Canadian Woodworking

The Project That Never Ends

Author: James Jackson
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: August September 2021
The project that never ends
The project that never ends

In February my wife suggested we put up shiplap in our hallway. It still isn’t finished.


Does anyone recall the tune “The Song That Never Ends?” It was an annoying, single-verse song that was part of the children’s show “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along” in the early 1990s and could be sung on an infinite loop.

Well, I feel as if my latest home improvement project is a varia­tion of that tune, because it never seems to end and it goes on and on, my friends.

The story begins in February, when my wife, Becky, suggested we put up some shiplap in the hallway. It would add an interest­ing design element to the otherwise bland space, and the white boards would really help brighten up the area. She’s actually been suggesting we do this little project since before the pan­demic began.

The MDF shiplap boards are eight feet long and about 5-1/2″ wide, so our completely rational thinking was we could bang the project out in a weekend. The hallway is only about 12′ long, after all, and the handy tongue-and-groove design meant the boards fit together very easily and all I needed to do was check my progress every now and then with a level.

The first thing I did was watch a couple of handy YouTube videos to learn how to securely fasten the shiplap to the drywall. Pretty soon into the project, however (okay, the first board), I realized there would be some tough angles on the wall. It took six cuts on my mitre saw to get the first one right (it was about 46.7°, by the way) and by the time our first workday ended we had exactly…four boards in place.

Surely the next day would go more quickly, right? Now that we’ve worked out the kinks. Well, on Day 2 I came across an even bigger nemesis – electrical outlets and light switches.

Did I mention this is the first time I’ve tried something like this? After wasting one board by improperly measuring the width of the light switch opening, I finally got it right on the second try. My handheld jigsaw really came in handy for this part of the job, even though the blade is slightly bent.

I did have a small victory, though. I actually managed to dis­connect the old thermostat (after safely switching it off at the fuse panel), drill a new hole in the wall and reposition the wires, con­nect them to the new thermostat, and it fired right back up – all on the very first try and without consulting my YouTube feed. Becky was thoroughly impressed.

Despite the victory, the project persisted. I could only work on weekends, thanks to my day job as a newspaper reporter, but after four long weeks I finally hung the final piece of shiplap.

Any joy I might have felt was short-lived, however, as I soon real­ized I still had to put up the trim. And the new door frames. And putty all the nail holes. And caulk the seams. And then paint.

I’ve now finished about three-quarters of the trim and half the caulking. The COVID-19 lockdown in Ontario this spring made it really tough to get the trim pieces I needed, because the hardware store didn’t sell them online. I had to wait about six weeks for the stores to reopen.

The job is almost finished, and I have to say that it looks pretty good, but I am definitely anxious to wrap it all up.

It’s taken a lot of time, a lot of cuts on the mitre saw, and a few gouges of flesh to get to this point. It hasn’t all been bad, though. I did get to buy a brand-new, battery-powered brad nailer. New tools are always a win in my book.

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