Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

image of lost continent railway

Here’s an update on my project to glue together every piece of scrap lumber in my workshop until it fills one whole end of the basement. As you may be able to tell from the helpfully-placed photograph, it’s coming along well.

To be perfectly candid, not every bit of it is scrap wood. I’ve made quite a few trips to the local hardware store to buy about a half-dozen two by four-foot sheets of plywood that I cut into strips and used in various ways, mostly to substitute for high-quality lumber that would have cost me an arm and a leg if I’d built something this big with the good stuff. It’s the cheapskate gene in me taking over. Plywood is sooo cheap, and easy to cut into almost any size and shape I need.

But quite a lot of the wood in this bench came straight out of my scrap pile with only a cut or two on the miter saw to clean it up and make it usable. Just this evening I was rifling through the boxes of sticks and stub ends to find pieces I could use to support the slabs of ply that will be the ground under the railroad tracks. I get about two usable sticks for every splinter in my hand. I don’t know if that’s typical for most people. They’re almost all annoying at worst and easily plucked out between the nails on my thumb and forefinger, so I keep on digging.

About once a day, though, I end up with a splinter that’s not quite so innocuous and, even though it’s still pretty easy to pull out, doesn’t let go without drawing blood. A little cussing goes a long way toward making these bearable.

Then, maybe about once a week, I get one that slides in just under the skin, not too deep, so I can clearly see it, and the end breaks off at the surface, denying me a handle to get hold of it. “Go ahead, try to get me out,” these taunt me. Fingernails and cussing won’t do anything but drive these deeper into my flesh. These call for much more drastic measures. These get the sharp end of a knife.

There seems to be an unspoken agreement among most people that prevents them from digging at their flesh with knifes while in view of the public. I can usually keep this in mind but, the other night when I caught one of these splinters that stung in the worst way, I grabbed the first sharp instrument at hand, a craft knife, the kind you usually see construction workers use to slice open cardboard boxes, and started chopping away at my middle finger, forgetting for the moment that I was in the middle of making a remark to my youngest son.

“I can’t believe you’re doing that,” he said after watching me, without comment, for about a minute.

Splinters! | 9:51 pm CDT
Category: entertainment, hobby, LoCo Rwy
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