Have you ever tried to do something new? I mean, have you
ever tried to accomplish something you never attempted before?
I mean, have you ever attempted something that you had no idea
how to do it? I mean; well, you know what I mean, don't you?
You know; something new and you didn't have a clue about what
you were doing. Heck, now I'm not too sure I know what I mean.
Must be an age or overworked sort of thing.
Anyway, I'm in the middle of this three-year-old remodeling,
home improvement project and decided it would be nice to make
wall-hanging cabinets to match my basement-remodeling project.
The problem is; I don't have any experience in building wall
cabinets. In fact, I don't have any idea of how the pro's do it.
I just know what I want it to look like, and that means I have
to make it myself.
When I'm finished, my basement is supposed to look like a
hunting or fishing cabin. I'm using fresh-cut cedar paneling
and making all my own trim out of very rough knotty pine and
1 X 3 firring strips, making sure I leave as many knots and
rough edges on the wood as possible. All the pine is stained
with early American stain to look similar to the paneling, but
Old tin buckets and brass spittoons are just part of the décor.
I'll hang a rusty trap or two and a couple of old cane rods on
the wall with an age-darkened wicker creel to add to the atmosphere.
The joints on my trim are intentionally a little out of alignment.
It's supposed to look like a back-woods cabin interior when I'm
finished with it. You finish your basement the way you want;
I'll do mine my way.
That brings me back to the cabinet. I finally decided to just
do it. I built the basic cabinet out of 1X12 knotty pine
(stained of course) and the four doors out of the same firring
strips and paneling I've been using elsewhere in the basement.
The thing is 6ft long, 2ft tall and a foot deep with four doors.
The door handles are made from pieces of deer antler I cut on
the band saw. It looks just like the rest of the basement.
The basic cabinet is square, but the doors are just slightly
out of square and the 45-degree cuts on the corners of the doors
are actually 42 to 44 degrees so the joints will look a bit rough.
My dad helped me with the cabinet. He was visiting and knows
less about building a cabinet than I do, so it was a fun day.
He kept saying that the thing looked a bit rough. I kept
reminding him that it needed to look a bit rough. Finally,
my neighbor (a real carpenter who builds finished cabinets
for his customers) came over to see how I was doing. My dad
was explaining that we didn't have much experience in cabinet
building when Mike (the neighbor) said it looked great.
That must have been a shock to my dad. He had to sit down
for a while. Maybe the 100 plus degree heat had something
to do with it, but Mike's statement caught dad off guard.
Mike knows what I'm trying to do, so he knows why I make
it to look a bit rough. He said the cabinet would be
perfect in a hunting or fishing cabin. In other words,
considering that is the look I want; I built a perfect
What does any of this have to do with flyfishing? Nothing;
unless you consider the attitude it took to build that cabinet.
Somebody reading this is considering building a fly rod or
learning how to tie flies; but he/she is scared to make
mistakes or that the finished project will look rough.
What's wrong with that? Your first fly and my first
cabinet are supposed to look rough. We're both new at
this game, so our projects will look a bit rough. In
the case of my cabinet, it blends in with the rest of
my basement project. Your first fly will blend in with
the thousands of flies you tie after that first one;
same with that first fly rod.
This stuff is supposed to be fun. If you expect perfection
the first time around, it won't be fun. Tie the easy stuff
and lose them in the willows like the rest of us. Trees don't
care if the fly looks good or not. Make the first rod or two
for your kids or the kid next door. Trust me on this one;
they won't care if it's perfect. You took the time to build
it special just for them. In time your flies and rods will
improve a lot. However, if you're like me, they will never
be perfect enough to avoid thoughts of how to make them
better; same with that cabinet.
Anyway, my cabinet was supposed to look rough. What's your excuse?