A few months ago, Heather was at a conference for the American Society of Interior Designers in Washington, DC. At the same time, my mom was taking a trip with my Aunt and Grandpa to Cleveland, OH. That left me at home for the weekend to watch the dogs, and my dad at home to do the same with his two dogs. I had a table to build for a client, so I figured I would have my dad come over and help me build the table. Free labor never hurts and he didn't complain about the free lunch either!
My dad is not the most handy guy on the planet. His general idea of 'repair' is to jimmy-rig something and to do it quick and dirty. Although there are a few things he is surprisingly good at.....anything lawn care related (he knows everything about grass) and somehow he knows how to do electrical work. Anyway, I figured he was bored at home and it would give us a chance to spend some time together. The time I mostly get to spend with my dad is on our annual ski trips to Colorado where its just me and him for a few days in the mountains. My mom did not care much for skiing or the cold weather growing up.
When I was younger, my dad and I never really got to do projects together. He traveled a lot for his job, and between playing on multiple baseball and hockey teams, (of which he never missed a game) there was never time for the typical father / son bonding. Our relationship was mostly us talking about sports related topics or me calling him to ask where things were in a grocery store. So I figured this table build was a good chance for us to spend a day together and for me to teach him a little something about woodworking.
He came over pretty early on Saturday morning and we headed over to the local lumber yard to get the needed materials. It was nice not to have to move large and heavy wood boards by myself and I got to teach him how to select quality lumber. After we got the lumber back to my house, I showed him a rough sketch of what we were building, and I put him to work helping me use the jointer and the planer; tools he didn't even know existed! We quickly worked the lumber, making sure it was mostly square and that each board that would become the table top had a nice square edge to make for an easy glue up.
After we got done milling the boards down to size, I gave him the cut list so that he could help me check them off as I went. Next it was assembly time. Since it was a nice summer day, we decided to do the building outside and work on our farmers tans. We built the base in no time! It was just a matter of taking the previously cut boards, following the plans, and in a couple hours we had a very sturdy base. It was nice to have an extra set of hands which helped with a lot of the monotonous work like countersinking screws and adding clamps after glue was applied.
In the nineties and early two thousands, my dad had run a small lawn care company. I don't think it was ever his full-time job, but I know in the Spring/ Summer/ Fall of each year, he worked liked a mad man! He would come home from a full-time job and go straight out to do lawn care. And in the time in between, he was working at a local grocery store chain in St. Louis called Schnuck's. He has worked at least part time there since he was in High School. One thing my dad never lacked was work ethic. He has a heart of gold and will work like a mule with no complaints.
My mom and grandparents all had incredible work ethics too, so I grew up with great role models in that sense. I worked part-time through college and after graduation always had a full-time and a part-time job. I believe that my dad and I share a common trait in that we do not like to sit still, and having multiple jobs is a way to ensure we constantly have something to do.
After a few more hours of talking about life, business, family, the Cardinals, the Blues, and of course planning our next ski trip, (something we both always looked forward to) the table was complete! Well, it was mostly assembled. The base was built and the top was in the clamps for the glue to cure overnight. All I had left to do was cut and attach the breadboard ends, stain, and seal the table. It was a great day to spend with my dad and I got to teach him something new for a change. We both had a great time and I think whenever he finally retires, I may have found a new shop partner.