Saturday, March 27, 2010

Classic Thought vs. Box Store Employees

I am going to start keeping score. Surprise surprise, 1 to 0, Classic Thought in the lead.

As I prepared to lay my floor, I went out on what I thought would be a quick errand to pick up flooring nails. Both of my preferred hardware stores knew exactly what I was looking for, but sadly admitted that they didn't carry those nails anymore. Reluctantly I went on over to Lowes thinking that in their extensive selection I could find what I needed. Ten minutes of staring at the wall of fasteners yielded no results. After another ten minutes I finally captured one of the employees (I'll call him Bob) as he was scurrying off to what must have been an impending emergency in any isle except the one I was in. After walking up and down the store looking for the nail isle (as if he didn't know where it was) we looked through the selection. When Bob finally realized that no, I wasn't going to be using a pneumatic flooring nailer he said,  "Wait, you can't do that by hand! you'll have to drill every single nail- and the heads have to be countersunk! You need a pneumatic flooring nailer- we sell them in isle ten".
Not wanting to get into a philosophical discussion on why sometimes I don't mind doing things the "hard" way, I told him "It's only one-hundred square feet". Bob replied "A hundred square feet- that's ten by ten(apparently he can multiply), you can't do that by hand! You'll need to nail it every six inches- it'll take you forever!" Just as I was about to give up, another employee, who we can call Bill, appeared seeing that his coworker was in trouble. Together they tried to sell me every nail they had as I retreated backwards out of the store in defeat.

   I drove across town to Home Depot, darted inside, made a b-line straight to the nail wall without making eye contact with any of the clerks, found two boxes of 2 -1/2" spiral-shank conical head flooring nails, paid and left before the army of pneumatic-nailer toting salesmen could amass. It was at this time that I realized that in my haste I had forgotten got to pick up the insulation while I was at Lowes. When I walked back in the door, Bob and Bill were right there, probably reveling in their victory. Feeling confident after my own victory at Home Depot, I showed them the nail. Bill said, "Oh yeah, that's a flooring nail. We have those in isle four." I didn't even know how to respond. I crept off to the insulation district, out of Bob and Bill's jurisdiction and finished my shopping in peace.

One thing that I have really enjoyed about this project has been taking my time, thinking things out and focusing on enjoying the process. There are some things that would take prohibitively long to achieve the results I am looking for. For example, planing and shaping my flooring could be done entirely with unpowered tools. It would take a long time and I would probably cease to enjoy it along the way. While the noise of a power planer and router are obnoxious, they achieve excellent results quickly. Without these tools I would probably have installed a much more rustic looking floor, skipping the planing and shaping process all together. It would be a functional floor, but would not have the style and strength that I want. Using the power tools has allowed me to achieve a result that I would otherwise have not been able to reach. This is great application for technology. When it comes to nailing the floor down, It did take me longer to do it by hand than it would have with a nailer, but it was an enjoyable process and the end result is basically the same as it would have been with the nailer. After this I know every board really well; I can point to the spots where I had a bent nail, or the location where I bloodied my thumb. With power tools it is easy to zone out and not pay attention to and enjoy the process. I know that this work will pay off in the form of enjoyment when I am sitting in my finished house, enjoying the memories of the construction.

Now it's time for a quick update and more photos:
The lower section of the floor is finished and I framed up the east wall- I can now gaze out of the R.O. for my kitchen window. I laid about half of the upper level floor before running out of finished boards. Today I want to build the north wall and cut some more flooring.


  1. I had a similar experience at a grocery store. I asked for chocolate chips, and was quickly led to packaged chocolate chip cookies, and I said, "not cookies, just chocolate make them at home". Oh!!! she says, and takes me to chocolate chip muffin mix. Even better she says, it's chocolate chocolate chip and you can cook them at home. Thanks, I said, not wanting to follow this woman around anymore. Never found the chocolate chips.

  2. This is a classic story. My worst experience was with a guy who insisted a CO detector was a "carbon dioxide detector" and lectured me on the exact wrong way to install it.