If you’ve been within earshot of me in the last three months, you no doubt know that this fall I enrolled in construction school at my local college of applied technology. My half-sister Polly and I are both in the class, which meets four days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is filled with circular saws, nail guns, hammer drills, and a bunch of guys half our age. I wear overalls everyday.
It has been an amazing experience on many levels, and it starts again January 4, when our class will begin to construct a tiny office to sell. (Pssst, wanna buy a tiny office?)
In the spirit of holiday TV binge-watching, here’s a wrap-up of the first season of a middle-aged mom in construction school. Previously on BuildMeUpButtercupBlog…
Our first project was making shadowboxes. Little did Polly and I know how much relevance this craft project, which involved nail guns and 45-degree cuts on the compound miter saw, would have once we began to apply the same tools and techniques to the larger project of building a tiny office.
Saws. I do not believe they can be trusted. Nonetheless, I asked Santa for a jigsaw, and he delivered. I’m still wary of table saws and circular saws, like the one seen here.
Our class was tasked with building a set of garage doors for the school utility shed. One classmate—an experienced carpenter from Egypt, who is in the class to improve his English—led the project, which resulted in two gorgeous panels. We have not installed them yet, but I’m looking forward to a grand opening in the new year.
That same carpenter is a whiz with a router, which he taught me to use. Whenever I chipped the edge of the wood with my aggressive clumsiness, he said simply, “No problem.” I used a router to make this shield for my decoupage taxidermy. After the jigsaw, the router is my favorite tool.
After several days of observing and assisting on a real-life building site, we came back to school and started our own demonstration roof. We built low walls, then installed rafters, sheathing and shingles on a gable. Then we tore it down and started again with a hip roof, all in preparation for our upcoming tiny office project.
Two truly wonderful things have happened over the trimester. First, my half-sister Polly (pictured above, on the left) and I have made up for a lot of the lost time when we were growing up and didn’t really know each other very well.