Don’t Work Tired

The past few weeks have done to my brain what my twenties did to my liver: it’s freaking fried.  I come home in a mental state fit for little more than a Chinese take-out binge, some Netflix, and something that look a little like this.

This is not the right frame of mind for remodeling. Two nights ago I came home from work feeling obligated to hang drywall. The body was able but the mind wasn’t willing, and despite that I forced my way through hanging a few sheets on the ceiling. I’ll be honest: calling the work I did that day amateur makes amateurs look bad by comparison. I know how to hang drywall.  I know how to measure, mark, and cut. I know how to line screws up with the studs beneath them and I know how to drive them deep enough without breaking the paper face of the Sheetrock.  I know I should mark the location of fixtures prior to hanging so I don’t have to guess later.

Yet I was too brain-dead to do any of this, and now I’m left with cracked edges, a bunch of screw holes where I missed the studs completely, and a hole where I missed the location of a light by several inches.  My ceiling doesn’t look bad because I don’t know better. It looks bad because I don’t hang drywall enough for this process to be automatic, and my mind wasn’t in the right place to think before doing.

So take it from the guy that’s probably going to either live with an ugly ceiling or spend twice as much time on finishing: don’t start a project you’re not in the mindset to do right.

Marc Spagnuolo at the Wood Whisperer has a similar take when it comes to exhausting and woodworking.

The finished trailer from the back

The Frankenwagon

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About a month ago my uncle had the nerve to ask for his trailer back that I had been using for the last six months.  This act of audacity left me with no way to transport anything more substantial than groceries.  Fortunately for me that very same day my roommate’s coworker mentioned he had one he was looking to get off his property. (Or was it my brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate?)

I went over to look at it.  The deck was OSB and completely destroyed by water, but the tongue and axle were in pretty good shape.  I towed it home and got to work on the Frankenwagon.

Cleaning up the Metal Parts

The tongue and axle were in decent shape but had a little bit of rust and some spots that needed welded.  I put a wire wheel on my angle grinder and in about an hour I was down to shiny, clean metal. Since I don’t have any experience with welding I took it to work, and a coworker fixed a few joints that needed some care. (Obligatory shout-out to SUN Tech, where kids and grown-ups alike can learn to weld like a boss).

Word of Caution: it was hot out and I was using the grinder without a shirt on.  I ended up getting a wire embedded in my skin just below my nipple, and one in my knee.  They were pretty long, and as I pulled them out of my skin I felt like some sort of magician!

Finally I drilled out holes to accept the bolts I planned to used to attach the deck, and painted the entire thing John Deere Green.

Assembling the Deck

Before I actually started, I tried looking for information online about specifications and requirements for building a trailer, but came up empty.  At this point I realized I risk building something that won’t pass inspection, but I decided I’m willing to try.

Using stainless steel carriage bolts I attached pressure treated 2×4’s to the axle and used decking screws to attach the 2 x 8’s I decided to use for decking.  I planed for the deck to be big enough to hold 4×8 sheet stock when it’s finished.  I screwed the decking down at full size and trimmed it all to length with my Dewalt TrackSaw afterwards.

Building the Sides

I had a bunch of pieces of pressure treated 4 x 4’s leftover from a fence project, so I decided to use them to build sides.  I cut them to 18″ long, routed a 1″ groove in the center of them, and attached them to the deck at the corners and at even spacing along the sides. I screwed 2 x 4 rails across the top of these posts, but offset them so that the top of the slot is open.  This way if I ever need a closed trailer to transport mulch or stone, I can toss in some scrap plywood in a matter of minutes.

For a finishing touch I made some trim that I attached around the bottom of the deck.  I routed the top of the trim as well as both top edges of the railing.

Wiring

I picked up this lite kit and as soon as I opened the package realized it would need some adjustments. The lights ground themselves by being screwed into the metal parts of the trailer. Unfortunately my design didn’t really allow that. I bought longer screws, attached the lights to the trim, ran additional ground wires, and fastened them to the frame with self-tapping screws.

Conclusion

Yesterday I took the first flight of the Frankenwagon.  It’s not street legal yet, but I’ll do an update about the process of getting it there.  The trailer rides fine and the lights work great, and I’d say the total cost of the project was about $300.