in the bathroom mirror: note the pencil behind the ear, a portent. Self-portrait in the bathroom mirror: note carpenter’s pencil behind the ear.

Last spring, when I was starting to feel like I knew what I was doing with finish carpentry, I said confidently to my builder, Dan Thomas of Natural Habitats, “I’ll do the trim work for the new house.”

Big words. By the time I moved the air compressor out of Terraphilia and finished the final details, I had rethought that pronouncement.

For one thing, I’m slow. I have to figure out everything–tools, materials, design–step by step. If I were experienced, a lot of that would be automatic. (Which isn’t always good–sometimes the best solution isn’t the habitual one.)

For another, I had a few other things to do: pack, sort, organize, sell, and move.

A steel rod with an eyelet at each end holds lace curtains, and slides out to remove them. A steel rod with an eye hook at each end holds lace curtains, and slides out to remove them.

And I was simply burned out. I had pushed so hard for so long to finish the work at Terraphilia (and did, thanks to the help of various friends) that I had zero interest in plugging in the air compressor and picking up my tools again.

I didn’t even organize my new workshop just off the garage at Treehouse. My neighbor Bev helped me move the crates and bins of tools, and there they sit, unpacked.

I’ve done a few little things: I hung a couple of robe hooks, screwed a paper towel dispenser under a kitchen cabinet (the screws supplied were too long, so that was a learning experience), laid carpet tiles in my office, and invented clever steel-rod-and-eye hook curtain holders for the French doors.

Others did the big stuff: finished and put up the trim and baseboard (thank you, Mackie and Verlin), built the kitchen cabinets and the desk and bookshelves in my office (thanks, Rob and Rachel), and built the counter and pantry shelves in the utility area of the bathroom, the workbench in the shop and the shelves in the garage (many thanks, Eric)….

There’s still plenty to do to make life in 725 square feet comfortable. For instance, I have only one closet, which is of course in the bedroom. My coats and jackets ended up buried in the back of it.

The compound miter saw is built into my workbench. The board (a scrap of trim) that will be the base for the coat rack. (The sign on the back of the workbench is from a gallery that carried Richard’s work.)

The other day I had an aha! moment and realized that the wall behind my bedroom door would accommodate a coat rack. I could have bought one, but really, why would I?

I perused the selection of  hooks at Hyltons, the lumberyard a block away, and bought four.

This afternoon, I went out to my workshop, sorted through the scrap pile, and found a length of 1X4 trim perfect for a base for the hooks.

I cut the board to length with my miter saw, searched through bins until I found my random orbital sander and sanded the front and edges.

Screws, bits and drivers for my cordless drill, hooks, the drill, tape measure, the rack base, and my little torpedo level Screws, bits and drivers for my cordless drill, hooks, the drill, tape measure, the rack base, and my little torpedo level

I found the appropriate color of paint to match the wall, dug out my good brushes, and painted the board.

Then I brought my coat-rack base inside and assembled tools for mounting it to the wall and screwing on the hooks. I figured out where I wanted the rack on the wall, leveled it, marked the corners, and checked to make sure I knew where the studs were.

I was feeling pretty competent until I drilled the first hole and found no stud. Huh. I drilled another hole and ditto.

So I got one of those clever plastic drywall anchors, tapped it into the first hole and screwed into it. At least I knew what to do….

My brand-new coat rack, already full. My brand-new coat rack

I got the board up, measured the spacing for the hooks, drilled holes for their screws, screwed them in, and voila! I have a coat and hat rack, neatly hidden behind the open bedroom door, yet still easily accessible.

It’s nothing fancy, but I made and installed it myself. I forgot how satisfying that is.

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