One of my major coping mechanisms in the face of the pandemic the last 11 months or so has been picking up new hobbies, particularly hands-on things.
I’ve written about a number of these in this space in the past, from gardening to building a PC, which is where I am writing the beginning of this column.
My latest foray is into woodworking. To call it woodworking may be a tad generous, but I built myself a new desk for said computer a few weekends ago.
All it took was a set of brackets from Lowe’s, some 2x4s and a butcher-block top. I used what tools I had available, a $12 hand saw and a tape measurer from Ikea my parents bought for me when I moved into my first apartment. I was able to build something that I’m proud of and save money over what it would have cost me to buy a desk, plus built it to my exact specifications, making the most of the limited space I have available to me.
I’ve always enjoyed hands-on projects, being able to point to something and say, “that’s what I did today.”
When I worked in construction while I was in college doing remodels, that was my favorite part of the whole gig, looking back at the end of a day or the week and looking out on where a room we’d torn out had been, or where a new one had gone up as the fruits of our labor.
In some ways, the appeal of journalism is the same. Every Thursday I get to pick up a new issue of the News-Bulletin and say, “I helped build that.”
Anyway, back to the desk. It was a project with plenty of road blocks, including discovering that our saw blade had bent horribly out of shape, and a broken drill bit that necessitated all of my drill work be done by hand.
Luckily, the weather was good, and I was able to spend all day in the backyard working on the project.
Both my dog, Goose, and my sister-turned-roommate, Lauren, seemed skeptical of the whole thing, with my sister telling me that it seemed like an ambitious undertaking.
In the past, that sort of response might have prompted me to abandon a project, or at least work on it when no one was around. Not getting discouraged by an outside response to a new undertaking is something I’ve been trying to work on lately.
It’s a totally fair response from her; my track record with picking up new hobbies or undertaking a major project like that isn’t great. My house is littered with the remnants of projects or hobbies picked up and abandoned partway through but that is something I’ve been working on for the past year or so, and now I have a brand new desk to show for it.
I also have a lot more money in my pocket than if I had purchased something similar. Six-foot-long desks aren’t cheap, and by building one that fits my space perfectly, I’m able to maximize my usage.
As with any project though, there are already things I’ve noticed that I’d do differently if I were doing it over again, namely making the base smaller so the table top had some overhang. Trying to find clamps that allow you to mount monitors and microphones on a 4 1/2 inch edge is not an easy task.
I also wish I had made it a few inches taller, I didn’t account for the width of the 2x4 when thinking about the clearance, so the true clearance is about 26 inches instead or the 28 I had planned on. I’m already thinking about possible ways to boost the height a couple inches, but that will wait, at least for awhile.
Even with these minor things, I still built a desk I can use and be proud of, and have shown myself that dabbling in some woodworking isn’t a totally outlandish proposition.
I’m not sure yet what my next project will be, but I do know there will be one, and I’m excited to see what it brings.