Canadian Woodworking

Are you serious, Rob?

Author: Rob Brown
Coat the Baseboards

In last week’s column I admitted I had a problem finishing projects. I heard from a few of you, and it turns out I’m not the only one with this affliction.

Starting projects brings hope and excitement. You’d think the prospect of finishing a project would bring a sense of completion and satisfaction, but I guess that’s not always strong enough to make all of us actually see a project through to completion.

One reader asked me if my column was actually true. They thought I was exaggerating the truth. Did I really not finish all sorts of projects? They seemed to be in shock that I’d go through all the steps in a project only to stall at the very final step. Don’t get me wrong, I do complete some projects, and not just the ones for paying customers. But yes, I do have a tendency not finish projects in a timely manner. Or sometimes even in the same decade.

The list

At quick count, I currently have seven projects that are nearly done:

1) The baseboard and quarter round I wrote about in mid-December 2021, as well as mid-January 2022, have one coat of paint, but need at least one more. By now they have to be properly cleaned, as the dog has made certain sections quite dirty.

2) The crown isn’t complete either. I mentioned it mid-January in one of my columns: “By the way, I’ve stored the 16′ lengths of crown moulding in the basement for now. I’m too tired of this type of work to continue with it right now. And the thought of doing this all again, except 8′ in the air, really doesn’t sound like fun,” I wrote then.

It’s still stacked neatly in the basement. At least I had the foresight to store it properly. I’m planning on getting to that shortly. Sadly, it will need a couple of coats of paint, too.

3) A small piece of trim is needed in the kitchen. I mentioned this last week. This is an easy one, and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes in the shop. Also, paint is needed for this piece.

4) There’s an opening in the wall, between the kitchen and the living room. I fit a nice piece of black walnut, applied a few coats of polyurethane, put it in place and never looked at it again. It just needs to be fixed in place.

5) A 10-pane closet door needs to be painted. It’s currently stained fairly dark, but we want it white to go with the new white trim.

6) Repair the arm of an antique rocking chair that’s been in my family for decades. My grandmother rocked my mom to sleep in that chair years ago. You’d think I could at least show it some respect and fix its left arm.

7) Hang some hooks in the front hall closet. I made doors for that closet and wrote about them in March 2021. (Has that been over a year already?!) The only thing needed to finish off the project is to hang the hooks to allow us to organize items like brooms, dustpans, coats, etc. One of these days I’ll get to it, though I’m in no rush.

Why?

That’s the question. Why do I not complete so many jobs? Or at least not in anything remotely considered a timely fashion. Maybe there are just too many jobs to get them all done properly, so I do as many as I can to the point of being functional, then move on. Having said that, it’s very easy to screw a few hooks to the wall to make the closet project fully functional. The other five projects are much less about function, and more about aesthetics. Maybe there’s some truth to this theory.

I think there’s also something to my comment on regarding the simplest portion of the job. I get excited about building doors, making a bookcase and all the other big projects, but once it gets down to the simplest part of a job, I don’t put as much importance in it because the hard work has already been taken care of. I also think I *could* do that small task now, but my time might be better spent starting a more important job now and finishing off that other one later. I just rarely return to that other project.

I’ll get there, I’m sure. It just sometimes takes a while. And now that I’ve admitted I have a problem maybe I’ll consciously complete more of these jobs before moving on. It’s really hard to say, though!

Should I even mention?

Although I’d like to get to these jobs that are almost complete, I’m really looking forward to the next few projects on my list.

  • Picture frames
  • Flower boxes for the front porch
  • A partition to hide a few blue bins and the garbage can
  • Basement shelving from 2x4s and plywood
  • A pair of outdoor tables

I’m hoping I can sort out my approach to the last 10% of each project before the large basement reno or I may end up living in the doghouse I’m also supposed to build.

Coat the Baseboards
One coat of paint, or in some cases just the factory primer, doesn’t offer a whole lot of long-term protection and durability.

Coat the Baseboards

Looks Good
Though it looks good and even looks finished, it’s gravity that’s keeping this slab of black walnut in place.

Looks Good

Brighten It Up
This closet door needs to be coated with white paint to bring it into the 21st century.

Brighten It Up

A Stitch, in Time
This antique rocking chair needs its arm fixed before it completely falls off and needs a more serious repair.

A Stitch, in Time

Another Simple Job
How hard is it to hang a few hooks? Surprisingly hard, as I’ve proven. The closet has needed these hooks for over a year, though I only bought these hooks about six months ago.

Another Simple Job


Published:
Last modified: May 5, 2022

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

6 Comments

  1. Great series Rob, this is a problem that affects us all. I notice most of the unfinished project you have listed fall into the category of ‘home improvement’ and they aren’t in the shop. I find if a project is out of the shop, having to gather the tools and materials to finish it up somewhere in the house a bit of a drag. As it inevitable leads to fifteen or so trips up and down the stairs to get what I need to finish the small job.

    I tend to let these jobs stack up and try to finish a bunch in one go when I want to have a productive day. Usually one of those days where the kids are out of the house and I have the day to myself. Or if I am in the middle of a very large project that seems to be moving nowhere, sometimes it’s nice to take a break and have the accomplishment of finishing some things to get me back on track.

  2. Oh boy did this one ever hit home… For me it’s nailing the baseboards in, funny thing is when we sold my parents house I found out that my Dad had not nailed any baseboards down in their house?!? Hereditary???

  3. I do appreciate your real life column. I don’t feel as alone when I read about your exact same quirky approach to getting things done. The odd Time I have devoted a day, well, part day actually to getting tiny annoying jobs done. I don’t need a list. Just start any one of them and move to the next one I see as I move around -lots to choose from and at the end of the day I feel soooo satisfied.

  4. I had to laugh at the article. Not a mention of attitudes gained as a person ages. I am 71 and retired 15 years. I built many projects as I slipped into retirement, as I planned to do! Then as I age, I now get up in the morning, think about finishing the last group of projects hanging around my shop, I say to myself “Grab another cup of coffee and think about it, as I watch another batch of YouTube videos until nap time”. It’s the old “Don’t give a dang attitude some of us get as we saunter off into old age”. Two unfinished jewellery boxes and another chess table with raised playing surface come to mind, not to mention the house repairs…

  5. So I’ve been thinking about providing my two bits worth and finally here I am (was that part of an unfinished project – delaying a response??). I too have unfinished projects (else I wouldn’t be commenting). I find I delay when it seems a project has become functional and ‘close enough’ to completion so I start another – and the cycle repeats. And/or I need one or two more items not kicking around in my shop that i need to procure so I move on – and the cycle repeats. Then my shop piles up with stuff and gets cluttered and then I have no room to even finish one off – and the cycle repeats. Until one day ….

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