A story oft told in my family – and it’s not apocryphal – is that when my father was conscripted into the army in 1941 and tested to assess where his skills lay and therefore where best to deploy him, he scored zero for ‘mechanical comprehension’. Zero.
Never before in the history of the AIF – and possibly the navy and the RAAF – had a seemingly intelligent chap failed to answer even one question correctly in this particular category. As a result, he became something of a cause célèbre for a while, then found his niche writing and producing sketch comedy and variety shows – in between fighting the Japanese – which helped boost the men’s morale in their down time.
What this meant, of course, is that I grew up never seeing a hammer, nail, screwdriver, drill, lever, cogwheel or any type of power tool in use at home. Ever. And although I’d longed for a meccano set as a child to no avail – though to be fair, I never told my parents this as it would have shocked them – becoming a talented handyman has long been a secret, unfulfilled desire. I am in awe of people who can build things.
So on the basis that my old letter box needed a makeover recently, the time to put to use my horribly stunted home handyman skills had arrived:
#51 Construct…something (that requires limited tool skills)
The letter box in question is nothing more than a space between bricks that had a plastic tub at the base, wedged in with two black rubber hose lengths, to catch the letters and a makeshift ‘lid’ to prevent rain dripping down. Embarrassing really…
…hence the blurry photo
So its replacement would need to be made of a waterproof material that could be measured to fit snugly, cut to size without using anything with the prefix ‘power’, formed into an oblong shape with a couple of ‘steps’ bent in opposite directions and then painted.
Material that could do all this was totally beyond my mechanical comprehension (I’m with you, Dad) so I turned to a friend and expert we’ll call my Bunning’s Buddy (or BB). We meet there most weekends; he to buy mysterious tools and materials for his latest innovative mini-Taj Mahal projects and I to watch in awe before heading to the garden section.
(I’d post photos of the AMAZING floor to ceiling bookshelves he made that can be opened with a hidden handle to reveal an entire bedroom behind, but it might make my revamped letter box look even more pathetic.)
Anyway, BB recommended using Corflute:
…a hitherto unknown product that looks like cardboard but acts like plastic!
Turns out, this waterproof material can be measured to fit snugly, cut to size without using anything with the prefix ‘power’, will bend along straight lines and can be painted. Bingo!
Using the well known rule among tradies to ‘measure twice, cut once,’ I soon realised this guide was meant for professionals. The rule for newbie home handymen, is ‘measure twice, cut once, return to Bunnings for more Corflute, measure twice, cut once, return to Bunnings again for supplies, repeat ….’
But eventually, stage one was successfully completed:
And finally stage three: painted and secured:
And all done without hammering a nail, driving in a screw, using a power tool or cutting myself with the Stanley knife.
Dad would be proud!