Be Extraordinary: Build Something with a Hammer and Saw.

Last July, I wrote an article on getting back to the home gym by following the methods used in the movie “Karate Kid.”  That is, by washing my car and doing other things that I had turned over to public commercial services.

Now with the beginning of the New Year, the most effective home gym is helping my wife retrieve storage boxes for seasonal decorations, cleaning my gutters, packing recycling over to the recycling center, getting outside to clean up after a storm passes through, or building and restoring things around my house.

After twenty-five years, the redwood deck I had built had reached a point where I needed to replace a few boards.  As I removed the boards on the surface of the deck, I realized that I was pulling out pieces of the centers of the supporting wooden girders. My thought was that I would remove the rotten areas and fill them with whatever the hardware store suggested.

However, the more boards I removed the more I realized that I could not repair the girders and feel comfortable that they were strong enough to hold a deck full of people.

Reluctantly I realized, or perhaps accepted, that I was in for something bigger than restoring my old deck. I needed to remove the old deck. Then I needed to build a new deck.

Perhaps to no one’s surprise, over the twenty-five years that the deck had aged so had I. I was perhaps 36 or 37 when I built the deck and weighted about 185 pounds. Now I was over 50 years old and weighed over 200 pounds.

As I planned the replacement deck, I remembered that there were shortcomings in the way I finished the first deck.  For example, the deck had benches on each side. No one used the benches. Everyone sat on chairs. The benches became places for potted plants, reduced the usable deck surface by approximately 90 square feet, and pinched into the sitting areas.

In addition, I built the first deck with the idea that I wanted it to be strong and conform to code and took my plans from the foundation of my house. I dug holes, mixed and poured my concrete by hand, and set and leveled the concrete footings. I put 4″ X 6″ girders on those footings, and redwood boards on top of those girders and up the deck went.  The result was that when I finished the deck, I had about a 2-inch step running across the area between the deck and the patio. For a few years, that little step bothered me and I cautioned people about sliding their chair back.

I had a large project in taking out the old footings to fit the new plan.  While building removing the old deck and installing the new one, I became more fit.  By time, I finished the deck, I not only weighed fifteen pounds less, but I could probably forty pounds more material.

I keep my hammer, lawn mower, and car washing kit handy in my home gym.

“The World’s Most Noble Headhunter”


Leave a Reply