Tuesday, September 11, 2007

day 3 of work as a carpenter's helper

i'm working for a man & his son who do kitchen remodeling (lots of cabinets). they also bought a run down house and are completely redoing it in order to either rent or sell.

the first day we worked on the stairs leading up to the porch of the house. i cut pieces of wood to the right width (using a table saw) and length (using a circular saw and chop saw). i helped to drill holes and nail tongue in groove pieces of wood to form the steps. we also nailed up white boards to the front of the porch to conceal the rough boards supporting it.

i do a lot of picking up trash, bringing the right boards, and getting the tools to the guy i work with. i dug dirt away from some columns, and i think more digging is to come when we work on the basement. at the end of the day i'm usually very sweaty and a little dirt-smeared.

today we spent the morning finishing a kitchen cabinet job in a pretty fancy apartment that faces the ocean. the cabinets have a bamboo face. i helped to put on trim and also to adjust the cabinet doors so they are straight and flush with each other and the cabinet body. i went back & forth unloading and loading tools in today's light drizzle.

in the afternoon we went to a different house and tore out some columns that are going to be replaced with columns of a different style. the house was lovely, and it sure didn't look like it needed remodeling. the kitchen cabinets are beautiful and look brand new, but the owners want something more their style. sometimes my employers save things they pull out of houses and re-use them. i felt like saving some of the boards i threw into the dumpster today. if i had a shed somewhere i could start a stockpile and end up with a house.

i think it's going to take a little while for it to sink in that this is my new mode of earning a living. the job doesn't take up nearly as much mind-space as teaching, although when we are on the job i try to always be thinking ahead: plug in the saw, bring a board, load nails into the nail gun, get the wood glue.

although i interact with my employers and a bit with customers, it's much more of a thing job than a people job. i am looking forward to being a more skilled carpenter. right now i do a lot of watching and assisting. i struggle with fear that i'll do something wrong. fortunately, the guy i work with is pretty relaxed and patient.

it's the start of a new school year, though, and living near rutgers i feel the beginning of a new year even though i'm no longer in academia. i'm feeling my way in this new phase of life, wondering what my goals will be, what i'll explore outside of work, what i should try to learn or accomplish. perhaps singing, pottery, writing? a bible study, or maybe waitressing on weekends?

well, for now i'm going to take a shower, because i really need one.


Beth said...

I am living vicariously as I read about your carpentry job. I hope it goes really well! They're lucky to have you.

Bob Thonney said...

Your desire to be creative is great. It does take some sweat and getting dirty. I remember how I enjoyed building the back deck with the boys. I wish you could have been with us then--were you still at home?