Canadian Woodworking

Stir Crazy in Isolation

Author: James Jackson
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: August September 2020
stir crazy in isolaton
stir crazy in isolaton

Between working from home, dealing with your young kids, and maintaining your sanity, there isn’t a lot of time or energy left over for honing those carpentry skills.

So how has everyone been managing during this period of social isolation?

No doubt we’ve all had plenty of time to toil away in the workshop, perfecting those difficult techniques that we said we’d always learn if we just had a little more time and fewer distractions at work.

Or, if you’re like me, you’re toiling away in a makeshift basement home office attempting to return phone calls and emails using a spotty wireless internet connection all the while trying to tune out your two kids, both under the age of five.

Social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic has been any­thing but a home carpentry dream. Here are a few observations from my COVID-19 isolation:

If you really need an excuse to fix that hole in the drywall six months after moving the thermostat (that’s a whole other story you read about in an earlier issue), try staring at it for a couple of weeks straight while stuck in isolation. It won’t take long before you go online, order a drywall patch and learn how to use it.

By the way, it’s harder than it seems to seamlessly blend those patches with the existing wall.

In fact, the entire list of things to do doesn’t go away just because a global health emergency forced businesses to close and people to socially isolate in their homes. The items that are on the list seem all the more pressing when you’re home 24 hours a day and they’re staring you in the face all day.

People had really bad taste in paint colour decades ago. I took down an old kitchen cupboard that hung above the dinner table only to uncover khaki brown, canary yellow, robin’s egg blue and avocado green. No doubt, a few years from now the light grey we covered those colours with will seem cold, unwelcoming and outdated.

As my wife prepared to load a 13-pound turkey into the roasting pan for Easter dinner, she asked if I had any spare twine or string to tie the legs. I didn’t, but what I did find was a spool of 16-gauge wire. “I think this will work,” I told her. And it did.

If you’re trying to hang a shelf in the middle of a wall, and the wall is only about eight feet long and centered between two door­frames, people will definitely notice if it’s off centre by just an inch or two. Especially your significant other.

Oh, and stabbing yourself in the palm of your hand with one of those mini screwdrivers used for dismantling electronics really, really hurts.

Working from home sucks. Your routine is all out of whack. Showering becomes a rare occurrence. Meals just turn into day-long grazing sessions. You’re less likely to venture into the outside world. Home centres are closed and you have to order ahead. And your kids will drive you crazy.

But you know what? Once this virus clears up and we’re finally allowed back to work and school, I know I’m going to miss them.

Stay safe and take care.

James Jackson - [email protected]

James is a woodworker, a freelance writer, a former newspaper reporter and father to two amazing girls.

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