Day 9–Building

My company, Red Gate software, has given me a 6 week sabbatical. I’m documenting the time with all the posts under a tag if you want to follow along.

Today was my first construction effort with Habitat for Humanity. I signed up to participate on a build off 6th Ave in Denver, unsure of what the day would bring. The reminder email I got noted that this was an 8-4:30 commitment, so I planned on working all day, getting dinner, and then class at night. I left early, worried about traffic, and not wanting to be late.

I wasn’t. In fact. I was the first person to pull up to the houses. It’s a duplex build, and is mostly done.

Photo Jun 12, 7 38 42 AM

I sat in the car, reading a bit and relaxing with coffee, slightly worried as the clock got closer to 8. Finally at 7:55, a truck pulled up and a guy got out with a toolbox. Another guy a minute later and I walked over to introduce myself. Apparently I was really early as 9 is when the safety briefing is and most people arrive. I helped get things set up and chatted with the two men. One is an Americorp worker who’s spent a year working in Denver with Habitat. The other is a supervisor, working for Habitat full time and managing the build.

People started to arrive, and I talked with a few before we grouped up for a short talk on the history of Habitat and what the mission is, most of which I’d had covered in the orientation for the affiliate and the ReStore. Then a safety briefing, intended to ensure people work hard, accomplish something, but stay safe.

At the conclusion, the supervisor asked people what their experience was. I’d done some woodworking, so he grouped me with 3 accountants that were out in a group of 10 or 11 for the day. Neat that their company donated a day of work. Two were young girls, and I think the gentleman was the boss, and we were doing a cleat and trim for the closet track. It seemed like 4 people was overkill, and maybe a little, but we moved slow, two people measuring and getting ahead by figuring out which pieces of 2×2 and trim would fit and then two of us putting them up.

We finished before lunch and then split us up. I worked with a new guy doing window trim below the sill and the others did baseboard. I was glad as I didn’t want to work on the floor. I also did some caulking around the windows, though not great. I suspect they’ll not use me for that again. At the end of the day, they moved me to trim around the kitchen counter, and I managed to get half the “L” done before we quit at 4.

All in all, it was a good experience, and while it didn’t feel like I did much for the house, I know that it helps keep the costs low for families that will move in.

I left as we finished and made my way over to Lakewood for dinner and class. After eating, I was thirty minutes early, and went in to sharpen my plane and get work on my boards. The beginning of class was explaining how to get the edge of our board done, square it, and then plane it. We looked at how the planer works, and also the bandsaw, though none of us got to bandsaw.

I tried to get my apron board ready for the planer, getting it close to parallel on both sides. Lots of shavings, and I think I was close.

Photo Jun 12, 6 27 53 PM

Then it was back to squaring my leg. It was once again tough. I’d get really close, but have a spot on one end or the other and it was slightly off. Finally the teacher looked at my face and said I had a small spot that was off there.

So I flattened a third side and then worked on the fourth side to square. I kept tipping things, and the teacher watched me, noting that I was working left handed on a right handed workbench. Who knew such things existed?

I continued on and got it square, finally.

Photo Jun 12, 6 27 59 PM

Near the end of the night I planed both boards, and sure enough the apron board was close, but definitely a large section on one corner was off. Still, it felt good to get close.

With both boards planed, I then worked on the edge of the apron board. I think it was fairly square, but I was too tired to bother cutting it on the bandsaw. I cleaned up and headed home. Tired.

A good day.

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