Oh No! They Found Out You Have Tools…and Skills!!

You've been working diligently to hone your DIY skills. You have tackled seemingly impossible projects and emerged victorious. You have made too many trips to the hardware store as you learned the hard way what materials you actually need. You have had to tear out your work and start over because it just did not turn out the way you envisioned it in your head. And during the course of all of your hard work and hard earned skills, you have acquired tools. If you are like me, many of your tools can be attributed to a certain project. For example, I built a set of mudroom lockers and to join boards together finally invested in a biscuit joiner. I had always wanted one and will use it forever. I just needed a justification to pull the trigger. As you build more and more projects, you will eventually have a workshop full of tools.

What is one of the greatest joys of DIY? Why boasting about your new skills and showing off your work of course!! You love it when people ooohhh and aahhh over that repurposed coffee table you just built or that barn wood wall sconce you just put together. It feels good. There is a sense of accomplishment and pride. Maybe you recycled or repurposed something and you feel great about that. Or you accomplished something you never thought you would be able to do. You learned by doing and are proud of it!

So your friends come over and are inspired by your creations and they get motivated to DIY. Of course, they don't realize that you had a lot of little projects and failures leading up to this latest accomplishment. You've invested hours and hours of hard work, sweat, and saw dust to get to where you are now. But they see you as an average joe (or jane) and they say to themselves “If he can do it, so can I!” You are happy for their new found excitement to DIY, but you dread what is inevitably coming…the phone call. “Help!!”

Your friend decided to read “War and Peace” before working his way through “Dick and Jane.” And you get to pick up the pieces. You have two choices: you can assume the role as mentor, or you can let him learn the hard way, throw him into the deep end to sink or swim. Why should you help when he hasn't paid his dues? He needs to learn to start small! Are you willing to snuff out the DIY flame you so recently kindled? At some point in your DIY career, someone helped you. There is a mentor in your past who took the time to give you pointers and help you out. Now it's time to pay it forward.

This is my take. I want to help, but I also want to make it worth my time personally. I'll get satisfaction and blessings from helping of course, but I can also take the opportunity to learn or try something new myself. Try a new joining technique. Use a new tool. Try different fasteners. Hone your skills. I recently had a friend ask me to help build cabinet doors and shelves. Have I built doors and shelves before? Yes. Did I agree to help anyway? Yes! In fact I used the job as an excuse to finally build the portable router table I have always wanted to build. It made the job so much easier! I also tried a few different techniques. I learned something, my friend learned something, and we were both satisifed with a job well done. As an added bonus, he gave me all of the scrap wood when the job was finished. Score!!

I used to be the personal computer repair person for a group of friends. I just happened to know a little bit more than anyone else, so I was the go-to guy. I got a t-shirt that said, “No, I will not help you fix your computer” and wore it whenever they asked me to come over and troubleshoot. It was aways good for a laugh. My secret was I learned something new everytime I fixed their issue, keeping me always one step ahead of the curve. The same can be applied to DIY projects.

Take the time to be a mentor and help someone obtain your hard earned DIY status. Woodshops, autoshops, and metalshops are disappearing from our schools. The burden has fallen upon us, the American handy men and women, to pass along our knowledge to future generations!!! OK, so that was a bit dramatic, but you get the point!