Odd jobs? Or, jobs done oddly?

IMG_1385Anyone familiar with my recent post “Measure twice, cut once” knows that, when it comes to using hand tools, I’m more inept than adept. Hold that thought, as you read on.

Owning a home means that, from time to time, one encounters various things that require repair. As the building ages, opportunities to carry out “odd jobs,” playing Ms. or Mr. Fix-It grow exponentially.

I believe there are categories of home repair which the layperson ought to be leery about – even if s/he can find myriad online “how-to” videos on the topic. These include structural repairs, electrical work and extensive plumbing work. It is also important to recognize the limits of the kinds of projects that can be undertaken with the tools one owns. Happily, this leaves wide-open fields of endeavor for the willing amateur. In my case, we’re talking about woodworking.

I just completed a long-needed home repair that demonstrates both my abilities, and my limitations. When my house was built, its builders threw together the ceiling hatch to the garage attic: scrap lumber was stapled around a hole cut in the ceiling, forming a frame. This supported a hatch that was rough-cut from a piece of drywall. The result wasn’t fancy, but it provided a serviceable entryway to the attic.

Now, about the impact of an aging building. Through time, use of the ceiling hatch loosened the light staples binding the wooden pieces, which no longer performed their intended function. In other words, there were times when the hatch itself threatened to fall onto an unsuspecting person!

I decided to replace the hatch and its retaining frame with more robust materials. I purchased a length of trim piece for the frame, a lightweight sheet for the hatch itself, and handles to make it easier to remove and replace the new hatch. All I needed to do was cut and paint the wood, after which I’d assemble the project. Simple, eh?

(This is where you call to mind my “expertise” with hand tools. Got it?)

The above photo shows how everything turned out. My (multiple) attempts at mitering the corners of the frame were not impressive; the poor condition of the ceiling drywall surrounding the hatch opening made it devilishly difficult to get drywall screws to “bite” into the ceiling. I ended up using way more screws than anticipated, screwing them into the roof joists. Despite the care I took in cutting the frame pieces, there’s an obvious gap in one corner. Sigh . . .

In the final analysis, I ended up with a hatchway that was safer than the original, one that I’m confident will withstand the use to which it is put.

.Naturally, I think the paint job looks particularly nice.


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