So our porch has been fucked for a while. The boards near the main steps have been rotting out for years and we’ve been aiming to do something about them. Yesterday I took a break from my work so my father and I could spend the morning tearing out old wood, cutting and fitting new wood and putting everything back together so solidly that the porch will outlast the house.
We did an impressive job, not just because our work looks damn good, but because we had no idea what we were doing. Neither of us are trained carpenters. My father does a great deal of woodworking, but making jewelry boxes and toys doesn’t have much in common with rebuilding a porch.
And me? I know how to hold a hammer, but that’s about it.
This isn’t the first home repair job we’ve done together. The hall floor needed to be fixed several years back, so we ripped out the old one and put in a new one. This wasn’t a simple reflooring or tiling job we’re talking about, here. This project involving tearing the floor completely out so you could see the ground below.
It took us about a day and that floor is still the most solid one in the house, because we used the same method to fix it as we did with the porch.
Our approach to carpentry is one of collective ignorance. Neither one of us knows what we’re doing and we both know it. So when we need to replace or repair something, we study the hell out of whatever is there already. We develop a plan, get the materials, take out the old thing and build a new one to match it as closely as we can.
The end result looks good to us, but since we know we know nothing, we then embark on phase two: reinforce the thing beyond all rational limits.
Why use a one-inch nail when you can use a three-inch screw? Why use a half-inch board when you can use inch-and-a-quarter thick pressure-treated lumber? Two screws will probably work here, so we better use eight.
It’s slow, steady work combined with a constant awareness we’re probably fucking everything up, that makes our DIY projects take an entire day when any competent carpenter would have been done in time for brunch.
It also results in our needing never to solve a problem more than once.
I don’t think a five-hundred-pound gorilla high on angel dust could tear apart that corner of the porch now, so a little rain should have no effect whatsoever.