human behavior

Liberation by Jigsaw

Posted in Crafts, Home improvement by humanb on September 21, 2012

Fresh from my first mosaic project and now bitten by the tile bug, I started looking for more opportunities to incorporate mosaics into my mother-in-law’s house while she was away. Her front porch was still a priority and seriously lacking in furniture to my liking; so I narrowed in on a busted wooden bench by the backyard pool. The bench looked a good deal like this:

The seat of the bench was made of vertical slats of wood, and after a particularly bad storm (and an ant infestation), the seat had fallen to pieces.  I decided to get a new piece of wood cut that I could tile.

Easier said than done. My local hardware store, the largest of its kind in Sydney, refused to cut the wood for any price because they claimed to lack the equipment! The one store in the chain that would cut to specific dimensions was almost thirty minutes away and ultimately of no use to me, as the store would only cut a simple rectangle. The bench also needed small squares cut from the corners to accommodate the legs.

So I took to the internet and found two local wood suppliers. Both gave me quotes above $250(!) to cut a simple rectangular seat. And neither would cut smaller squares from the corners to accommodate the legs.


My bench seat mosaic was destined to go the way of my living room table dreams because I couldn’t get a stupid piece of wood cut.

So I swallowed my fear and bought a jigsaw.

I didn’t even pretend to know what I was looking for. I went straight to the floor assistant and told him that I’d never used a power tool, and that I needed him to tell me everything that I had to buy to cut a bench seat. I left the store with a thick piece of MDF, a pair of safety goggles, a bag of face masks, ear muffs, two clamps, three blades, and yes: a jigsaw.  I bought the bottom of the line model for $35.

The instructions for using the jigsaw were pretty straight forward, but the damn thing was bloody hard to control, made uneven cuts, and broke after only one session. Great.

Back to the hardware store.

I traded the $35 model for a $40 model that was considerably more reliable.

It worked like a dream. Clean lines. Easy handling. Loved it.

I cut my own bench seat in the end, complete with cut-out corners!

Check it out:

The seat is heavy enough to lay on top of the bench without being fixed, so it can be lifted off at any time. It will no doubt last longer than the bench it was made for.

Like my house number mosaic, this one uses ordinary bathroom tiles in blue and white to cover the bulk of the seat – the same blue tiles as in the house number mosaic. I saved the venetian glass tesserae for the center.

What really sets the piece off, however, is the choice of black grout, which I also used in my first project.

I love this piece. The simplicity of design. The successful escape from kitsch (in my humble opinion). But most of all, I’m just so proud of myself for making it. I didn’t just glue some ceramic squares on to a pre cut slab. I brought out the bloody power tools and crafted this sucker from scratch.

And it looks great on the developing front porch – another dimension of color and pattern to catch the eye.

To all the middle-aged men out there with power tool addictions: I totally get it now. It’s not about the gadget and what it can do. It’s about what you can do by your damned self with the help of these tools. You don’t need to call that other guy for help – that seemingly over-competent, callous-handed plumber or carpenter or handyman who inevitably emasculates you by solving your problems. You’ve got it sorted now.

Because power tools are empowering!


One Response

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  1. Diane Sabesin Tepper said, on July 9, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Hi there,
    I am your mother-in-law’s cousin. You are as awesome as she said. I say so too. Empowering – YES. Lovely – YES. So happy to be a part of the clan. Diane

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