measuring time not handyman’s strength

My husband waved off the time required to re-build the deck at my daughter and son-in-love’s house, “We’ll have it done in a day.”

He assured me I would be home Monday to tackle some long neglected odd jobs – all he had to do was take the boards off the old deck, plane them smooth, put them back in place, build steps and put up a railing.
I woke up in the wee hours of the morning on Friday and took care of several of the odd jobs on my list before I left for work. We drove to their home that evening to sleep.

It was a short night. The project clock ticking away in our heads woke my husband and me at dawn.
At 6:45 a.m., he headed out back. I urged him to not do anything to wake the neighbors.
He said he wouldn’t and began pulling up boards and pounding out rusty nails. I timed him: One board took 10 minutes. At that rate, I told him, it would be well past lunch before he finished removing the old deck.
“It will take less time if I have help.”

I began pounding out nails while he pulled up boards. Three boards later, I told him we might finish removing the deck before lunch.

At 7:45 a.m. I knocked on the door of the master bedroom and explained the current rate of work. By 8, my daughter joined me pulling out nails, while the men pried up boards.

Even with only one arm and a late start, the man of the house pulled up about a quarter of the boards while the rest of us pried up most of the other boards before we sat down to breakfast at 9:30 a.m. and planned the rest of the day.
After breakfast, I suggested that my husband start planing the boards while we finished taking up the rest. Tool man Hershberger insisted it would not take long, he wanted to do them all at once.

By the time my daughter and I returned from checking out a few garage sales, a neighbor had stopped by and suggested laying the boards at an angle to add interest. My husband declared the deck needed an additional support beam and they all needed to be moved closer together, but ‘no sweat’ because it all would only take a couple hours to do it all including planing the boards.

Inside my daughter assured the neighbor’s wife, “however much time he says a job will take, I always double or triple it.”
She left to pick up lumber and screws as my husband fed boards into the planer while the neighbor helped our son-in-law pull and stack boards. Four hours later, the planing completed, my expert carefully aligned and laid the first couple boards at an angle. He motioned to the guys, “I have not put in the second screw on any of these boards. You can help move things along by doing that.”

Within minutes, three drills hummed away. One-handed, my daughter’s husband lined up a screw on the end of the drill, leaned over the boards, braced the drill with his shoulder, set the screw, drove it into the wood and kept up with the neighbor.

About supper time, as darkness descended, they stood back and admired the middle of the deck with its angling path of wood.

“We’ll finish it up tomorrow afternoon,” my husband promised.

However, as night descended that second day, they took the living room lamp out to the deck to see to drill in screws. The next morning, the floor of the deck only needed finishing touches on a corner or two, a lattice skirting, steps built across one end of the deck down to the cement patio and a protective rail.

My husband slipped outside early to put up the skirting, prepare frames for the steps and a list for the lumber yard. After getting the lumber, his right-hand man lined up support beams, pre-drilled the holes and screwed them together. In-between setting screws, as he waited for my husband to figure out the next step, he picked up scrap lumber and prepared the adjoining ground for gravel.

That night at supper my son-in-love complained of a sore shoulder as he noted with surprised pride, “I did a lot more on the deck than I thought I would.”

Long past dark-thirty Monday evening, my odd jobs at home still untouched, we packed up tools and left. Out back, the deck needed to be swept; scrap lumber waited to be hauled off – and a railing still needed to be built. Before we left, my husband assured them when he returned, he would build that railing in less than a day.