Eat My Sawdust

Ron Nagasawa
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Wednesday - September 17, 2008
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If there was any kind of indicator that I turned 50 years old, it was by the kind of birthday presents I received. Rather, the kind of birthday present I bought for myself. I had originally decided to usher in the big 5-0 quietly, but my wife’s and my families had other plans.

Since my wife celebrates her birthday a couple weeks before me, our families threw a surprise party for the two of us. We were totally caught off-guard, and it was one of the most meaningful parties we ever had. One of the nice things was that everyone chipped in and I received a substantial gift card.


Now, had I been younger, I probably would have used that gift card to purchase something cool. Instead, I caught myself buying something my dad would have have bought - a power miter saw. I think the equivalent of that for my wife would be if she bought herself a mixer.

Of course, she’s a long way from that happening, if ever, as her shopping consists of nothing practical from the male perspective. But this is about me. My purchase of the miter saw struck fear into my family as now it meant I could attempt to fix things around the house.

Comparisons to Tim Allen on the TV show Home Improvement were inevitable, and I set out to prove my family wrong. My first project was to frame up an air conditioner that my brother installed in our bedroom. For this task, I was going to do it on my own, now armed with my miter saw.

The basic rule of carpentry is to measure twice and cut once. The Nagasawa rule of carpentry is to eyeball it and spend a ton of money on wood. City Mill can thank me for 50 percent of its wood sales in September as I must have gone back there a dozen times to resupply myself with one-by-twos.

For some reason, I couldn’t get the 45 degree corners to line up just right. I kept recutting until the piece was too short, and then I’d start over again on a new piece of wood. After spending several hours on a project that should have taken a half hour, I think someone called my brother to come over and bail me out.

His first comment set me off, for as he walked into the garage and saw all the spent pieces of wood lying around, he said, “What the heck are you making? An ark?”

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