Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Back Porch Project

I have not posted on this blog for quite some time now. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is spring. Spring always brings an abundance of thing to do, mostly outdoors and away from my workshop. There is yard clean-up, planting and lawn maintenance. I haven’t been doing any small woodworking projects; instead I have been totally consumed by one big one. I built a new wooden back porch.

In simple terms, the porch is a platform with two steps. I could have worked in simple rectangular shapes, but no, I had to get complicated. My design had 45 degree angles and had to fit in over the existing porch which was a crooked, sinking concrete monolith. I even built a cardboard model to get the approval of the “authority having jurisdiction”, namely, my wife. I also had to draft fairly detailed plans since many of the measurements had to be precise.


This project took a long time to complete, far longer than I had imagined. A good friend of mine told me that when you have a project like this, you should figure out how much time it will take to finish it; then double the estimate…then multiply by ten. He was not far from wrong.

The end result is not perfect, but it is functional and looks good. I learned a few things from this project. First, I learned that words like “level” and “square”, which I always thought were absolutes, turn out to be suggested goals. I learned that driver screws and metal corner brackets result in an unbelievably strong construction. The porch could probably support an elephant. I learned that wet wood shrinks after it dries. This should not have been a surprise to a wood person like me, but I learned the hard way. The 1/8” gaps between the decking boards are now ¼” gaps. Finally, I learned not to be a perfectionist.