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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Tools: the planter

Chuck Hinman: Tools / The planter that Chuck built. Chuck often rewrote his stories. Here is the 2004 Tools and its 2011 revision The Planter That Chuck Built. Chuck, having never laid a brick but having seen it done, undertakes a fourteen foot planter. His earlier writings often have charms not in the revisions.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Hogshooter, USA

By Chuck Hinman

Tools

On the subject of 'Tools' let me say there are two kinds of 'fixer-guys' - #1 - those who when the stork dropped them down the chimney were always found to be equipped with a pair of pliers tucked in their wet diaper, and - #2 - those like the rest of us who when randomly asked if we have a pair of pliers on us, have to answer with bowed head in the negative.


My Dad always had a pair of pliers -- even though he was dressed up and in church. What possible use could he have anticipated? I don't have a clue!!!

The #2 group just described (I am a member) proceeded on in life with these philosophies -- "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," or "I never could afford the right tools so I had to hire it done."

A strange urge to build

A few years after we moved into our new little house at 3812 Lester, I got the strange urge to build a brick planter between the front porch and the sidewalk leading to the porch. I purchased several hundred buff bricks to do the job. We didn't have much money so I wanted to do the job as economically as possible which meant I didn't want to spend much money on tools. We're talking about this guy that doesn't own a pair of pliers!

I had never laid a brick before but had seen some brick-layers who didn't look like rocket scientists. So I pressed on, indomitable spirit that I am! (Not!)

Tools needed for a planter

I decided at a minimum I needed a wheelbarrow in which to mix the mortar, sand, dry cement, a trowel, a cheap level, and a lot of patience. I had about 20 bucks invested in tools.

The first day I formed-up with some scrap 2x4's a small trench in the ground a little wider than the width of a brick.

This is to hold the cement foundation on which to lay the bricks. The longest part of the trench (14 feet) lay next to the sidewalk along the front of the porch. Then I extended this trough on each end up to where it reached the porch, about 4 feet. As you can picture, the planter would be 4 x 14 by about 18 inches high.

Using the level, I made sure the mortar would give me a level foundation on which to start.

I let the foundation mortar cure for a couple of days so it wouldn't crack.

Starting the job with prayer

With the framing material removed, it was time to start the job with a prayer:

Heavenly Father, you of all people know that I don't know what I am about to get into. I humbly ask that you guide me brick by brick and don't let me make a mess to be laughed at the rest of my life. Thank you in advance for your guidance. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Fast speed ahead two days! The job is done. The tools are cleaned up and put away. It looks like a planter without dirt or shrubs. Don't look to carefully or you can see there is a small bend or wave in the brick along the 14' length.

In due time I filled the planter with enriched dirt, and planted three blue spreading pfitzers in it. I always noticed the wave in the brick until the pfitzers spread over the bricks.

Fifty years without cracking

Here's the part of which I am most proud. I have seen many similar planters on houses that in time cracked and were an eyesore until removed and/or replaced!

My planter has never cracked. It is 50 some years old!

Knowing I was going to write this article, I wanted to be accurate so I drove by the house a few hours ago before sundown to verify that the planter is still in place. From the road it appears to be A - OK!

Chuck Hinman
Bricklayer

P. S. Thank you, Lord!

Written by Chuck Hinman, ImPeruvians Writing Club, 28 March 2004
Below is the revised version Chuck sent out in 2011.


The planter that Chuck built

In 1954, after Connie and I moved to our new little house at 3812 Lester here in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, I got the urge to build a brick planter between the front porch and the sidewalk leading to the porch. I bought several hundred buff bricks to do the job.

We didn't have much money so I needed to be economical as possible on the purchase of tools.

Square cake pan becomes a builder's square

For example (and don't laugh) I used one of Connie's square cake pans for a builder's square. This is not so outlandish when you consider that I did not come from a long line of craftsmen who carried a pair of pliers in their diapers when they were babies.

My even attempting to build a simple planter would be like most guys' attempting to build something complicated like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In other words, it was a formidable undertaking for little old me and I trembled at the outcome!

Never laid a brick before

I had never laid a brick before. So I pressed on.

I decided at a minimum I needed a wheelbarrow in which to mix the mortar, sand, dry cement, a trowel (I rejected the thought of using our pancake turner for a trowel), a cheap level, and a lot of patience. I had about twenty bucks invested in tools which I probably would never use again.

The first day I formed-up with some scrap 2x4's a small trench in the ground a little wider than the width of a brick. This was to hold the cement foundation on which to lay the bricks. The longest part of the trench (14 feet) lay next to the sidewalk along the front of the porch. Then I extended this trough on each end up to where it reached the porch, about four feet.

Using the level, I made sure the mortar would give me a level foundation on which to start.

I let the foundation mortar cure for a couple of days so it wouldn't crack.

Asking heaven for guidance

With the framing material removed, it was time to start the job with a prayer: "Heavenly Father, you of all people know that I don't know beans about what I am about to get into. I humbly ask that you guide me brick by brick and don't let me make a mess to be laughed at the rest of my life. Thank you in advance for your guidance. In Jesus' name, Amen!"

Fast forward two days! The job is done. The tools are cleaned and put away. It looks like a planter without dirt or shrubs. Don't look too carefully or you can see there is a small bend or wave in the brick along the 14' length.

I filled the planter with enriched dirt, and planted three blue spreading pfitzers in it. I noticed the wave in the brick until the pfitzers spread over the bricks.

Answered prayer: planter still standing 55 years later

Here's the part of which I am most proud. I have seen many similar planters on houses that in time cracked and were an eyesore until removed and/or replaced!

My planter has never cracked. It is almost sixty years old! I am now legally blind and walk with a walker. The last time I was by 3812 Lester, the planter I built fifty-five years ago with a minimum of tools is still standing.

It is obvious that God answered the prayer of this thirty-two year old young man that God would lead me in the building of that planter.

Drive by 3812 Lester and see for yourself "the planter that Chuck built"!

Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed Saturday, 23 July 2011.



This story was posted on 2013-07-21 03:35:11
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