|We are honored to have represented Rice against our cross-town rival UH, not in football, baseball or basketball, as one would normally expect us to compete in sports, but in carpentry! In fact, we, totally inexperienced, self-nominated ourselves against our adversaries, who, we understand, were equally neophytic in this historic encounter.|
We arrived at the nail-off site, residence of retired aviation engineer, affectionately called Frank, well before the kick-off time. We believe in “well begun is half done.” There was no sign of UH. Frank gave us the problem statement: to install a drawer underneath the garden work bench using all his tools and purchase whatever materials necessary for this process. He deliberately shied away from mentioning the specific components we need for the installation. We had, however, an already installed drawer with which we could use as a guide. We made a rough sketch and off we went to Home Depot. We later found out that we had to buy a set of self-closing bottom-mount drawer slider and track and a set of angle braces for a total cost of $9.18. After half-an-hour of bumping and fumbling but learning, we went back to the jobsite.
Still UH team was nowhere in sight. They could be doing what we just went through at Home Depot. Who cares! We had our jobs cut out—to downsize the drawer to fit the bench width. No sweat, Frank said. With the menacing powered circular saw in hand, he literally chopped it down to size for our safety (unless we dare to minus a few fingers). But we salvaged the back enclosure by attempting to nail it to the bottom plywood. Had we done that both the enclosure and the thin plywood would have split along the seam. Frank made us pre-drill 1/16 holes for tapping in finishing nails for stability.
Good news and bad news—UH defaulted and now we are not being challenged—mixed emotions, anyway. With pressure off, we now moved on with the next phase—hang the salvaged 1 by 4 from the bottom of the bench so as to mount the side track for the bottom-mounted rollers of the drawer. That’s how the 1” angle braces came in handy. We did it by trial and error to locate the positions where the drawer would slide smoothly along the side track, to which we center-punched and drilled them with 3/16 bit using the cordless drill. We then secured the braces with Philips screws. When the last screw was set, we high-fived and shouted our Rice fighting hymn, as if we beat the Coogs, a rare occurrence in our Bayou Bucket football series nowadays. Incidentally, it took us three hours to finish this Carpentry 101 project.
We were rewarded with a simple but unique lunch of steaming crab and shrimp. Frank showed us the whole cooking ensemble—butane burner, steaming pot with strainer and his foldable table. Our hostess Sue Ann actually hand-picked the life Gulf blue crab from Viet Hua Supermarket. We helped rinse off the crab and frozen shrimp with the garden hose. Frank simply picked a few lemons from his tree, chopped them up and tossed them into the steamer. The trick of this cooking was not to boil but to steam the crab in the strainer for 15 minutes and shrimp for 5 minutes. We then had a most relaxing and enjoyable lunch which we would only dream of at the dormitory. Beer in hand, garlic-basil-olive baguettes, Chinese/American/French dips for the crab and shrimp meat, cool weather, blue sky, no insects inside the screened gazebo, what else do we want!
UH Team was very graceful in congratulating us. They asked for another chance where both teams would hone their skills. We would be glad to accept this challenge. Let’s do it next Easter.
On this 18th October, 2009, we got away from our routine research drudgery and ventured into something new altogether. The hands-on experience, the shopping at Home Depot, the DIY handyman jargon, the techniques of using various tools, etc. will help boost our confidence when we embark on our career in the real world. It definitely leaves an indelible mark on our memory during our short sojourn in this great State of Texas. The friendship of our host and comradeship of our team are much to be treasured. We sure would like to preserve this report to show our children how we took the first crack at carpentry.