Three trips later

by Scott Smith

Yes, another construction project is in the books. This one is all for me — maybe a little for Robinson’s lovely couch that’s been taking a beating.

Let me explain: I work on a laptop, a $500 laptop (98% of what I do is on the web, so what do I care about a fancy notebook computer). I need a flat surface and internet. But being the old man I am, I also kinda sorta need a space. Hence, I have been working from the couch in the family room.

Diane, the middle child in the Smith family, just bought a house and has started work on an office in her walk-out basement. I want that, darn it all. Nick, who works from home most of the time, did all kinds of work for his home office. I deserve such a place… don’t I?

The only slot available to me is the concrete room, which is fine. I have off and on worked in this space. First the cold kicked me out and then baby chickens and ducks. Truthfully, I never got really comfortable. Because the concrete room’s floor slants by several degrees, every desk was awkward to work from. The new workspace has to be mounted to the wall.

For this project, I purchased heavy duty brackets, lag screws, and a 24″x8′ finished board with a rounded edge. Sounds easy, right? Well, I didn’t intend to buy the board. I wanted to use the butcher’s block counter top we had left over after Robinson ripped out the kitchen island. I didn’t realize how heavy and wide the counter top was, so I made a second trip, purchasing the finished board.

Having all my supplies, I gathered my tools from the barn: a socket for the 5/8 1-1/2″ lag screw, socket wrench, drill, a bit to pilot the hole, and my two-foot level. I cleared a space for my suspended desk and got down to work.

The lag screw wouldn’t fit through the bracket’s hole. The instructions on top of the bracket specify the lag screw size and that’s what I got. When I made trip number three, I brought the bracket with me. I went with the 5/16 1-1/2″ lag screw. Of course, I had to buy more stuff. I purchased a four-foot level and I wanted a bit to use to power the screws in. No dice. I bought a doohickey that lets me use a socket with a drill.
After I returned from True Value, I went back into the barn, looking for another socket. Of course, I found I already own a couple of those little converter doohickeys. No matter.

I mounted the first bracket. Using the longer level, I set the location for the other bracket and installed it. I am glad I bought that level — the distance between the brackets is longer than my 24″ level — because I wasn’t too sure how I was going to get the brackets level when I knew nothing in the concrete room is plumb or level.
I brought the board in and dropped it into place. Joy, joy, joy. I am very pleased. I used two more brackets to keep the wood from sagging at the ends. I placed a tower fan and lamp next to the desk. Beneath the desk is the wood box my grandfather had made years ago to ship something in (sturdy wood boxes are handy — it’s a footstool this time). On top I placed my computer, Jim Beam and an old pie tin I use for an ashtray.
Sure, I blew the budget again, but now I have a functional work surface and my own little world. What’s missing? I sure wouldn’t mind having a window to lookout. Maybe that’s one for my father to tackle.

P.S. For those who say this will collapse, you are wrong. The pigs couldn’t tear this down. And, for those who say I will probably get kicked out by Ball Jars — you are probably right (I choose to keep the fantasy alive in the meantime).