The Frustration of Humanity

With all my mention of remodeling and such, it’d be pretty easy to suppose that I get all that stuff done with a minimum of fuss and bother. I like the notion of myself as an accomplished craftsman who always measures twice, cuts once and makes it fit right on the very first effort. Of course, I also like the notion of myself as a highly respected and deeply cherished citizen at large. In other words, me liking a particular notion of myself doesn’t necessarily imply a high degree of overlap between actuality and imagination.

Take last Friday, for example, when I was installing trim on the kitchen cabinets.

The day had gone right well up until mid-afternoon. Using solid cherry hardwood, I’d routered out and glued up some custom crown molding for the top of the cabinets on the previous afternoon. After final sanding, I’d stained the pieces that I needed and let them dry overnight. Friday morning, I applied a couple of coats of fast-drying sealer, then finished with a coat of polyurethane varnish. No major drips, sags or defects in the finishing. Mid-afternoon, I started the installation.

First piece, a short bit of trim with a forty-five degree angle on one end, fit just right. Using my air-powered finish stapler, I fastened it into place. Then I added the long piece that runs across the front of that segment of cabinets. After I fastened it, I stepped down from the ladder to admire my work.

That’s when I saw the quarter-inch gap between the base of the trim and the frame of the cabinet. Using a block and hammer, I loosened the molding, shoved it back snugly against the cabinet and re-fastened it.

Ten minutes later, on the fourth piece of trim, I made the same cotton-picking mistake as before! If I’d been hired out to me, I’d have threatened to terminate employment. Then, on the very next little cabinet, I had two pieces of trim. The left hand piece had to have a section removed at one end so it could fit in between the window trim and the cabinet. The right hand piece had to have a slight nick made at the opposite end so it would fit closely to the brick chimney. Both pieces had to have a forty-five degree angle cut for where they joined at the corner of the cabinet.

First, I cut the small nickā€¦ on the wrong piece. No big deal, small nick would be un-noticed. Then, I made the first cut to remove the section. On the wrong piece. Very noticeable. (Note to self: get rid of this guy!) Fortunately, I had enough left on that piece that I could use it on the next section. I cut a new piece and then removed the section for fitting around the window. On the correct piece. Being more cautious and deliberate, I nailed both pieces into place with no gaps on either side.

Bolstered by finally having done something right, I proceeded to cut the single piece needed for the next section. I cut it an eighth of an inch too short. When I had to cut the replacement piece, that made the only remaining stock too short to use for the final piece of trim needed to finish the kitchen. I had to rip, joint, sand, router, re-rip, glue, re-sand, stain, seal and varnish another three-foot-long piece of molding in order to finish the job. We were definitely past empty threats of firing; by this point, I’d have been demanding compensatory payment.

But, bless my soul, I did finish the job. It’s certainly not the first time in my life, hobby or career that perseverance had to compensate for lack of talent, attention or ability. And it continues to give me more appreciation for the Lord’s commitment to keep working on what he started in me until he has brought it to completion.

In some cases, the problem has more to do with the material than with the Craftsman.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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