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One of the problems perks of being a homeowner is that your dwelling is essentially a blank canvas. You have the frightening, unenviable, exciting opportunity, as owner of your humble abode, to do with it as you see fit. Turn that canvas into a masterpiece. Paint a portrait of perfect housedom with your own two hands. Or perhaps, if you’re like me, accidentally shove your un-craftsman-like mitts right through the picture.

For some folks, do-it-yourself projects come as naturally as breathing. They can look at an empty room and map out step-by-step instructions for achieving the potential they see in it. They know the names and uses for every kind of wrench on the market. They probably even wear a tool belt; or at the very least, carry with them a tape measure and pencil in their back pocket and behind their ear respectively, just in case they’re needed. I envy these folks. My wife wishes I was one of these folks. Alas, I am not.

When asked to comment on my abilities as a craftsman, family and friends who I once considered “close”, responded with comments such as these:

“Hahahaha! Oh, wait…you’re serious.”


“He’s about as skilled with a hammer as Paris Hilton is with a rubik’s cube.”

and also…

“Jim? He’s an artisan with a hammer and nai…what’s that? You said Jim Chaney? Ha! He wouldn’t know a flathead screwdriver from a flathead V8.”

Obviously I’ve stopped speaking to those responsible for the comments above, except for the times when I need something fixed in my house. I freely admit though, that my skills as a do-it-yourself-er leave much to be desired. Sometimes when my wife complains about my poor craftsmanship or my utter lack of initiative towards a project, I respond with, “Why don’t you do it then!”. My hope is that she actually will do it and I can secretly watch and take notes.

In the past, I’ve been able to trick others into doing projects for me. I’d entice a friend to assist by promising pizza or beer and then once they begin I’d say, “I’ll be right back, just going to grab the food.” I’d return 4 hours later, panting and out of breath, with a sensational tale of being car-jacked. By that time, the project was likely completed and the friend, feeling sorry for me after such a harrowing ordeal, would end up buying me dinner. In the end, he gets the personal satisfaction of helping a friend in need and I get a free meal. Everybody wins.

There have been times however, when all my friends are either busy or still angry with me about the last time I duped them, and so I’m forced to tackle a project on my own. It’s during these times that I’ve learned the most about myself and my abilities, or lack thereof. Here are some of those revelations.

  • A basic toolkit will help greatly with any project. It will not, however, complete the project for you. You still need to know how to use said tools.
  • Measure twice, cut once. But make sure you cut on the line that you just measured twice, or else you’ll be measuring and cutting all over again.
  • A router is both a computer-related device and a tool. You can only plug your modem into one of them however. This is a mistake you’ll only make once…okay, maybe twice.
  • A Phillips head screwdriver is the one that looks like a “x”, a flathead screwdriver is the one that you use to open paint cans.
  • When painting a ceiling, it is ill-advised to do with your mouth open. Breathe through your nose, trust me on this.

Below is a list of projects that if attempted by me, will surely result in disappointment, excess money spent, and possibly structural, psychological, and emotional damage:

  • Fixing leaking faucets
  • Replacement of light switches
  • Hanging a new interior door
  • Hanging a new exterior door
  • Measuring drywall
  • Cutting drywall
  • Hanging drywall
  • Anything drywall related
  • Closet shelving assembly
  • Patching holes in walls from attempted closet shelving assembly
  • Sump pump repair
  • Sump pump discharge line
  • Anything sump pump related
Finally, below is a list of things I am good at doing:
  • Calling my Grandfather for help with projects that “any idiot could do”
  • Tricking my friends into doing projects for me