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Last year, my father and a family friend closed off my back yard by adding a new gate. After multiple rain storms, one particular piece of the fence broke off right at the knot, leaving a perfect Charlie-sized hole exactly at the time I needed to keep her safely enclosed.
You can imagine the frustration that this created – dealing with an escapee puppy who was still going through the last of her medication, not yet old enough for her final shots, and needing to be 100% quarantined from other dogs in the neighborhood. Perfect timing, right?
The fix itself seemed simple enough: get a new board (the fence shape is called – quite perfectly – “dog eared”), unscrew the old piece, screw in the new one, and we’re good as new.
But here is where the story hits a speed bump. Because the fix really is that simple; yet I didn’t manage to get this done for nearly two weeks.
Originally, I’d pre-written this post and even called it “Knot That Difficult”, going on and on about how this was the easiest home repair project that I’ve completed since purchasing the Ugg-duck. I even had an extra board sitting in my garage, which meant that I didn’t even have to leave the house to get it done. Not only was it going to be easy, but it would be convenient too!
But I erased that post because I have a confession to make. This post really wasn’t as easy as I was letting on, and I told myself that however embarrassing, it was best that I be honest.
You see, the board that sat in my garage was about three inches longer than it should be to cohesively match the slope of the other boards, which meant that I would need to take my miter saw and cut off the excess. And at this step, I froze.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, especially since I write a friggin’ blog about do-it-yourself home improvement, but here it is: since Scott moved out, I haven’t, not once, touched a power tool in my garage. I’ve used paint brushes, drywall supplies – and heck, I suppose you could call a hedge trimmer a power tool. But if it was a saw or drill, a true power tool, I shied away. Even my Dremel was left unused.
And honestly, I really don’t know why. I’ve used these tools before and knew how they worked. There should be nothing intimidating about them. It’s humiliating to say, but it was really easy to avoid for weeks. I had plenty of other things going on for post material, and if there was one little fence hole, it wasn’t really so bad, right? I gave myself plenty of excuses, cleaned up the yard (which needed to be done anyway, so at least I made procrastination productive), and even told myself that I couldn’t find the tools I needed, so it was okay to wait another day. I even failed to meet a deadline for a guest post for a fellow blogger because the project I chose required power tools to produce a finished result worthy of her blog. I know – worst blogger ever.
But Charlie was getting more and more comfortable in her new home, and it only took her a couple more days before she realized that there was an escape route to the front yard. It was time to suck it up. I started hating how embarrassed I felt, and knew that I couldn’t let this little fence mending project cause me so much frustration.
Instead of allowing myself another excuse, I grabbed the board as soon as I got home last night and marched outside. I turned it upside down (so that the dog-eared part was near the ground), and marked a line across the board where the tops of the other pieces met the “top” part. This would create the excess area that needed to be cut off. After a little rummaging around and thinking I’d lost the miter saw (a lot of things in the garage were shuffled around when Scott moved out), I found it, plugged it in, put on my safety goggles, and took a deep breath. I really hated it, but I was nervous staring at that blade. Before I could overthink it (more than I already had), I made my first cut.
The cut wasn’t perfect, but it was a cut. So I decided to try to straighten it out. The whole time, I kept reminding myself not to let go of the handle until the blade stopped spinning. I still had all my fingers. No splinters lodged in my eye. And my confidence returned. Pleased with the board’s edge, I walked back outside with the board and power drill in hand, unscrewed the broken piece, and screwed in the new one.
I didn’t even get out of my work clothes. And I still had enough time to make myself dinner grab Chinese takeout.
It’s not perfect, but it’s done, and Charlie is safely contained in the back yard once more. Which means I can allow her to run around in the back yard tonight when I make a quick run to Home Depot for more supplies :)
Okay, so is that enough drama for one fence mending project? Please tell me I’m not the only one who has ever had power tool stage fright. What did you do to overcome your hesitation?