The sound of the saw equals progress, no matter what project we are working on. So why this morning did the same familiar sound bring tears to my eyes and cause a minor melt down?
Let me set the stage. I’ve been at “dumb” end of the tape measure for a lot of years. I’m the first to admit that my carpentry skills aren’t that stellar but I wanted to change that once I semi retired. I wanted a project that was “mine”. Not from a selfish point of view but from an accomplishment point of view. I had a desire to build something that had my stamp on it, I guess kind of like my quilts or dresses do. I look around, or other people do, and what is seen is my partner’s very skilled work. Oh sure they have a nice coat of paint or stain/varnish but that’s not what catches your eye.
I want to build antique tables. 3 of them from salvaged wood and old legs. I want to the serviceable but hotel grade ones in my attic work space. So let’s not start with a simple something but rather 3 complex ones. I didn’t even know all the names of the parts that make up a table or that one builds them upside down. I think it’s kind of like setting out to run a marathon without training. Not that many people can pull that off.
Back to that stage. I had a message from a friend today, one I just don’t see enough of. She wants to build a coffee table from an old door and wondered if we had any spare ones (which could fill up an entire blog post but that’s a different story). And there’s the rub. Because you see G would build that door below. All by herself. Without a single stitch of assistance. She’s been on her own for the 25+ years I’ve know her; a strong capable single mother who just does. Does whatever needs to be done. She sews dresses for her granddaughters, chips wood, changes the oil in her tractor and builds things.
I admire her and yet I am complacently comfortable watching him create. Or am I?
Back to the start of the post and those tears. We started to assemble a table top and one of the first things that needed to happen was to cut the cross braces for under the table to secure the top to. He went out to cut them and I went off to keep busy. We both just assumed he would cut them even though I wanted to be lead on the project. Our patterns of behaviour are quite entrenched after almost four decades of being together. Part way through the dishes I started to tear up and it hit me. I wanted to cut the wood but it was too late.
Now truthfully who the heck is going to know or remember that I didn’t cut the braces for the first table? Like how silly to be crying over spilt milk that mattered not one wit…. but I think it’s the principle behind it that upset me. I wasn’t mad at him or myself just that we assumed the gender rolls that we did. I mean I went upstairs and did the breakfast dishes while he was moving and setting up the saw to make those cuts.
Kudos to my other half that he recognized and responded to my now dried tears. We talked about it and recognized that it’s just how we roll. He didn’t mean to take over. We hugged and I felt better. We proceeded to put the tongue and groove boards together with glue and clamps. Then the braces get screwed into place. We have one drill. This is hardwood to screw through. He offered to let me but I could see how hard he was pushing to get them through.
So, far too easily, I just moved along and did something else. Again with the complacency or taking the easy way out? G would have sweated that out, maybe even swearing a little if the screws went off kilter. I know for sure I would have been.
In the end the tables will be created. I will have had a strong hand in them. Single handed I stripped, sanded, stained, painted and varnished all 12 tables legs. I’ve been working on them for months. I redid the face boards; all those steps above and made the base cuts to size. I let him do the inset cut on the face boards – I didn’t even know that the table saw could take more than one blade and do angles.
I guess we have both worked to our strengths. We’ve worked together where necessary. I have indeed learnt some wood working skills although perhaps not as much as I wish. Perhaps I will plan a slightly less complex project next time.
When one puts it in perspective in the bigger picture these are all positives. The end result will be 3 gorgeous tables in my creative space that we both had a hand in. It’s a win — well it will be when we eventually get them done!