Some days you’re the bug

You know the saying, “Some days you’re the windshield; some days you’re the bug?” Today I was the bug.


Curve at end of deck
One of Steve's jobs


Steve perches on edge of deck high above the hard, drilling
Definitely not for me


Today we worked on deck #3. The tasks that were left fell into two distinct categories: interesting and complicated (rip a long, thin triangle piece we need because part of the deck runs between two buildings that are not straight on, set the last posts, cut the curves on the corners) and simple (drill and screw the planks).

All the interesting things are things that Steve needs to do, because my skill level as a carpenter is not high enough. That left decking.

Working in sections, I use the big drill to drill two holes per plank per joist, followed by the small drill to countersink.


Large green Makita drill
Big drill


Then I change out the bit and use the small drill to sink the screws. It’s boring and taxing, straining my back, hands, knees, and neck. At the same time it’s oddly meditative: you don’t have to be think much, but you really have to concentrate, because the minute your attention wanders is the minute a screw goes wanky and shoots out from under you or you hit a knot and strip the head.

Makita drill with countersink bit
Countersink bit

It’s also humbling, in a good way. At work, I don’t do a whole lot of work anymore – I strategize, plan, direct, and manage, and I edit more than I write. Today is all about work, and it’s not a bad thing to be reminded that we all have our strengths – I may be a senior vice president at a public relations firm, but here, I’m grunt labor.

Makita rechargeable drill with square head bit and screw
Over and over and over...

At the end of the day I can’t help counting:

  • 15 planks that cross 28 joists, times two screws per joist = 840 screws
  • 2 planks that cross 22 joists, times two = 88 screws
  • 1 plank that crosses 35 joists, times two = 70 screws
  • 8 planks that cross 16 joints, times two = 256 screws

That’s a grand total of 1,254 screws, not counting the planks that we had to piece – quite a few – which results in the use of two additional screws.


Planks meeting on a joist require four screws
Two more!


Definitely a good day’s work.

Finished deck with chop saw on it

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