What if you had to pivot today?

I have been in some kind of a professional position for the last ten years. Part of that is wrapped in college, but for the most part I was working full-time while attending. Over the years, I often thought, what could I do right now if I had to change careers?

Even simpler, if I needed to make a few bucks, how could I hustle in some cash? (A church leader once counseled, when the job isn’t bringing in enough money, you go out there and dig some ditches [He was an excavation contractor.] This is something that Melissa and I bring up often to each other.)

This thought has been on my mind for the last couple of months. My current job hit a two-year anniversary a few months ago. When you have been somewhere for a few months’ schedules can fall into a routine. For instance, I know the week schedule, and have seen that stretch into months, and now years. Big projects, little ones, and all kinds in-between.

When I was a kid, my dad went back to school when I was five-years-old at BYU. After a few years, he was student teaching, and then landed a job at East High School in Salt Lake teaching wood shop and drafting. We would go to school often, usually around football games or on the weekends to work on personal projects. It was a long time ago, but there are memories that stick out. One highlight was going with the cub scouts, and building a stool that is still in use at my parent’s house to this day. Another was fine tuning Pinewood Derby cars. (My dad learned with me, and each subsequent sibling’s cars got a lot faster…) Another was a getting a woodcarving kit, and emulating my granddad Pop’s unique style on a piece of wood.

It was a special occasion when my dad gave my mother a custom cabinet to hold her large collection of rubber stamps. It featured a several drawers, hidden latching mechanism, and a piece of custom stained glass in to the door that a friend had made. As I look back on it now, the price of the wood alone was likely astronomical, but the time and craftsmanship was what really shined through on that project. It became an instant heirloom. Something that will undoubtedly to be passed from generation to generation.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been cleaning the garage. When we moved in, a lot of our things went into some shelves in the garage from a prior owner that were probably at least 40–50 years old. The were decrepit, and just downright structurally insecure. As things in the garage go, this was relegated to the “do nothing” decision making.

Eventually, the itch got to me, and I had to do something about it. Step one was to remove a lot of the garbage, and either donate to trash items. Things that we wanted to keep, like photos (Melissa has a ton of photo books…) and other mementos went to the attic, while garage type items were moved into storage crates, and then put into shelves that I have had un assembled in our garage.

The garage, cleaned up.

What a miracle, a clean garage. This is just one wall, and due to some acrobatics, we have five other walls here in this garage that need some attention, but this is a start. And if you are asking, goal isn’t to park two cars in here, just to clean up.

When I was in junior high, we had a project where we had to map our school. The goal was to learn how to count your steps to measure distances, and then from that, infer the shape and layout of the school. After getting the measurements, it came time to put pencil to paper. My dad, the drafting teacher found a new pupil, and I got a lesson about the architect scale ruler. With my new found knowledge, it was a breeze getting the drawing down, in perfect scale.

Today, I started the plans for a large cabinet that I want to build in the garage. Ideally, I want some room for storage bins or drawers, and then a tall space where I can hang things like extension cords, and garden equipment. (Oh, and I am the kind of guy that has bolt cutters because-I-left-the-keys-at-home-and-I-needed-a-lock-gone-thank-you-very-much.)

When it came time for plans, I turned to my trusty architect scale, and laid down a scaled (⅛) version of the cabinet face.

Proposed cabinet face. To scale, of course.

I have joked a few time in the last few months that I am going to quit my job and be a cabinet maker. There is something about it that seems dreamy. It might be the smell of the wood after being cut, the sounds of the tools, or the feeling of crafting. It might be because it is the opposite of my daily job.

Right now my woodworking skills are a work in progress. My joinery is loose. The seams show glue marks, and a bent nail is common. More often then naught, good enough takes the place of good. But, with time, I am getting better.

Being a cabinet maker, or a finish carpenter is a detail job. Something where the crucial details are found in the last 10% of a job. And to be honest, that is where I struggle a lot of the time.

I sent the photo above to a family chat earlier today, joking that I have become my father. This is only one small thing in a myriad of examples that I see in my life. And I am grateful for that today.