Author Topic: Two Left Hands  (Read 4232 times)

RubenDF

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Two Left Hands
« on: September 09, 2013, 01:39:33 PM »
Hey everyone,

I have a quick question for all those of us who had the (miss)fortune of growing up in an environment where manual labor was completely discouraged, as in my case, and who, upon finding mustachianism, found themselves having a strong desire (for both financial and personal fulfillment reasons) to become more handy.

What paths did you take? At the current time I can pick up a hammer and put up paintings, I can handle a drill, and at one point in college worked at the engineering machine shop... however, I know nothing of plumbing, woodwork, etc... and I would really like to learn, as I've found out recently that I really enjoy working with my hands. On the upside, I have made a very good start over the last few months on the manual labor side of things (major reorganizations of furniture and purging of "crap" around the house, complete in-sourcing of cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.) but nothing like I would like to someday achieve (re-tiling my shower, doing my own plumbing, minor electrical fixes, re-finishing my wood floors, etc.). I've thought about going to the library, picking up a book and just getting started on one of those projects, but the gulf between my current experience and tackling one of these projects seems just way to big and, frankly, intimidating...

I own very basic tools at the moment (cheap $60 Walmart set).

I can guess a bunch of you have been in this same position I am right now - So how did you cross over?

Thanks in advance!

Russ

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 01:51:04 PM »
Just do it. The magic is that you can fuck up a couple times and it's still cheaper than hiring a contractor. It's very rare that you'll actually be able to do permanent damage to your house, at least without having to pull a permit from the city first.

onemorebike

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 01:53:43 PM »
I learned two fairly useful skills late in life.

First, I learned how to work on my own bikes. I learned this by buying Zinn and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance and a small tool set. After 15 years of doing this, I'm fairly good at fixing anything that happens to my bikes.

Second, I learned how to fix most things around the house. I did this by buying my first house, a totally destroyed foreclosure property and fixing it up myself. It took a lot of work but at the time it was to become my home (and now is a rental I own). I learned lots of skills just from books and home depot.

Lesson? Just do it. :)

-Dave

iamlindoro

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2013, 01:54:25 PM »
Strongly agree with the first responder-- Even for the "naturally handy" (if there is such a thing, and I would contend that there isn't), our competency with a physical task is drastically increased with repetition.  Even the most talented pianist must practice, why shouldn't you have to practice handyman work?

I am known among my friends as a very handy person, and as a good cook-- but I became good at both through long experimentation and repetition.

Just do it.  Fuck up, then do it again.  Learn to fix your fuckups when it's possible, and you'll be even better for it.  PIck a task that seems manageable, then pick ever-increasing difficulties, but always challenge yourself within the bounds of safety.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2013, 02:00:58 PM »
Trial and error is a great teacher.

I read DIY books, and now I YouTube/google repairs. Any time I had to call in someone, I'd watch what they did, and tried to make notes and ask questions. For instance, I currently use a plumber that was happy to show me how to do basic stuff so I didn't waste money having him out to do things that were simple for me to do (he's an awesome plumber, btw).

There are also classes offered sometimes at some of the big box stores (and in my area there's a "leisure learning" network affiliated with some of the community colleges that offer all manner of workshops for DIY).

Go slow, and start small. Do your homework, and if you think you're overwhelmed, walk away for a few hours and come back to the project when you're not frustrated (don't try to work angry-it just gets worse). If you still can't handle, then you can always call in a pro, but you'll definitely have nothing really to lose trying it yourself.

iamlindoro

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2013, 02:01:11 PM »
I guess I might add to the above that Youtube is shockingly good when it comes to finding instruction on carpentry, plumbing, tile/flooring, and auto repair topics.  Watch at least a few videos to find the common threads, then do it!  So many seemingly insurmountable tasks only feel that way until you see them done, and then you gain confidence quickly.  Tiling and floor refinishing are REALLY easy if you take your time and do each step carefully.  Plumbing and electrical work are only marginally moreso, if you do your due diligence and learn some basics.

Spork

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2013, 02:13:41 PM »
Just do it. The magic is that you can fuck up a couple times and it's still cheaper than hiring a contractor. It's very rare that you'll actually be able to do permanent damage to your house, at least without having to pull a permit from the city first.

Like everyone says... exactly this.   I grew up in a very UN-DIY house.  The only tools my dad owned were a pair of pliers, a couple of screwdrivers and a incomplete set of (rusty) wrenches.  At about 16 (I'm an old fart now) I decided this was not going to work and that I needed to figure out how to fix stuff.

I started with cars.  When I got old enough to own a house, I started trying to figure out how stuff worked and "the right way" to put stuff together.  It's all do-able.  Between home shows on tv, google and  youtube -- someone can show you how.

Pay attention to how stuff is constructed when you tear it apart.  It's likely that if it was built in the days of building codes, it's probably been put together correctly.  Pretty soon, you'll start picking out the stuff that "homeboy bubba engineering types" before you hacked on.  They'll be done differently. 

Mega

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2013, 07:05:46 PM »
I have the just do it attitude, but if I can't get it I move on. I have found that the more I have done the more I am able to go back and fix things I did wrong / couldn't do before.

Also, I tend to book time to do something, and I start small.

I am slowly learning to plan stuff out more when bored at work.

kkbmustang

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2013, 08:26:01 PM »
You might also consider volunteering to get some practice. My husband volunteered at our church for several years building houses (sort of like Habitat for Humanity), but the house was constructed in our church parking lot, moved to its final resting place, then finished up there. (The families who were the 'recipients' of the houses paid their down payment with sweat equity. It's pretty cool working alongside the homeowner.) He learned how to build a house from the base up with pros teaching him along the way. That practical knowledge has come in more than a little handy around our house.

I'm sure the same experience can be had through Habitat for Humanity or any of a number of other organizations.

RubenDF

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2013, 01:16:14 PM »
Thanks everyone for your responses! I guess I'm just paralyzed by fear... I found a few books I'm gonna check out this weekend and go from there - Thanks again!

RMD

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2013, 01:59:25 PM »
You can do it!

A few years ago, at age 39, I managed to replace an expandable toilet flange all on my own.  Scared to death I'd mess it up, but I did it! (And my husband wanted to hire it out...ha!)

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2013, 02:19:18 PM »
Other people, no smarter, or no better equipped than you are doing the same tasks. Determination is a great tool of accomplishment. Need is an even better one.

If you need it done, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse.

Lastly, "Don't fear the reaper." - Blue Oyster Cult.

NV Teacher

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Re: Two Left Hands
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2013, 10:18:20 PM »
Luckily for me I grew up on a farm with a dad that could fix anything and made us work along-side him.  In my current house I put down the wood flooring, changed out all the light fixtures, did most of the painting, all of the drywall repair, and tonight I put in the last pieces of baseboard.  Not too bad for a girl. 

When I bought this house it need some big updates and lots of smaller cosmetic changes but I'm on the pay as you go plan so it's taken me five years to make all the improvements.   I can finally see the end of the road and it feels good.

As for your situation I would see if there are people that could help you with small jobs here and there and learn from them.  Offer to help others with projects and you'll be surprised what you will pick up.  Lastly ask lots of questions.  Good Luck.