It’s a long story, but I’ve been working on a bi-fold door for Marshall’s bathroom.
It’s a pretty cool door, made from leftover hickory flooring, and with vertical pivoting louvers that don’t let prying eyes see you sitting on the pot. For debugging, I had it mounted on a wall in the cellar, and it opened and closed smoothly, but I was kind of stuck: To open it from the outside or to close it from within, you pretty much had to use your fingernails.
It needed a handle.
I used a piece of scrap wood to rough out a shape I liked and then decided that the prototype was perfect, so why make a whole ‘nother handle? Except that the piece of wood for the prototype had a big ugly hole drilled smack dab in the middle.
My first thought was to just finish it the way it was and then tell Charon: “Give me the gum,” and plug the hole with it. That wasn’t going to fly, though, so I said to myself, ‘plug the hole with something decorative.’ Famous last words.
This is a bathroom door, and anyone else would do a crescent moon. But in my bathroom, I start each morning and end each night brushing my teeth, and I keep my toothbrush in my happy cup. Maybe a happy face in the handle would make Marshall’s bathroom a happier place!
I went to college with a guy with a sharp eye for rocks. This guy could pick a pottery shard out of a pile of gravel from 30 feet away. In the dark. Gary collects minerals and every Christmas for the last 35 years, he’s sent me a box of rocks. I open it and make a mental note that “I really must learn more about minerals” and then I put them back in the box and set it aside. It’s a good system, and I have quite the rock collection.
When we moved, it was easier to just move the box of rocks than to get rid of it and, in the aftermath of moving into the new house, Mary and (mostly) I were grousing about how much crap we’ve accumulated and critiquing one anothers’ crazy junk.
“A hundred mason jars? Get rid of them!”
“Oh yeah? Well how many pumps have you got sitting in the cellar?”
“Hey, this is all good stuff,” I said, and opened up a random box to prove it.
It was my box of rocks, and she gave me that look and didn’t say a word, and I just shut the fuck up. Maybe she has a point?
Anyway, I was looking for something that looked like a happy face, and I decided to look in that box of rocks. Most of them were pretty sad looking rocks, but this rock here looked to me like a little green man with one eye and a unibrow saying “Have a happy day!”
I’ve never done lapidary, but how hard can it be?
So I dragged out the tile saw that I used for putting in the slate floors, and I pared back the rock with it and glued it on a board.
Then I took the hole saw I used to poke pipes through the tile in the shower and drilled out a round core.
Then I went back to the saw and cut the rock flat and then sliced out a thin section. At this point, a part of the rock broke off, and now it looks like the little guy has a crew cut.
I polished it on the same grinder I use for my planer blades, and then I drilled out the hole in the handle and plugged the back of it with a dime.
(So far, this whole thing has cost me 10 cents!)
Finally, I glued it in, cleaned it up, had Mary finish it, and installed it at Charon and Marshall’s house. And now, if you squint, you’ll see there’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Happy Face guarding Marshall’s bathroom, saying:
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