It’s summer break at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, so we’ve been out of school for a couple weeks. I find myself feeling slightly out of sorts with idle hands, searching Craigslist for cheap tools, channel-checking YouTube for DIY videos, and scouring estate sales for lumber.
Poor Paul at Lowes. I wore him out with my questions about how to use a Kreg jig. I’ve been obsessed with the elegant little device used to make pocket holes for screwing wood together. Lowes didn’t have the jig I wanted, but Paul steered me to a discount on sawhorses, which I’ve needed ever since the family gave me a DeWalt cordless circular saw for my birthday. And I got a stud finder. (That’s what she said.)
Now that I’ve got sawhorses, I need a flat surface to lay across them. So the next day, I combed garage sales for old doors. I was semi-successful, finding a single bifold louvered door of unpainted wood for four bucks. It didn’t solve the sawhorse problem, but I suppose I’m halfway to opening a saloon in the Old West.
The next day I went to an estate sale at the top of the hill, in a house that was probably demolished five minutes after I left. That’s how things are going in Nashville these days. Anyway, I shimmied back into the dark crevices of the basement, where they kept the brown recluses, and found an old door like something out of a horse stable, with crisscrossed 2 x 4’s topped with 1-by-4 planks. Crazy heavy, with added benefit of paint and patina, it was just what I needed.
It was half-price day at the estate sale, so I gathered up a couple stakes for my cucumber plants and an old window for a greenhouse I am working on, and carried my haul to the checkout man. My pre-discounted total was $25, and I was prepared to pay him the full $12.50.
“That’ll be $15,” he said.
“What now?” I asked.
He did some fake math and again arrived at $15. I countered with real math and $12.50.
“Ma’am, I can’t let you have that door for $5. There’s just way too much wood in that.”
I took his point. Then again, that was the curious contract we had entered into: I shimmy back into the crevices with the brown recluses and he sells me a gloriously heavy wooden door for pennies on the dollar.
“What are you going to do with that door anyway?” he asked.
I explained about my new sawhorses and the Kreg jig and my salvaged-window greenhouse plan.
Then a curious thing happened. He took my hand in his and said some things that, as best I could decipher, were equally motivated by Judeo-Christian philosophy, empathy for a fellow woodworker, and an ardent belief that the Lord was speaking through him at that moment.
Apparently, the Lord believed I needed that door for $5, because the estate sale man finally accepted my $12.50.
“Not everyone would have argued with me about that wood,” he said, as I dropped two quarters into his palm. Then he touched my forehead with a single finger and added, “This is going to be an important year for you. I can tell.”