There’s no place like Home (Depot).

I like to build things. Particularly out of wood. I grew up in a woodworking shop – it was my Dad’s hobby. (Kind of a weird hobby for a musician – using tools that could end your career in a split second – but I digress.) I love everything about woodworking – the smell of fresh sawdust, the math skills needed to take raw stock and turn it into something useful, the feel of a piece of wood just sanded – you name it. I’m there. I like to work from a rough sketch, working things out in my mind, then putting down the bare minimum info on paper. It’s more fun that way, rather than creating some really detailed, isometric drawing, with dimensions accurate down to a 64th of an inch and so forth. I find that when I work from a rough sketch, that I oftentimes improvise solutions to problems I’d not anticipated, and end up with a better finished product. Some call that “listening to the wood,” but I’m not so mystically inclined. Still…

I like to think things through, and then make my run to my local lumber emporium. Here in Amarillo (Centrally Located Between Two Oceans!™), we have two main choices – we have two (count ’em!) Home Depots and two Lowe’s. I’ve heard it said that women prefer Lowe’s (wider aisles, better merchandising) but guys prefer Home Depot. I have no idea why. I’m here to tell you that Lowe’s is, from my perspective, a better-run organization. Home Depot employees seem disinterested at best, sullen, at worst. Lowe’s team seem almost giddy by comparison. Lowe’s generally has a better selection, competitive prices, and (I think) a little better grade of lumber. And yet, I find myself going to Home Depot more often. It’s not because I like Home Depot better. I don’t. (In fact, I find the service there generally appaling. And if you want something that’s a little exotic, or even not what the masses buy, fuggetaboutit.) However Home Depot is more conveniently located for my purposes than Lowe’s is. I can save 10 to 15 minutes by going to HD, even though I like Lowe’s better. (What does that say about marketing and merchandising versus “location, location, location”?)

I have a little different metric when it comes to judging the success – or failure – of a project. I count the trips I have to make to the store for lumber/screws/tools/bits/et cetera. The scale goes something like this:

  • One trip = I am a demigod of woodworking. I eat problems for lunch.
  • Two trips = Not too bad for a weekend woodworking warrior.
  • Three trips = Things happened.
  • Four trips = Bad things happened. The gods of woodworking show scorn and general derision.
  • Five trips = Tell me again how I thought this was a good idea.

I don’t know what happens after five trips. I’ve never (yet) gotten that far. But tonight I can see that as a distinct possibility.

I’m making a multi-guitar stand. Didn’t find anything at our local Guitar Center that I liked. They had one – for an outrageous $70 – that would have worked, but it didn’t look as if it was built to last, and was pretty ugly. I figure I can do better. I just got back from my third trip to Home Depot (after ruining an $18 piece of red oak) and if I can’t get my router to behave, there may be more trips in my future. The thing I’m building requires some precision cuts in the wood – the thing fits together like a jigsaw puzzle – and I want to get this thing right the first time. I’d be working on it right now, except I’ve learned a valuable lesson over the years – when I’m tired, I make stupid mistakes. Stupid mistakes = emergency room visits when you’re working with wood. So I’m done for the night.

If/when I get this puppy built, I’ll post some pictures here. If I get enough interest, I might have them produced (by a professional – I’m not a complete idiot) and see if I can sell them for some real money.

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