June 29, 2014

The Tiki bar deck project continues to see progress, but today was a day of one setback after another before we achieved a bit of a breakthrough towards the end. Allow me to explain. So Saturday was a good day, as my sister-in-law Tam and I worked our way through all the wood, getting it all stained and polyurethened. It was dog work to be sure, but by the end of Saturday the back yard was littered with weathered gray planks just waiting for Sunday and the next phase of screwing them into the frame just waiting for the reason for its existence.

Or so we thought.

My first attempt at screwing galvanized screws into the first 2 X 8 plank failed miserably – I might as well have been trying to screw into concrete. Not only did the screw go nowhere but I stripped the head as well. A quick consult with my neighbor John led him to let me borrow one of his drill / drivers with a lot more horsepower than my little Black & Decker. Still no luck – same thing, and I’ve kind wrecked the Phillips bit he gave me to try. Now Tam becomes convinced that even though the box of screws I’ve got is clearly labeled “Deck Screws” for all kinds of wood, I don’t have the right screws for the job. She suggests a trip to Lowe’s for a certain kind of screw that she says has always worked for her when she’s repaired sheet-rock during her previous excursions into the handyman specials she and her no-good husband used to rent in Florida. We’re clearly not getting anywhere here so I say OK and we do the trip to Lowe’s, returning with another kind of wood screw both she and the sales assistant assure me will work.

Fifteen minutes We’re back at the house and I give one of Tam’s screws a try. Same thing. We might as well be trying to screw into the Hoover Dam.

I walk across the blazing-hot street to return John’s drill / driver to him and announce to him my intention to use galvanized nails instead. Not my first choice, for sure, but were not building the Eiffel Tower here, and nails ought to do just as well. He agrees, “Screws can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, and it’s not like you’ve got a huge and complicated project there.”

I walk back across the street and try one of the galvanized nails I used to put the frame together. It gies about a quarter way’s trough and stops dead in its tracks. And it’s going nowhere after that. After it starts bending, I yank it out and announce that I’m heading back to Lowe’s, but this time with an intention of never stepping foot in the place again. I’m doing some lawn repair so while there I pick up some topsoil and some more grass seeed. Our new rabbit Mr. Honeybun has destroyed all the towels and blankets we laid down when he first arrived, so I picked up some area rugs. And, finally, it’s back to the hardware section for some big-ass nails. Surely these will do the damned trick.

Back at the house the heat is now pushing 105 and I grab the same trusty hammer I’ve had for twenty years and try one of those big-ass nails I just picked up. It goes about halfway in and then starts bending on me. I might as well have been attempting to nail through – yes – concrete. Now I’m totally pissed and hot with rage, and not even the grapefruit juice/club soda Tracey hands me can coll me down.

Tracey asks innocently, “This is wood, right?”.

I’m yanking on the nail to pull it out and when suddenly the hammer’s wooden handle breaks and I go flying. Tracey heads inside.

I think once again of why I am doing this project to begin with – it’s all because of a %$#@! cat using my perfectly good sandbox as it’s own litter box. I’m not a happy camper at this point, but it’s now getting to late afternoon and I haven’t even gone to hit golf balls yet. I need a break, anyways, and right now the prospect of hitting a golf ball instead of a hammer sounds awfully good to me. But I know I have a big problem here, and I’m now questioning if and how this project is ever going to be done.

It’s back in the car again for the third time today with my clubs in the trunk, but golf is the furthest thing on my mind. I’m sitting at a stop light when all of a sudden a thought comes into my head. What would Bruce Willis and his team in the movie Armageddon would do, up on that doomsday meteor heading for earth? Why, they’d try another drill bit, right? Heck, desperate times call for desperate measures, so I make a stop at the Ace Hardware store on my way to Superstition Springs and pick up a drill bit kit and a new hammer. My thinking is, if I can drill a hole a little smaller than my deck screws or big-ass nails, I might be able to make their own travel to the netherworld of the frame a little easier. At this point, other than calling in a handyman to subcontractor to finish the job it’s the only choice I have.

[Break in the action]

Superstition Springs is empty and dusty. The thermometer reads 107, but there’s a bit of a breeze, and I’ve got the Gatorade Frosts lined up. I’ve got a large bucket, and I’ll admit, the first dozen balls reflect the anger and frustration I’m feeling to wards the deck, the pool vacumm issue I’ve been dealing with the past few days, and Mr. Honeybun who got loose last night and ate two more power cords – one to my external hard drive, the other to the AT&T modem for my office phone. I’ve instructed the twins to find a solution to Mr. Honeybun’s arrangements while I’m away since this particular form of bad behavior cannot go on much longer.

About halfway through the bucket I settle down and and start making some good swings. There’s no one on the putting green – actually, given the lack of traffic on the street it and being the only human being on the range it actually feels like I’m the only person alive on this earth right now. I start hitting 40-yard chips to the green and actually sink one. No one’s around as I celebrate with a few slugs of Gatorade. My short game continues to show progress and I’d love to stay out there but the heat is relentless, so after an hour and a half it’s time to call it a day before I melt into the earth…

[End of break in the action]

It’s nearly seven when I return to the house but it’s still broiling hot outside – 104. I’m not willing to use one of my good boards for a guinea pig, so I grab one of the extra pieces from the garage and grab my drill. I pick the smallest bit and give it a go. It goes through the 2 X 8 with nary a complaint. I grab the drill bit I’m hoping will actually serve my needs and I give that a try. Success! I take one of my deck screws and try drilling it into the same hole. No luck – the only bit I have has been virtually ruined from all the earlier attempts. I grab one of the big-ass nails and put it into the newly-drilled hole, then take my brand-spankin’ new hammer and give it a go. Success!

Now it’s time to try it with real deck wood on top of the real deck frame. I drill the hole, then pound the nail. I repeat the steps four more times down the line at every other frame juncture with sucess. It may not be professional-looking, but that first plank aint going nowhere.

So now I’ve got my marching orders for the next few days – a mix of drilling and nailing. Now that I know what I’m doing and how I’m going to do it, I’m hoping we’re back on track for a July 4 ribbon-cutting and champagne toast. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a brutal and bruising day.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:32 | Comments (6)
  1. I am so sorry for the frustration, but I am also laughing as I visualize you flying backwards and Tracey going into the house after asking if it is wood. That is so Tracey and one of the reasons I love her.

    Comment by Jana — June 30, 2014 @ 4:28 am

  2. Here’s a hint:

    Before consulting the twins or going it alone, call someone who has done this kind of stuff before.

    Like, your brother, for instance . . . . .

    While it might not make for as interesting of a blog post, you’ll have much less frustration.

    Comment by Dave Richard — June 30, 2014 @ 5:06 am

  3. OK, Dave – you got it. So, do you agree with my approach? Would you have done the same? (Except for listening to the twins?) 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 30, 2014 @ 7:13 am

  4. I only buy deck screws but one of the beauties of buying that Makita drill/impact driver set is that I can keep one drill loaded with a drill bit and the other loaded with the driver. Drilling a pilot hole not only makes your life a bit easier, it keeps the wood from splitting.

    Comment by Rob — June 30, 2014 @ 7:51 am

  5. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

    And poorer…

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 30, 2014 @ 10:15 am

  6. I’m gonna keep all of this in mind when I build a second story that sits just above the Tiki bar roof. 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 30, 2014 @ 10:16 am

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