The Time I Learned How to Use a Blow Torch

Some people feel like a badass when they use power tools.

I just feel like an ass.

My family wasn’t big into the whole DIY thing; instead we just had guys. The paint guy, the lawn guy, the electrician guy. I think there might even be a Christmas light guy these days, not at MY house, but at my dad’s house. Sorry Dad, I threw ya under the bus.

These days, I only have one guy. His name is Josh and he’s the handiest guy I know in real life. He’s also my boyfriend and the reason why living in a 110-year-old house isn’t one cluster after another. Or, to be more precise, why it isn’t a cluster for me. He’ll swear up and down that he’s nothing special, but I live with the guy. He’s like Bob Vila, but with a younger beard.

The only thing that’s frustrating about living with a handy dude in a fixer-upper is that I constantly feel helpless when it comes to home improvements. I can’t even hang a picture the right way. He mows the lawn and I do the laundry. He fixes toilets and I make dinner. He hooks up the new gas line for our oven and I vacuum the rug. I know it’s all “traditional gender roles” and stuff, but it works and we own it. We are both contributing a lot, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to help (or go to Home Depot for something other than plants and Circus Peanuts).

I do want to, I just don’t even know where to start.

Recently, we renovated our kitchen. There were many, many, MANY shopping outings where we looked for grown-up things like cabinets, kitchen islands, lighting, counter tops and appliances. There was lots of discussion on every single item (maybe even a heated debate or two), but one thing we both loved were some rustic shelves supported by these steel thingamabobs (brackets, I suppose?). We saw them at a fancy store, with a fancy price tag to match.

Josh says to me, “I could make those.”

I really despise when people say things like that, cause it’s like, “Yeah, you could. But are you going to?” Which is precisely what I said to Josh.

A week later, I’m in his parent’s garage, wearing safety glasses, a leather mitt and holding a blowtorch (this was after we drilled holes into the steel with a drill press… also scary!). You crank the torch on the steel thingamabob, which is held firmly in a vise, until it gets all orange. At that point, you take the mitted hand and bend the steel in half, at a 90 degree angle, just like Superman! You do this a bunch of times until you have four brackets. Then, your boyfriend takes a piece of reclaimed wood and fashions two planks. And then you put them all together and you get this:

The completed shelves, with a bunch of crap on them. 
The completed shelves, with a bunch of crap on them.

I didn’t even burn the garage down! But I did manage to over-bend the steel (which is probably because I am so strong), thus Josh had to fix a few of them. But that’s okay, ’cause while he was fixing them, I was making dinner… where I just might use my blowtorch skills for making crème brûlée.

* * *

Since using a blow torch, I’ve used all sorts of power tools. Like the time I built a fence! On the flip side, I built this bench with ZERO tools, which was also very satisfying.

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