Rebecca | February 13th, 2012 | feature, life list | 3 Comments »
I built bookshelves with my dad during the summer of 2010, shortly before I launched this website. I sat down to write about the experience several times since then, but found that it’s hard to do it justice, and that my heart leaps to my throat when I think about how much my parents mean to me, so I will let the photographs do the talking.
For years I have asked my dad to build bookshelves with me. His basement workshop was always a place of fascination and refuge for me. There he taught my brothers and me many of the hands-on problem-solving skills we use today. When he told me we were going to build bookshelves that summer, I was thrilled. I didn’t know that he had such a complicated design planned, or that they would turn out so beautifully. I was just glad to spend time with him.
I used the photographs and narrative in this post to publish a small hardcover book through Blurb. I gave it to my dad for Christmas in 2010, and it meant a lot to him and others in our family. I’m sharing an abridged version of that story here.
* * * * *
What do you need to build bookshelves?
First, you need a workshop.
In our case, a workshop in a ridiculously large shed. You also need someone who knows how to build stuff.
If you’re building a complicated bookshelf, you might need a model.
And then you might need to simplify the design.
You need a table saw. And blades. Sharp blades.
You need someone tall and strong to operate the saw.
You need to keep the pieces organized.
At times, you need to stop and admire the cuts. Nice work!
Count the pieces over and over again.
You need volunteers.
You need helpers.
You need to keep your sense of humor.
You need more helpers. This one is good at collecting sawdust.
You need to stop and appreciate the grain.
You need miscellaneous objects to trip over.
And Band Aids. Because you’re going to get hurt.
And a nice view, and a breeze to stay cool on hot summer days.
You need special tools. Tools that make complicated cuts.
You need to take breaks and play with the helpers.
Sometimes you need an extra hand, because it’s hard to do something you have never done before…
…but you also need to learn to do it on your own.
You need someone with steady hands to shape the wood, to make a beautiful curve.
And you definitely need goggles if you’re going to use the sander.
Sometimes, you need to look really badass.
You need to appreciate these moments.
You need clamps to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.
And, voila! When the glue dries, you can stack the individual units to make a bookshelf.
It’s time to grab a beer and lawn chair, and admire your work.
When it’s time, you bring in the staining expert.
You need a super hot guy to help you attach the knobs and lend a hand as you drop the glass into place.
You need someone with a truck to transport the shelves to your home.
Last, you will need books. (But you already have those.) And at the end of the summer, you will have built bookshelves with your dad.
You don’t need anything more.