I probably built these shelves 50 times in my mind. In working on this project I observed something about how I learn and process information. I spent the last week doing research, watching YouTube videos and reading woodworking forums. Each piece of new information was taken in by my brain and I continually worked through the steps of building the shelves in my brain. I realized this is a tactic I employ often. I will process through the steps of a problem or project mentally, getting each thing straight in my mind. By the time I sit down to actually work on the project, it is as if I have done it many times already.
As I built the shelves over and over in my mind, the most daunting part was always cutting the plywood. I have access to a hand held circular saw which can be used to cut many types of wood, including plywood. I watched MANY videos on how to cut plywood with a circular saw and read through some forum posts. No matter how many different tutorials I watched I never gained confidence in my ability to use the circular saw well. I was uncertain that I could cut straight enough lines and do so without getting hurt. It was that last part that led me to change my plan. It became clear to me that a skill that could result in injury, (I really am quite fond of my fingers) was not something I was willing to learn from people who could not be present to guide me in my practice. It seems I had found a limitation in learning via YouTube. I decided I would employ an accommodation. I am a Special Education teacher after all. I had the employee at the hardware store cut the plywood to my specifications for me. As I watched him use his machine and make nice straight cuts in a fraction of the time it would have taken me, I realized I had made the right decision. I saved myself from wasted time, frustration and possible injury.
The rest of the project has come along very well. I used a chop saw, which was much more manageable, to cut the 2×2’s I needed for the shelves.
The construction of the shelves went very much as I had imagined it in my mind all those times. I successfully used a drill to help with the construction and even managed to get some of it filmed using a tripod. The indoor install also went very well. After some initial frustration in trying to find the studs in the wall, I employed a method I saw on YouTube, which utilized a strong magnet. The theory was that the nails used to attach the drywall to the studs would attract the magnet. Once I got a strong enough magnet it worked beautifully! At the end of the day I was able to put up a rough draft of the shelves and have my product testers get to work. They seemed tentative, but happy.
The shelves still need finishing boards to go around the edges and a layer of carpet to make them more inviting. The work will continue!
I made several observations while I was researching for this project. One observation I made was that there is an entire vocabulary that goes with woodworking and I am definitely not fluent in that language. I did my best to use context clues, but I definitely felt like I was on the outside looking in. It made me think of my students, who often come to the classroom lacking in the prior knowledge necessary to be up to speed with students who do not have learning disabilities.
Also, most of the videos I watched were made by men. I did find one video posted by a woman and I was interested to note that my level of comfort was much greater after watching her demonstration.
I found it interesting that as a woman my learning was enhanced when watching a lesson by another woman. Again, I wondered at the implications for the classroom. Is students’ learning impacted by the gender, perceived skill level, or any other variable that may be applied to the teacher?