“DID YOU KNOW YOUR Uncle Bob has started building your shed?” my mother asked when she called me early one morning. “No, I didn’t know that,” I replied, a little confused. My Uncle Bob, known for being a meticulous builder in the family, had agreed to help me replace the old building I’d demolished with a new gardening shed. We’d drawn a basic plan and talked with a friend of his, Durrell Stoltzfus, owner of Paradise Concrete Designs, about pouring the floor when I was last in Virginia. But we had not agreed on a start date, so it was surprising to learn that the shed was under construction.
“Could you go take a look and send me some photos?” I asked my mother. She did and she was right. The concrete pad was poured and Uncle Bob had already begun framing the sides. By the time I got back to Virginia a week later, he’d finished the framing and was ready for me to help him with the metal roof and the board and batten siding. This was both a surprise and a gift.
My original idea had been to reuse the old boards from the shed I tore down, but Uncle Bob had milled poplar boards from some trees on his property and had them drying in the shed he’d built at his own house. One day before I’d left for Atlanta, he’d showed me the pile and said, “Those are the boards for your shed.” I had hoped to recycle the old wood, but once I started helping him screw on the boards and battens, I realized how difficult that would have been. Every imperfection has a consequence that has to be addressed.
Using a variety of screw sizes, we adjusted the 8-inch-wide boards to be both plumb and level, terms I learned to distinguish between as we worked. I’d heard both words from my father who was also a good builder, but I’d never thought much about the difference. After we added the boards to the back and the cantilevered roof over the “porch” of the shed, we began measuring each 4-inch batten. This was precise work. We measured, plumbed, and screwed in each batten, which had a 15-degree angled edge to match the pitch of the roof line.
I didn’t realize that I liked this kind of exacting work, but I found that I was quite invested in getting the measurements right and I asked a lot of questions as we worked to try to understand why things work they way they do. As of today (October 20, 2016), we’ve essentially finished both the front and the back. Hunting season starts in a couple of weeks, and my Uncle Bob wants to have the building rainproof before he heads to the woods. I think we’ll make it!