Do-it-yourself: Making your own stuff is liberating

Since Christmas, I have become something I never thought possible – a do-it-yourselfer.

All those commercials and television shows aimed at do-it-yourselfers have suddenly become relevant. I see things in stores around town and I think, ‘Yeah, I bet I could make that.”

It’s a pretty liberating feeling.

Since the beginning of January, my husband and I have successfully built a workbench, which at times was difficult because we had no bench to work on when we were building it.

We’re now finishing up a set of shelves for the basement and we’re planning on building a fence for the backyard so our dog Lou can run off his leash.

And as we work on these projects I’m finding that, these days, do-it-yourselfers have it made. We can do a Google search for “free (fill in the blank) instructions” and hundreds of options pop up. The basement shelves that will someday hold our canned food from the garden, as well as excess kitchen supplies, are being built with free instructions from the Internet. It’s amazing what can be done with some plywood and a few two-by-fours.

The best website we have found, by far, for do-it-yourselfers is

I could spend hours of my life looking at designs on that web site. Indeed, I fell down the rabbit hole again while writing this column. I was looking for the coffee table we’d like to build, the “Tryde” coffee table, and ended up finding a dresser I added to the list – the “Rolling Rust Wood Dresser,” though I think I’ll make it sans the wheels.

That’s really the wonderful thing about do-it-yourself building. There are so many things that I could go buy in any number of stores, but I wouldn’t enjoy them half as much as the things we’re making – and we can also personalize the pieces to our taste. We chose the “Tryde” coffee table because we needed something much, much heavier than our current coffee table. Our dog, Lou, a roughly 60-pound Labrador retriever, really likes to fall asleep in that small space under the table. He then wakes up, forgetting he’s under there, and sends the coffee table flying. We need something a little more Lou-proof.

The fence will also be a unique part of the house, since the entire thing will be hand built. That means we won’t have to compromise the sense of style we share with what our pocketbooks tell us we can afford. Sure, the lumber may be a little costly, but I’m sure buying the wood and then doing the rest ourselves would be much cheaper than having someone come in and install the fence for us. Plus, building these things gives my husband and I chance to work on something together, other than the dishes that both of us hate to do.

I’d never held a power drill in my life until a few weeks ago. The handiest thing I’ve ever done is pound a nail in the wall to hang a picture. But that’s also the beauty of doing things yourself – you find that you are capable of doing almost anything you want. With a few tools – a drill, a saw, a level and some screws – you can really build a lot of stuff.

Today, the shelves will be stained, and likely Sunday or Monday they’ll be ready for us to use. And then, it will be on to the next project.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is