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A little red shed


It started out as an idea on some scratch paper, evolved to graph paper, and then those diagrams looked like a design from the great American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The shed is a practical addition worthy of envy from the neighbors. On paper.

Even at home, you plan the work and work the plan, just like any other work site. The idea is simple; use the proper tool for the job and follow the plan. Most workers instinctively know the floor is first and the roof goes on last. So far so good.

The purchase of materials goes according to the diagram and construction begins. Frame the floor and place the support beams at optimal spacing based on assumed load capacity. This requires a return trip for materials not listed on the diagram. Although it happened frequently, it is not considered a cumulative trauma disorder from repetitive motion. It is another type of disorder to be discussed later.

During construction sensible safety tips are easily recalled; remembering to use proper body positioning, use hearing protection with power tools and wear gloves when handling rough materials. But, remembering practical construction tips aren’t as easily recalled. One very important practical rule to use is; measure twice, cut once. There is a return trip at this point.

With the floor in place (level and square) the rear wall is laid out, pieced together and nailed together on the driveway. The end result looks good, and would look better off the driveway and braced vertically on the floor. Lifting techniques are now brought to mind and being acutely aware of what a 2-person job is, a slight delay is in order.

On a work site, if the scope of work changes it is a good idea to regroup, discuss the change and have a path forward. Usually the break offers the answer to the concern, as it did here; when help arrived. The help, totally unaware, was volunteered on the spot. A quick toolbox meeting and issuing of PPE (gloves) had everyone knowing what to do.

The rest of the framework proceeded, mostly uneventful. Although remembering other forgotten construction tips did surface, such as reversing the diagram for opposite measurements. The studs on the side walls, although even, are offset from one another, and thankfully covered by siding.

The construction of the roof and installing siding are also uneventful. Painting the siding before installing saves lots of time and the same is true for the trim. Note: Trim carpenters deserve the utmost respect to be shared by all. Handling power tools to screw on trim work is a delicate process that requires a certain finesse. However, mistakes can be hidden by putty and paint, thus requiring another return trip.

Fortunately the finished product turned out fairly well considering the errors made during construction. Masking those errors is an art in itself. Trust me. There is now a 12’x7’4” storage shed next to the garage. And I built it.

While this project had safety skills included (the construction skills need improvement), it had me thinking about construction workers that apply their learned experiences to their work every day. They have a thorough understanding of the techniques and skills to do their job, just as safety personnel have an understanding of how to use safety on the job. When they are combined, errors are reduced, injuries minimized, and every job has the potential for success.

And not just on paper.


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