Sawing wood is what she was intended for

Our story so far: We were deep into the construction phase of converting a 126-year-old church into our dream home.

# # #

By now, Tyler had finished constructing the walls on the main floor and upstairs. We were ready to think about the second floor ceiling.

Unlike the main floor’s drywalled ceiling decorated with beams, we chose something with a bit more farmhouse flavor for the upstairs, which would house a bathroom, bedroom and my office: Pickled, planked plywood.

We’d seen Tyler’s cousin’s husband turn plain old plywood into beautiful planked flooring when we were camped in their yard (was that only last year?), and we thought we could copy the idea on our ceiling.

Pickling and installing the ceiling was a multi-step process that began with a good day’s work ripping boards on the table saw. Tyler chose to do this with me on an otherwise quiet Saturday.

The table saw is not my favorite piece of equipment since it carried with it the threat of cutting off one’s digits. But the boards were too big for Tyler to cut straight without help, so the foreman tagged me as his crew.

Check out that mountain of sawdust.

I caught on quickly when to push, when to pull and when to catch newly sawn pieces of lumber, but let me tell you, 20 pieces of plywood is a lot of 5.75-inch planks. And a half a bagel for breakfast wasn’t enough to fuel the manual labor. We took a couple of water breaks, but by the end, my self-talk sounded like this (if you could have heard it over the whine of the saw):

“Think about sawing, not about lunch. Don’t let Tyler’s fingers get cut. Seventeen planks to go. Who left the front door open? Concentrate on the saw. Tyler, be careful. Don’t slip in the sawdust. Don’t pull too fast. Watch Tyler’s fingers. Sixteen planks to go. Do I want tacos or a bratwurst for lunch? Don’t think about lunch. Step over the pile of sawdust. Watch Tyler’s fingers. Is that fifteen or fourteen? Keep the plank straight. Don’t push too hard. Watch Tyler’s fingers.”

Finally, the stacks of plywood were piles of planks.

ceiling planks
Stacks of planks. With the table saw looming in the shadows.

We still had days of sanding and painting and nailing ahead of us before we’d have a finished ceiling, but Step One was complete and so were Tyler’s hands.

Time for lunch.

# # #

Today’s headline comes from Mark Twain: “Write without pay until someone offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this as a sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.”

Tomorrow: Chapter 17 opens with a day in the life of an inexpert renovator. Read about it here.


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