Monday, December 9, 2013

Building Birdhouses in a Small Shop (1)

I like lumber. I like building birdhouses

"Some people think I'm a cheap old dodger but that's
not entirely true. I'll drive a long way to buy good
quality lumber because I know it will pay for itself
and still pay me some too."
Gord H., December 2013

["Good western red cedar will last longer than I will"]

Big Steve skated toward me last month while I warmed up before a game at the Western Fair rink in London. His helmet is the size of a five-gallon bucket but it couldn't hide his grin.

"Gordie, I've got to tell you about some lumber I found. You'll love this," he says.

He towered over me and leaned in until we're almost helmet against helmet. Huge smile, bright eyes.

"I'm working on a job in St. Marys this week and yesterday I run out of lumber, so I go to an old lumber yard - I think it's a Home Hardware - and you'll never believe what I found," he says. "Two by tens, sixteen feet long, the clearest western cedar I've ever seen. No knots. And how much do you think I paid?"

I had no idea. I shrugged.

"$45.99! Can you believe that?"

Yes, I believed him. I don't know much about the price of lumber at various places in Ontario but Big Steve wouldn't lie to me. Besides, he was laughing and smacking my shoulder and we were starting to lose our balance. He was surely talking about really good lumber.

"Where in St. Marys?" I say. "East on the main street?"

"Yes, past the golf course. You've got to go. Why, you'll make the finest birdhouses ever," he says, still leaning in and laughing and waving his arms, to the point where we are almost ready to fall down.

I wouldn't have minded falling down, though it's getting harder to get back up in an athletic-looking manner. I mean, I'll fall down for good lumber.

And a few days later I went to the lumber yard in St. Marys and couldn't believe my eyes. Without any hesitation - a really cheap man would have mulled it over longer - I bought six 16-footers, cut them in half and filled my Honda Civic with the sweetest smelling wood I've ever found. The price was a whopping $312 but it will pay for itself before winter is over and I'll still have lots left over for me. I'll turn it into birdhouses and feeders and, by summer, benches and tables for my back deck. Then I'll go buy some more unless you or Big Steve beat me too it.

I won't be able to buy huge lots of wood because my storage space is quite small. No room is available in my workshop and The Annex (a spare shed) is getting a bit tight, what with other lumber I have at present. And more is on its way from Fenelon Falls too because I agreed to take western cedar off a fellow's hands who is demolishing an old dock. (That's another story.)

Sure, some people will always think I'm a cheap old dodger or scrounger but I say I have a good nose for a good deal, and though I'm happy to get a new computer or TV on sale, I'm happier when it's lumber and it fills my car and workshop with a rich arome that's bigger than the outdoors.

* * * * *

I finished a custom birdhouse recently using lovely old dry straight pine stashed in The Annex. The pine, seven slats in all, came from a bookcase I purchased for five dollars at an Old South yard sale. Call me cheap all you want but I like to make hay while the sun shines.

Who is cheaper? The person who goes to Wal-Mart to buy an ottoman from China so they can put their feet up in front of a TV, or the person who pays half price for western cedar fence slats found in 'the mouse pile' at a local lumber yard and later makes a fine bird feeder that will last longer than I will?

I say it isn't me. The above houses and feeder are made from the best lumber money can buy. 

Photos by GH


Do you make, collect or appreciate birdhouses? Tell me about it. Show me some pictures.

Please click here to view The Workshop: file it under 'good ones'

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