How to build your own bar, part 3

Carpentry flashback

by Dave McAwesome

I'm no Bob Villa, but I'm no Greg McAwesome either. Years ago, when our parents decided to toss all the handcrafted eyesores we made in elementary school, Greg and I made a little wager on who was the better 4th grade craftsman.

I thought back to all those days in wood shop. The files were dull as linoleum. The sand paper was tattered. There was only one good rasp in the whole shop, and the teacher never let us use it. Unsupervised at the jigsaw? No problem. Rasp file that actually eroded the wood instead of the worn-smooth flat files that only produced blisters? No dice. So I was understandably worried I might lose this bet.

We started digging through a box of our old shop projects. Each one had our initials stamped into the wood in the back. What were these gangly things? Rough edges? G.M. Unsanded surfaces? G.M. Uneven stains? G.M. Tsk. Mine, on the other hand, were stunning. Smooth planes, rounded corners, glossy finish. D-fucking-M.

elementary school carpentry
Not even Bob Villa's woodshop skills were this refined at so tender an age. Notice the smoothed edges and clean fit of the dowels. This napkin holder is a rare survivor of the Great Elementary Carpentry Purge of '98. And, yes, those are Scooby Doo napkins.

Can you imagine what a Hallmark card I'd have made? A scrappy kid huddled over a knotty slab of wood. My little, blistered hands bevelling the hard lumber with a whisp of five-year-old sandpaper. That's the front of the card. Then you open it. I'm still at work. My back is to the viewer, but my head is turned to you now. Big, brown, puppy dog eyes. The speech bubble says, "For you...Mommy." Not a dry eye in the house. That, dear friends, is what 4th grade carpentry is all about.

Coming up...Part 4: Choices, or 'Is this thing actually going to take shape, or am I just wasting my time?'

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