Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Go ahead and laugh Home Depot man

I know, you all thought I was going to wuss out and buy a ready made agility table. This would have been the wiser choice from both a time and money perspective. The possibility of losing one's fingers to the power saw certainly makes the DIY approach a false economy. But I kept looking at the photo of the table I was going to buy and thinking 'this is stupid, I can make that, it looks so easy, it'll be over $200 probably by the time I pay tax and delivery, I can so make this myself'. And I did! I'm not handy at all and I had no idea what I was doing but I did it and emerged with all my digits and limbs intact though my already rather small DIY ego took a beating from a sarcastic salemsman at Home Depot who had the nerve to laugh at me right to my face. I knew it would take longer than I guessed it would take but it ended up taking even longer than that, mostly because I had to practice with the saw and figure out what I was doing and how many trips to Home Depot did I make? But I really wanted to do it, more for my own sense of satisfaction than to save money which is a good thing because if you add up the cost of tools, materials and most significantly my time this is one helluva an expensive table. Cost of finally Doing It Myself-Priceless. I guess.

Here are some things I learned for future reference or for anyone else silly enough to undertake these shenanigans:

1. Protective eyewear and ear plugs people!

2. Clamps are your friend, but not too tight. Best to put a piece of scrap wood between the clamp and your 'work'. That's what the handy people call the thing you're cutting-'work'. See, I've got the jargon down already.

3. An mp3 player comes in handy for drowning out the screaming noisy rich brats in the swimming pool next door. Otherwise they will distract you and give you a headache and maybe you'll measure something wrong.

4. Keep a cell phone and a cooler handy just in case you have to call 911 and transport a severed digit.

5. Both hands on the saw at the same time. The Home Depot guy can sneer at you all he wants.

6. Getting laughed at by a Home Depot salesman is super fun.

7. It doesn't have to be perfect, we're talking toys for dogs here.

8. How is your math? See if you can figure out ways to minimize the amount of PVC pipe you waste using algebra and the quadratic formula. Calculus may be overdoing it, there's no need to show off. Bonus points if you can do all the calculations by hand because you're such a genuis and left all your calculators at work.

9. Your Border Collie may be smart but he makes a terrible assistant. Lock him in the house where he will stare out the window at you for hours in a most unsettling manner. Even more fun if you have 3 staring at once. You can pretend you're putting on a seminar.

10. PVC shavings make one helluva mess. Not sure how I'm going to get them out of my ski bindings. I had no idea there would be such a mess and by the time I did it was too late.

11. It will take 20 times longer than you think it will.

Now if only I can muster up some more DIY princess energy to paint over the horrible minty green walls in my living room that have been barfing me out for the past 10 years.


  1. Why would he laugh at you? Sounds like you got it done nicely in the end, which is all that really matters - great job! I think we need to see a picture though :)

  2. I'll get a picture up.

    For some reason the Home Depot guy thought it was hilarious that I was trying to cut PVC pipe with a circular saw. The blade that came with the saw had teeth that were too big for PVC so I had gone into Home Depot to get a blade with smaller/more teeth. I asked the salesman to show me which blades would work in my saw and when he found out it was to cut PVC he laughed at me and said, 'How's that working out for you?' He told me a Sawzall would be better and I took one look at that thing and decided uh no, I do not need that instrument of destruction in my life at this time thank you very much.

  3. Roxanne6:14 PM

    Good for you.

    I asked DIY King here, and he says a regular, hand hacksaw (like $7) is much safer and easier to use on PVC ... for future reference.

  4. There are never too many saws! You can use Sawzall to make giant holes in walls!

  5. I used the hacksaw a little bit to smooth off a really bad cut or two but I can't imagine how much longer it would have taken me if I'd used it for all the PVC. We're talking 1 1/2" PVC which is actually 1.90" in diameter.

    Who needs a Sawzall to make giant holes in walls when you have gigantic hyper dogs? A former coworker was Queen of the Sawzall, she was always putting big holes in her walls. I have no need for destroying walls at the moment but will keep the Sawzall in mind.

    There were lots of cool looking tools at Home Depot, many many ways for me to lose my fingers.

  6. I say "Feh" to the HDG! I've used a chop saw with a standard carbide wood blade and it worked fine on PVC. Besides you needed the circular saw for cutting the wood anyway... But it does throw PVC dust around. I've used a PVC hand saw and it works pretty quickly too, it has more aggressive teeth than a hacksaw blade and it was probably less than ten bucks.

    I've had the parts to make a new table for three years now... you are inspiring me to go do it.

    Glad you still have all your digits.

  7. In the end I cut the wood with a regular old hand saw we had lying around the garage. The teeth of the circular saw blade were too big for the 1X4 as well and I cut the wood first before attempting the PVC so I didn't know I'd end up buying a smaller toothed blade. I think the smaller toothed blade will work on the wood if I ever come up with another project. I only had to make 4 cuts in the wood so using the hand saw was no big deal.

    If I had it to do over I'd use 1 1/4" PVC (I think 1 1/2" is overkill) and buy a pair of $15 PVC cutters and forget the saw altogether. I have PVC cutters for up to 1" diameter PVC and didn't realize they made the cheapo ones for 1 1/4". It's over $50 for PVC cutters that do 1 1/2" PVC and you can't get those at the Boulder Home Depot. This is why I usually just buy things already made, projects always end up way more complicated than they look.

  8. Laughed a lot at your post. I've been so there. I don't have a sawzall but boy I sure stood and admired it when a friend used it to cut through large metal uprights and old rotten 4x4s and other random things that we took out of my back yard a couple of years ago. Destruction at its finest. Much better than sledge hammers.