Overcoming My Fear of Power Tools

Posted on October 13, 2014

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Picking up power tools for the first time is intimidating (at least it was for me). Fortunately, I was with a group of women who knew what they were doing and made sure I didn’t drill a hole through my finger. A few weeks ago, I attended my first Do-It-Herself workshop at my local Home Depot store. I decided to sign up after seeing the class featured an Ana White design – her rolling storage cart.

For those of you who do not know Ana White, she’s probably one of the most famous DIY woodworkers in the blogosphere, and she’s a mom who lives in Alaska, which is pretty cool too. Her website and blog feature all types of projects, and she includes the plans on how to build them. Her storage cart project didn’t look too complicated, so I thought it would be a good one to try for someone new to woodworking. Home Depot offers these “DIH” classes for free (yay for free), which is great for beginners as well as more experienced DIYers who want to pick up some new skills or hone their existing ones by working on a project.

Ana White at a DIH Workshop for the Home Depot.

Ana White at a DIH Workshop for the Home Depot.

When I signed up for the class, I actually didn’t know if it would be hands-on or not. Part of me secretly hoped I could just hide in the back row and observe from afar. The thought of using a saw that actually plugs into an outlet made my hands sweat combined with the fact that I can’t cut a straight line with a pair of scissors. But as it turned out, there was no place to hide – the class was small – just four of us plus the instructor.

Perhaps fate stepped in, because after several attempts and jiggering, the miter saw did not work properly. Thank goodness! I mean, darn it. However, not all was lost, as we did get to use a drill/screwdriver and an air nailer. Luckily, the instructor had most of the lumber pre-cut, so we could get started on the project. One neat thing I learned is that Home Depot rents out power tools, which is great if you don’t do a lot of woodworking, or if you want to try out some tools before investing in your own set. Another tip is if you just need a few lumber cuts made, most home improvement stores will do courtesy cuts for free (especially if they’re not busy).

So I’m happy to report that we successfully built the cart (with no injuries) and that getting my hands a little dirty was empowering. The class definitely made me more appreciative of the amount of time and effort that goes into building something yourself, and how important it is to be precise when cutting lumber – an 1/8 of inch off can throw off your entire project. So, really, measure twice and cut once.

If you’re interested in building Ana’s rolling storage cart, you can download the plans from her website. If you do build it, we’d love to see it! Please post your pictures to our DIY Facebook page.