better homes than yours · DIY · education · Kids · parenting · Renovation

Day 143: A Time to Build, and a Time to Dismantle

Guess what?

(Aw, c’mon. Guess!)

Remember I told you about how my mitre saw was stolen out of the tent shed in my backyard last summer? Well, I’ve finally replaced it.

Everyone, I want you to meet Daisy:

Yes, I took a selfie with my new saw… because I’m cool like that.

I took Daisy out last night to start working on a desk and some shelves for my office. I do have that temporary ledge I set up a few months ago, but I need a bit more space: I want to hook up my laptop to a larger monitor and a keyboard so I can have a more ergonomic arrangement. I started yesterday morning by taking at least a dozen measurements, and then rendered it in SketchUp. Have a look:

I took K with me to Lowe’s (aka my happy place) to buy materials. I got some really nice thick pine slabs for the floating shelves (I think they’ll tie in nicely with the pine stair treads and handrails.) I’m using regular pine boards for the desk, and the drawer will be painted the same blue as my kitchen, just for some variety.

So anyhow, last night I was out on my parents’ driveway with Daisy, happily making some very clean and precise cuts. Everything went well with the boards for the floating shelves and the dowels that will help hold them up. Then I started on the desk box. This one had the potential to be very tricky because, unlike in the rendering, I decided to build the box with nice 45-degree miter cuts.

It was more than tricky — it was bad. The pine boards were cupped ever so slightly (meaning they were curved from side to side, not end to end, in something resembling the arrow from the Amazon logo.) When I made the miter cuts it was plain to see that the cuts weren’t straight (because the boards weren’t.) Back to the drawing board I go.


I’ve always wanted my kids to show an interest in tools and building, but last week N made me question that desire for a second or two. He was helping K measure her super-long chain of Rainbow Loom bands, and I guess he pulled the tape out a bit too far, because it refused to retract again. I couldn’t do it and eventually pulled the tape all the way out of its case.

While it’s likely that most people probably would have thrown the whole thing out, I’m not most people. I took the case and the tape downstairs to see if it could be fixed. N noticed it on the bench in the Makery and asked, “What’s inside there?”

I’m so glad he asked. I fetched a couple of screw drivers and pointed N towards the screws on the side of the case. We opened it up to see the spring-loaded spool and the lever that runs between the thumb lock button and the stop. Mr. December walked by at that point and explained how the whole thing worked. N was fascinated.

Granted, I don’t want my kids to walk around breaking stuff. But I can’t deny that dismantling things is almost as educational as building them, and it requires only a fraction of the skills that building does. I guess a $13 measuring tape was worth sacrificing for my kid’s education.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go hide the rest of my good measuring tapes. I’ll be using them a lot more now that Daisy is in my life.

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