Daring DIY Projects RULE!

Not all DIY projects go well and that could very well be the case with this one. The staircase in the Chester, VT house has boards tacked up haphazardly pretending to be railings. I assume the previous owner’s insurance company made them do this – or they just gave up on finishing the railings properly and threw up these boards to delay the project indefinitely.

I had originally thought I might put up wire stair railing – a bit of a modern look that I thought would look cool alongside the exposed beams and rustic design of the rest of the open space. Alas, the “good stuff” is SO pricey! The quote was around $6500 so that was a fast and hard NO. There are so many other places to spend money in this house and that kind of splurge just ain’t in the budget!

There are kits sold at Home Depot and Lowes that are more affordable and that may be the direction we go at the end of the day. BUT the more I thought about it the more I could envision birch pieces in between the already existing posts. That would also be a cool look and a highlight of the wide-open kitchen/dining/living room space.

The trick for this to work is finding birch pieces that are already dry. Putting up freshly cut pieces will be a definite fail because they will shrink as they dry and in a few months’ time the whole project will need to be redone. Luckily, we live on a farm and there is birch everywhere. A while back we lost some birch to a windstorm and I knew of a couple of trees that were down but hanging in the air against other trees. THIS is ideal. They’ve had time to dry out some but they aren’t on the ground where they would rot very quickly.

Cue the Stihl. As someone who grew up on a farm and around horses and then in the car industry, I’m a girl that likes things with engines and motors and doing stuff outside. I am also however a bit of a klutz. So I have just a little chainsaw that my Dad bought me and I pick my projects wisely and try to be cautious about not biting off more than I can chew (I struggle with this one!) This particular project was NBD – We (my chainsaw Jeb and I that is) made short work of the trees and got the branches trimmed off.

My handsome husband suggested that we store the wood in our garage. Great idea! We’ll put this project off for a bit and let the wood continue to dry out. Some of it is definitely too thick for railings but we actually have a saw mill on our farm. I figure if we cut these large pieces in half, the cut side can be bottom of the lower railing, leaving the top still looking natural and round. This approach also doubles the useable pieces and shouldn’t be noticeable on the lower sections.

It’s an idea and not necessarily a tried and true one so we have some risk of failure here. BUT nothing unique and different doesn’t! Let’s chat about this for a moment. I have noticed that some of y’all in general in life want to know with absolute certainty that what you are about to embark on will succeed before you will take action. When applying for a job you will say “ah but I don’t think I’ll get it so I’m not going to bother.’ When thinking about accomplishing a goal you set you never get beyond the first step because you come up with too many ways you won’t succeed and decide not to try.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

My rule of thumb for risk-taking in any area of life is to ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” So you apply for the job and don’t get it. Big Friggin’ Deal. Or you fail at achieving the goal you set. So you start again with more information about what NOT to do! In this case, if we fail we’ll replace the birch with another material and I’ll have lost an hour of time cutting and getting the wood. And probably another hour running the large pieces through the saw mill. Both of these are time outside doing physical labor – which I enjoy so who cares! We’ll fail away if it is to be or we’ll have an awesome, unique railing. Time will tell!

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