Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Different Kind of Fruit


Yes, here are the pictures of our wood project - completed!

I have never worked on a wood project that was so time consuming - nor one that I liked so much when it was finished.

My brother Curtis and I started this kitchen island/cabinet/set-of-drawers/whatever-you-want-to-call-it back in the last part of May. We continued working on it in secret until Mom's birthday in July. Then we showed it to her, but it took us until the middle of August to complete it and get it in the kitchen.

The piece is made almost entirely of plywood and 2x4s - including the front paneling on the four bottom drawers! Working with humble-quality materials meant we put a lot more time into things like sanding, nailing, and staining, but at least we were frugal!

It contains eight drawers all together. The two bottom drawers are on metal drawer slides, which makes opening them a breeze. The two middle drawers are on handmade wooden slides, and the four top drawers are just resting on a shelf of plywood. Every reachable surface on the piece has been sanded and stained. Mom selected the handles and knobs.

Working with my brother on this project was a wonderful experience. I gained a lot of appreciation for his woodworking skills - some of which I was unaware he had. He was constantly surprising me with something else he knew how to do. He also taught me a few new things.

But don't ask about the time, fairly early in the project, I decided to surprise him by screwing some boards together while he was away.

...Let's just say he had some work waiting for him when he got home. Does anyone have advice on removing stripped screws that are only halfway into the wood?

I stuck to what I knew how to do, after that. Things like using a hand screwdriver instead of an electric one, and sanding and gluing and cutting and holding things in place, and fetching tools.

I also learned a lot of character lessons. This might be of more interest to the majority of you ladies.

There were sooo many times when we were ready to quit on this project. Unless you have tried nailing plywood to plywood, you won't understand what I mean when I say it's one centimeter away from impossible. The bottom of our drawers bare the marks of many, many, many tries to put them together.

And then there was the time we broke three drill bits - in a row.

And then there was the time we cut a piece of wood to the wrong dimensions and had to cut a new piece, when we were trying to be as conservative of our wood as possible!

And then there was the day we had to put those metal drawer slides in place. Curtis was stuck inside the cabinet area from his waist up. One arm was over the a bar of wood that was in the way, and his other arm was under. The heavy old drill he was using was held out at arm length while he tried to see where in the dusky back corner he needed to put the point. I was laying on my side, squirming my arm under his to hold the slide in place, and trying to put my head where my stomach was so I wouldn't block the light. My other hand was trying to find the screws on the floor without the benefits of my eyes.

The drill kept missing the correct place, the slide kept moving over, and our arms kept falling asleep. We twisted every which way to try to make this thing work.

I can't say on what attempt it happened, but suddenly we were struck with the giggling fits.

Giggling fits don't work very well in crowded areas.

I'm not sure if the laughing was due to the odd way we were twisted, or just nervous break downs, but we finally decided to break for lunch.

...So we had plenty of times to feel like quitting. I saw my brother become discouraged enough to quit woodworking. I became frustrated enough to throw a sander - but I didn't. When one of us became discouraged, the other one insisted "we can do it! Come on - don't give up." It was a great lesson on team work.

We also had many heart-to-heart talks while working together, which was great.

I was also reminded of what it is like to work with a young man. I hadn't done any lengthy projects with a male lately, and I guess I had forgotten what it was like. I decided that the workshop was a good place to give me some practice in submission, and Curtis some in leadership: it wasn't a kitchen.

Here was an environment where he knew much more than I did. Here was a place where he was telling me what to do - regardless of age. Here was a place where I couldn't (or shouldn't!) insist on my ideas being best.

My brother blossomed beautifully. He was ever thoughtful of my preferences and safety. He constantly asked me what I preferred, when we were faced with choices. He couldn't help laughing at some of my mistakes, but he taught me to laugh at myself too. He kept me smiling with the jokes he would make about his own failures. He showed great humility - even when everything was going well.

It was a big change from the times when I was telling him how to do something. I think we both enjoyed the difference. It was certainly more restful for me, to just trust that he knew what he was doing. ...And I think he enjoyed the freedom to use his mind to plan and do what he thought would be best. I enjoyed seeing him act like a man in charge - because he WAS a man in charge. There wasn't any play to it. That was the best part.

All in all, building this piece of kitchen furniture was a wonderful time. Giving it to Mom and seeing her face light up made me so happy. Having more space to store things in our kitchen thrills me!

It's different from my normal projects; it's not made from fabric or yarn. It wasn't made in the kitchen or sewing room. It didn't grow in the garden.

But it's still fruit from joint labor.

And I think it falls under the category of "the fruit of her hands," don't you?


Anonymous said...

That is beautiful!

Amber said...

Thank you!

Lynn said...

That is really nice.

Sarah said...

Just beautiful, Amber! You and your brother (and your little sister! :) did such a good job with it! I love the stain you chose to use. I am sure that your mother is thrilled with it!

Aren't brothers wonderful!? Thank you for sharing about the relationship that you have with yours, and the different experiences/situations that you had together while working on this special project. It was a blessing and encouragement to read! Plus convicting in regards to my relationship with my brother. Thank you!

Follow In His Steps said...

That turned out so beautifully, Amber! And what a special gift to give to your mother - I am sure that she loves it!

It sounds like you had such a special time working together with your brother. I understand just what you mean as I have been doing the same sort of thing here with my own brother. They are such a blessing!

Thank you for sharing the photos, Amber - I enjoyed seeing them.


Sarah Jane said...

Wow, that looks wonderful! And how lovely you made it with your brother, for your mom.