Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lies About Length

I know what you’re thinking. This is not how to buy lumber. This is how not to buy lumber.  If you’re a guy, you already know this. You can stop now, unless you want a good laugh. The rest of this tirade is for women who may one day find themselves in the lumber department of a home improvement store.

There is a law that says you must have truth in advertising. These guys have NOT gotten the message. They maybe have and don’t care. It’s just unbelievable no government agency hasn’t confiscated their measuring tapes. They should all be ashamed.

If you went into a yarn store and asked for 6 oz of a yarn, and they handed you a skein that said 6 oz, you can be sure you’d be getting 6 oz. If you went into a fabric store and requested 3 yards or 5 meters of a fabric, you can bet they’d give you what you asked, and possibly a tad more for good measure.
Not so in a lumberyard. Ask for 2x2s (short for 2” x 2” with varying lengths of stick) and they give you anything but. When I first built my cages to cover my vegetable beds, I used whatever was at the store, and went to the joist department to complete the (what I thought was a) good idea I had. When I got to my cabin and started cutting, I realized the joists were for 2x2s, but the wood was only 1 ½” square! What? How did this happen? I must have bought the wrong wood. Well, I would make it work, I didn’t want to drive 45 minutes back to the nearest place to get more wood. My veggies wouldn’t get planted and I wouldn’t have dinner.  Time waits for no veggie. The next day, I got busy.
Reclycling the corners and screws with new wood.

I had to make reinforced corners to fit over my ‘shoebox’ covers. The metal corners were bigger than the wood! If I made the '2x2's larger, I couldn't lift the cages up, they'd weigh a ton. When I tried to fit them together, nothing really worked. The wood was too skinny. And if I used the metal corners the way they were intended, the mice could get in underneath the base. You have to use screws that, together with the metal reinforcements, make the wood sit almost ¼” above the base of the bed. I needed the lip of the cage to be as flat as glass. If you know how little a gap mice can get through, you know what I mean. That just wouldn’t work. The mice would have a field day. I did it anyway. I didn't have time for the little details. 

The old cover in front, new one in back. 
For awhile, the mice enjoyed the bounty of my garden. Mostly it was the baby leaves they ate, and they were reasonable. I couldn't complain. Once I found a dead finch inside. I never did figure that one out. Pretty yellow feathers everywhere. 

You’d think that was the end of the story. But no. That was 3 or 4 years ago, and I needed to replace the covers I’d made. Back to Home Depot I went (Friedman’s was closed) and as I looked up at the signs to figure out which way to Oz, a guy asked if I needed help. “I need redwood 2x2s.” No problem, sucker, just follow me.  While too busy asking why they only had 3’ long pieces, I didn’t really inspect the pieces he loaded into my cart. My beds are 3’x5’ and I needed some 10’ sections too. That was good, I reasoned, I’ll have to make another stop, but I won’t have to make more than a few cuts with my rusty saw. Another stop, and by this time, I don't want any help. I just want the damn wood.  After unloading the wood, I started eyeing the small pieces. It looked rather feeble for 2x2s. I was too busy unloading in the dark, tired and hungry from a long day. 

The next morning, I grabbed my measuring tape, and, WTF? 1 ¼” square. How? How can you call them 2x2s by any stretch? So the lesson is: Don’t believe any measurement a guy gives you for ANYTHING. They exaggerate.