Yeah, experience IS required

Do-it-yourself. Easy-to-do. No experience required. These are all phrases commonly attached to home-improvement projects. They’re not outright lies, but they sure are relative.

I’m all for encouraging new woodworkers to challenge their skills and to better learn the craft, and home-improvement projects are a perfect way to do just that. Some of the Big Box home-improvement centers push those phrases constantly for do-it-yourself projects, and while they aren’t necessarily inaccurate, a lot depends on the do-it-yourselfer involved.

My shed project is off to a flying start, and the quality of the kit I built isn’t bad… for me. Notice how I said that. I’m an experienced woodworker, I’ve done framing before, I’ve handled joists and flooring projects, and I’m familiar with – and own – the proper tools to do a large project of this type. With all of that, I can handle problem components and I know what to do to either make them work, alter them so they’ll work, or replace them with something that will work.

I’m not sure that holds true for the neophyte do-it-yourselfer. In spite of the fact that the shed kit I bought was touted as a do-it-yourself project that “anyone can build in a weekend,” I’m not sure I’d like to watch an inexperienced person attempt it. It would be a painful sight, perhaps literally.

This kit contained all the materials needed and everything is cut to size. Unfortunately, in some cases components that should have been cut the same size weren’t – the length of the floor joists varied as much as 3/8”. Other components, usually the 2-by materials, were so badly warped that they would never have worked. And in spite of what the “easy to read” directions stated, not one single part or component was marked or labeled in any way, leaving the do-it-yourselfer to play a mad woodworking variation of Go Fish. I’m guessing that less-experienced buyers of this same kit were very disappointed and frustrated.

I applaud the Big Box stores’ efforts to encourage the average person to become a woodworker or handyman. But I believe more realistic marketing language is called for to avoid creating frustrated weekend warriors soured by a bad experience.

Till next time,

A.J.

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