To lighten the mood of a frustrating task, I start talking to inanimate objects. As it isn’t socially acceptable to talk with tools and materials, I begin to feel naughty and can focus on that feeling, instead of the challenge at hand.
For instance, when I’m working on removing trim for re-use, I’ve found that what I say to the pieces has an impact on how well I preserve them. Trim is synonymous with lingerie for many reasons, and it’s not difficult to connect them in my mind at the moment of removal, so I have to be wary of screwing it up. As I coax a quality piece of adornment off a structure, I use firm gentle strokes and whisper sexy words to it, to “un-guild the lily”.
Sometimes trim is made like ancient cotton briefs stained by use, so I can talk nasty to it while tearing it from the wall with my bare hands. Studs are even more fun to reclaim because they’ve been nailed so thoroughly to the wall, that they need a hard pounding with a heavy hammer and filthy language, to properly undo.
Deciding between sweet talk and dirty talk, is a matter of balancing quality in the materials, with the hope of doing something with them again. Asking myself how long it will take to satisfy the preservation of the material vs how much energy it would take to re-create them, is rewarding and necessary to the trade.
The process is further complicated by how slutty the wood has been. Has it been nailed in the face repeatedly? Was it stacked wet against other pieces for long periods of time, showing it’s dissatisfied need for sunlight and air as a rotten weak spot? What does the grain look like, and is the board straight? How many knots would need to be addressed when planing it, and does it have hidden scraps of previous nail mistakes buried inside?
Sometimes I’m surprised by an ancient beauty, and fall in love with a beam that could be a thousand years old. The strength in the piece of old growth beckons me to care for it, and the wisest choice is to do whatever I need to in order to reclaim it. I’ll strip away a dozen ugly boards with commentary reflecting their fake veneers and plastic faces, then BAM!!! There is a gem!! All work stops as I run my hands over her golden surface, and my words are lost in a dream come true.