The other problem that came up with the back deck was angles. I decided that my first deck, while sturdy, decent looking, and perfectly functional, was too boring. So on the back deck nearly everything that could be cut was done so at forty-five degrees. Granted, forty-five is a much easier angle to work with than, say, sixty-seven, but since everything including the steps and all of the floorboards were angled, I had a great deal more cutting to do and a lot of leftover wood scraps in weird shapes. Here’s a tip for anyone considering building their own deck: the reason that lumber comes in the shape of rectangles is a clue that this is the shape that decks were meant to be.
But the deck got built, and we’ve enjoyed it for years, and I continue to get compliments about it from neighbors and guests. So, fast-forwarding to the present day and the present deck, I felt that even though I was a few years out of practice I was still riding a winning streak. This confidence quickly ended during the digging of my first post-hole when I hit something that didn’t make that “thuck” sound that meant that I got to play with my chainsaw again. This sound was more of a “chink” and it vibrated clear up through my dental fillings. It was part of the foundation for the old porch, lying there in its grave, waiting to haunt me. Once I saw what it was, I knew that I was in trouble because I don’t have a cement-cutting blade for my chainsaw. I could have called back the guys who broke up the porch in the first place to dig up and remove the foundation, but I wasn’t too crazy about handing over another future year’s worth of disposable income at this point. I thought about renting a jackhammer. I though about using dynamite. And for the briefest of moments I really missed my old porch.
I had to relocate seven of the ten posts, messing up my professional-looking drawing and leaving me with holes that not only didn’t line up with each other, but it some cases didn’t appear to line up with anything at all. It looked as if a band of terrorist gophers had decided to target my front yard. As someone who takes pride in his work, it was embarrassing. It became even worse once I put the posts in, because you could then see the misalignment from the sidewalk and the street. One of my neighbors passing by even asked me in all seriousness what it was going to be. Obviously he didn’t think that any normal structure could be built on top of randomly placed posts that were clearly installed there as part of a prank. I had this fear every day that I would come home from work to a summons from the building inspector to answer to the charge of “Committing an Obscene and Totally Tasteless Act of Construction Involving Lumber and Displaced Dirt”. I was certain that I’d serve some serious time for this, and also that the warden would laugh hysterically at any of my attempts to add “wood shop” to my list of rehabilitation activities while in the slammer.
But I got the beams and joists bolted together, got the floorboards screwed down, and I’m working on the railing as I’m finishing this article. The article will be done before the deck, but I think of them both as part of the overall project. Because the deck will soon become a part of our everyday lives, and anything that familiar deserves to have its story told.
Our thanks to Mike for sharing his story with us
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