Monday, Feb. 14, 2011
Dear Diary:

"Don't think of it as a problem," the spousal unit deadpanned. "Think of it as a challenge".

Fine.

Life has been handing us more than our share of lemons. The spousal unit has been out of work since just before Christmas which means we're back drawing down our rainy day savings. Not a happy feeling.

The spousal unit isn't one to sit about moping, so he went back at the pantry project we launched last winter. It would have been finished right about now if it wasn't for the %&^*!@ flyer we got from a local building supply store.

We renovated almost all our upstairs a few years ago. The one part I really love about the renovation is the beadboard ceiling in my office. It's a direct homage to a similar ceiling I saw at a neighbour's house. This neighbour was a master woodworker, a furniture maker.

That right there should have clued me in to the fact that it takes mad carpentry skills to put up a beadboard ceiling—they're tiny boards, only about 3" across and it doesn't take much for the whole thing to start going askew. The spousal unit was down to his last nerve when he finished my office ceiling, and swore he would never put up another.

Fortunately, carpentry is like childbirth. After a while you forget the pain and bask in the wonder of what the pain produced.

Which brings us to the %&^*!@ flyer from the building supply store. It announced that they had cottage grade beadboard on sale for $3.33 a package. A package is four boards, each eight feet long. Normally a package is in the $10 range.

Livingroom upstairs.  Nothing in this house makes sense.Like I said, we renovated most of our upstairs. The one thing we did not renovate was the ugh-lay ceiling in our living room. We had no money when we built this place and back in the day when someone offered us enough tongue and groove hemlock to cover the ceiling we jumped at it.

Unfortunately, the wood wasn't kiln dried and we were too green behind the ears to realize we should let it dry for a few years before putting it on the ceiling. So, the wood shrank and warped and left us with a dog's breakfast of a ceiling with shiny vapour barrier peaking out from between some of the boards.

I have been living with this for over 30 years now. Sigh.

The ceiling has bugged both of us, but not enough for us to actually do anything about it. And after we put down a new floor and repainted the walls, the last thing we wanted to do was deal with the horror of gyprocking the ceiling The mess and dust was more than either of us could face.

Which brings us to the amazingly cheap beadboard. We could get a whole ceiling up in under $300 which is what gyproc would cost. We weren't sure what cottage grade meant, but surely it couldn't be too bad, right? We decided to look into it.

It should have tipped us off that the plastic wrapping around the boards was hard to see through. The label said "B" grade. When we asked at the desk of the building supply store, she said it was wood with some faults. The spousal unit decided he could work around some faults so we bought 80 packages.

We schlepped them to his workshop and started unwrapping them. That's when the full horror of what we'd done hit us. These boards weren't slightly flawed. They were big time flawed. The grooves designed to take the tongues were so bad that the spousal unit decided to simply run them all through his router, chew off the bottom back side of each groove, and essentially turn it into shiplap boarding.

It would look the same, after all.

And every freaking board was so unbelievably rough that they had to be hand sanded with a palm sander. Figure about two days of routing by him, four days of sanding by me, two more days by him and we haven't even started to put the ceiling up yet. We're joking that this is going to end up being a $300 ceiling that cost $3000 in labour.

If we had bought five packages of this stuff, we would have chalked it up to experience and used it as kindling. We just couldn't afford to throw out 80 packages.

Everything for the cats, eh.At the moment I have an enormous pile of stickered pine beadboard sitting in my kitchen. The packages claim that it was kiln dried, and the wood certainly feels light, but we've decided to err on the side of caution and give it a month or so to become acclimatized to the conditions in our house. We noticed as we were sanding it that it that the wood has a horrifying interesting tendency to warp.

I see many, many happy hours ahead for the spousal unit trying to manoeuvre these boards into some semblance of straight .

Our cat Eeny simply adores the new woodpile. She spends most of her day sleeping on it and there will be much fuzzy grumbling when the wood becomes a ceiling.

Maybe she'll drown out the spousal unit's grumbling as he puts it up, eh?

--Marn

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