I’m great at making things hard on myself. I’m equally good at using a form of logic to convince myself that it’s for the greater good. My experience with learning how to cut rafters is as good an example as ever. There’s nothing quite like psychoanalyzing yourself while also trying to learn a new skill. A microscope is a great tool for getting a closer look, but you can zoom in too far and then you’re focused on nothing.
There are several ways to cut a rafter. The old school way is to use the “step off method,” which requires a carpenter’s square and a lot of thinking. Another method is to simply (enough) calculate the hypothetical length of the rafter and take a measurement from the ridge board intersection to the top of the “heel cut” which is in plane with the outside wall. I could have made all of this even easier by simply taking measurements from my Sketchup model, marking the boards and just cutting the fucking rafter.
I opted for a combination of these methods. I reasoned that I wanted to truly understand how the measurements are taken rather than just getting the result. In my mind the end did not justify the means.
Fair enough. So I spent all day yesterday over-thinking the process, watching tutorial videos on YouTube, reading various textbooks and generally just looking way too close at the matter. Finally, I was ready to plug in a saw and get to work. Instead of cutting two rafters and checking them for fit on the actual house, I opted to lay them on the ground and take some janky measurements. Good work, I thought, and I cut out every single rafter.
Mother-of-hell-shit. I got the ridge board in place and the rafters did not fit. I’m real proud of myself for deciding to build a house and everything, but it would probably be easier to jump off a building that already exists.
Everybody makes mistakes. A big setback is predictable. It still blows.
Eventually, I calmed down and was able to shut the fuck up long enough to breathe again. Zen. Calm. Who cares? I’m going to build something else later, and I can use these rafters then. Sure I can.
It has come to my attention that I’m not exactly impressed with myself for having the fortitude to take on a project like this one. What I am impressed with is that I will take on the project in spite of the fact that I know going into it that the learning process will bring my head dangerously close to explosion many many times. I am a hero for forging on against myself.