I know this might sound odd, but I love math. In fact, I look for opportunities to use math in a variety of contexts just so I can do math in my head. While I sometimes use a calculator, there is something very rewarding about being able to figure things out on my own.
I admit that I’ve always had a high “math aptitude,” which is probably due to the fact that my father was an architect who had to get everything exactly right on projects as big as hospitals long before computers or even calculators were around. I know I probably got some of my math skills through DNA, but I was also raised in a house where my parents encouraged us to think things out.
My dad also liked do-it-yourself projects so I was exposed to lots of weekends helping him pour a concrete patio, build a garden shed or hang a door. I also helped my dad by doing most of the interior finish work on our new house back when I was 15. I painted all the walls and woodwork and helped him do five separate processes to finish our tongue-and-groove wood ceiling in the living room. I seem to be at my happiest when I am able to use my hands, work with wood and do math all at the same time.
This past fall I began a project to build a chicken coop. At first I thought I could get it done in a couple of weekends. I started building it in October. I didn’t get it finished until June. But it was a great experience. I had to come up with the plan and the design in my head, put it down on paper, research the kind of lumber and fasteners I would need, lay it all out on the ground, measure and calculate all my cuts and angles, and then schedule the construction phases correctly. I was in heaven.
But having completed the coop, I spent the past few weeks eager to find another project to tackle. Then I remembered a promise I had made to my wife a while back. I had promised to build her a “harvest table” for the deck, a long farm-looking table at which we could serve dinner when we had company. My head started whirring away.
First I had to decide what kind of wood to use. After careful research into weather-hardy woods I finally decided to use clear western red cedar. Not only is it great for outdoor use, it is lightweight, which means we can easily move the table around if we need to.
But finding the right wood isn’t as easy and you might think. Clear western red cedar isn’t found in stock at the home improvement centers, so I had to order it from a lumber yard.
I then had to design the table and how it would be constructed. I had to measure all of my dimensions and then do the math to calculate my lumber needs and my cutting schedule. I had to decide what kind of saw blade to use to make smooth cuts on this very soft wood, how to fasten it all together, and then schedule the order in which the project would proceed.
Just before dinner on Sunday, I applied the final coat of finish to the project and will tonight assemble it on the deck. I have to admit, it is a thing of beauty and hopefully will provide years of reliable service to my wife.
I mention all of this because I know after I celebrated the conclusion of the project on my Facebook page, a number of people sent me messages asking for the plans. I suspect that the idea of putting together a harvest table appeals to some but that doing all the math and the preparation to build the table doesn’t provide the same thrill it did to me.
So I am offering, free of charge, all of “my work” in the way of a set of plans to anyone who would like them. I include a lumber list, all of the cut dimensions, the construction methods and the results of my research into the kind of finish needed for a table like this to remain outside all year long and to continue looking beautiful for years to come.
If anyone would like my “DIY Harvest Table” plans with everything you need to do the project at home yourself, just send an email to: email@example.com.
The way I figure it, with just a few tools and a weekend in the shop you can build your own table and you won’t have to do any math.
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.