Sunday, July 09, 2006

Right here, Provenzani!

I need more sawhorses around the house. So I got up early today, grabbed the keys and headed to Home Depot to buy some 2x4s and some of those plastic little jigs. Just stick the 2x4s in the plastic, turn the screws, and voila! One sawhorse.

But as I started to get into the car, I thought, "wait a second! I've got a bunch of wood out back, scraps from the world's longest deck rebuilding project, why don't I just make sawhorses out of that?" Save the money on lumber. Save the money on gas.

I remembered an episode of This Old House in which Tom Silva gave a lesson on how to build a sawhorse. Armed with Google, I searched for it online and found the page, printed it out, and went to work.

Three hours later, I had three sawhorses. OK, that's an hour per sawhorse, or roughly 45 minutes more per sawhorse than Tom Silva, but I was taking extra measurements and going a little overboard on a few details. That and the battery on my cordless screwdriver gave out. That's my story.

So why is this a big deal? Because in junior high school -- or maybe it was in high school, I forget -- I flunked "industrial arts." Flunked, to me, is a "D." It wasn't the only "D" I ever got, but it was the only one I cried about. (The "D" in geometry in 11th grade didn't concern me that much because I was more interested in getting a date with Kathie Morse, who sat next to me.) Guys aren't supposed to flunk shop. I flunked shop.

I not only flunked shop. I was embarrased in front of the whole class while I flunked shop. We were making one of those typical wall plant holder things that mothers and fathers get from their industrial artists every year. We were supposed to learn about using a compass to make perfectly centered, symmetrical "handles." But I couldn't master the compass and made a plant thingamabobber that looked, well, drunk.

And I know it looked drunk because Mr. Provenzani, the teacher, ordered everyone in the class to turn off the machines and pay attention as he grabbed my drunken plant thing and displayed it to the class, noting that it did, in fact, appear inebriated. Yep, funny stuff for a teenager. Class act, Mr. Provenzani.

And, so I've lived with that for a long time. When I was learning to fly, I flunked the final exam -- called a checkride. That bothered me too, so much that I'm constantly reading about flying and working on being a better pilot to prove to myself that the first checkride's failure was a fluke.

But that industrial arts "D" was no fluke. I earned it. And in most of the years since, I didn't learn it. Until about 10 years ago when I started accumulating tools and began to be more interested in making things. I kept it and it and I've gotten better.

Back to the sawhorses. I needed them today because today I started mating the wings on the airplane I'm building by hand in the garage.

How do you like them apples, Provenzani?