By: Al Nixon
Several weeks ago I started building a deer blind. It would seem that this is a quite innocent pastime, with very little to worry about. HA! That just goes to show what you know. (And what I don’t)
I went to Home Depot. A catchy phrase, I may use it again. I bought a stack of 2X3’s and some sheets of OSB. I took them home. I already had some 4x4’s and some 2x4’s for the corners and floor or ceiling framework.
I had already made a drawing of what I wanted the overall structure to look like, and how to make it. I thought that a modular design, with the walls floor roof and shutters all made as individual items. That way I could just put them together with long deck screws, anytime or anywhere I chose. To determine the height of the look/shoot opening, that goes all the way around, I sat in a folding chair and held a 48" rule up near my head and looked at the most comfortable number on the ruler. I decided to make the walls that high, and that’s how I drew them up. When I build stuff I make it very sturdy. I made those walls nice and sturdy indeed. I’m not likely to take them back apart. Then I realized that I had drawn the walls with the horizontal studs inside the verticals and then built them with the verticals inside the horizontals. In case you missed the subtle difference, the walls are 3" taller than I designed for. I will get a tall chair.
I thought very carefully, but didn’t do much math when preparing for this project. Math is important. How many of what is a good thing to know. I didn’t buy any hardware when I bought the lumber. Hinges for the door, and the shutters, and latches for the door and the shutters and some kind of handle for the door are missing. I went to Home Depot. (see I knew I’d use it again) I came home with a multitude of hardware. I built all of the modules and made a couple small mistakes. I went to Home Depot. I got some more pieces of lumber and continued to build modules. Oh by the way, Home Depot had run out of 2x3 studs by now and so I had to get a 2x4 to finish up the last of the modules.
Now I will assemble this baby and we shall see what we shall see. I can do this. Its going to stand 8’ at the highest point and 5’8" at the lowest (that should have been 6’ I haven’t the foggiest) and its 4x4’ in footprint but I can do it. I laid the pieces out on the ground and began. After an evening of sheer labor and intermittent panic, it stands. No roof, and no upper walls but it stands. I retire for the evening, and put a small tarp over it in case a small rain should come along. Its been threatening rain all month and nary a drop, so why would this day be any different. It rained, actually poured for the whole day and into the night. I noticed that the tarp was holding and not even sagging more than it had in the beginning. Why doesn’t that sound right? I go out into the rain and look. Yup the tarp has some wear leaks, right in the lowest place and the deer blind is filling up with water. Rather it would be filling up if it would hold water. Curious isn’t it, how things become clearer when you actually are doing a thing as opposed to when you dreamed it up. The rain passed and I installed the roof. This was another major task when done alone. Its only fair to inject here that my hunting buds would have helped if I had requested, and my wife offered to help but I can do this. Have I said that before?
Now all that is left is to put up the upper wall modules, install the shutters, built out of scraps of the rest of the structure, and paint. I found that getting the upper walls and the roof to be square is more work than it appears on paper, but after a modification or two and some shaky ladder work, we got it. On with the shutters ah yes how sweet it is. WAIT, there isn’t enough OSB for the last shutter, and LOOK, there isn’t enough continuous 2x4 to give it a rigid edge. I went to Home Depot. (An obnoxious phrase if ever there was one) I needed to buy paint now anyway, some was on sale so all is well. I look for a bin labeled "ends and pieces" for both the 2x4 and the OSB, which does not exist. It looks like I’ll have to buy a whole sheet of OSB and a whole 2x4 in order to make one 10x41" shutter. I found a man working there who said if there was any such item it would be trashed and turned away, than added, the trash bin is just past the panel saw. With heart rushing I went back to the area he described and there was a perfect little piece of OSB that would work. When I asked him how he was going to price it up, he marked it trash and no charge. What a nice guy. I did have to buy a whole 2x4 but they are cheap. The paint was on sale but the thinner and the primer were not. Oh well.
Finally I have the structure finished and its time to prime it. I get out my stuff and get ready. The paint is in the pressure pot, which is sealed and ready. I hook up the hose from the compressor and pump about ½ gallon of expensive primer out onto the ground. I hadn’t connected the hose that carries paint to the gun onto the pressure pot. It wouldn’t have mattered though, because the gun was still in my pocket with nothing connected to it either. The paint would have just pumped out somewhere else. I did get it hooked up and started priming. The gun was all maladjusted so I ran out of primer before I got all of the exterior walls primed. I went inside put additional thinner in the pressure pot which gave me just enough volume to finish the exterior. The interior will not get primed. I had a small scuffle with my wife, because she wanted to give me advice and suggestions during my time of severe self-loathing over the primer mess. Everything is now cleaned up, and I have a new outlook on tomorrow. The paint will go on smoothly and evenly, because I will take double effort to get the adjustments all made and the connections all connected before I begin to paint.
I have about $150.00 into this $60.00 deer blind, and wouldn’t sell it for a penny less than $350.00. I have fixed all my mistakes and even installed a nice shelf inside, so its well worth $350.00. If anyone buys it I can make another. After this much practice the second one should cost much less and be worth much more.