I’ll admit it. When I was a lad, I fancied myself something of a handyman. After all, once you’ve helped your dad re-shingle the house, re-wire a few lamps and replace plumbing fixtures, you feel like you can do anything.
Guess how long it takes living in your own home before you realize that you don’t know squat? Yeah, about the time it took you to read that sentence. Fortunately though, Al Gore invented the internet, and once you shove past all the porn, there’s actually quite a bit of useful information out there.
The point of all this? I and my fiancée are getting married in a few weeks, and there’s a lot of work that goes into making that happen. And by “a lot” I mean a ridiculous amount. Actually “ridiculous amount” doesn’t begin to describe it. But you aren’t paying to hear me bitch about wedding plans. On with the show.
I’ll make the painful part of this little expose short: A few years ago I was really into the show “The Gilmore Girls.” No, seriously. I was. And it was a good show, for a little while. It was! Oh forget it, fine. I’m a loser. The reason I bring it up is because on the show, one of the characters made a chuppah for the main character’s wedding, and I remember thinking “That would be cool, to make something like that for a wedding.”
Fast forward a few years to me not watching that show anymore, but I still wanted to make a chuppah, so imagine my delight when I got the chance to marry a beautiful Jewish woman! After Googling “DIY chuppah”, this is the design I cobbled together.
4 large planters
2 bags QuikCrete fast-dry cement
4 2-foot lengths 2” diameter PVC pipe
4 1 ½ inches x 8 foot pine dowels
1 can wood stain
So let’s get started with stage one, shall we?
Sand those dowels, get all the splinters and rough patches out. I learned through some doing that you should spend some time on this one with a medium-grain sandpaper. Brush the sawdust off the poles with a soft rag.
Take one of the PVC pipes and stand it up in one of the pots. Drop one of the poles into the sheath. Measure where the top of the pipe is on the pole with a pencil mark. Do this for all four poles. This is the length below which you don’t need to worry about applying stain.
Now stain those poles. Use two wooden sawhorses and a Styrofoam pad applicator, and work that stain into the pine.
This will take you a while. It will sort of suck, because the stain will want to bead up in places – if this dries, it will look like someone drooled on the pole. You really have to go over and over the wood with your applicator, but you’ll get there. I advise having some music playing, and perhaps an organ grinder and monkey nearby to entertain you while you carry out this task.
OK, find a safe spot for your poles to dry out.
Now it’s time to focus on the pots. Get your first pot and PVC pipe, and the first bag of cement. This stuff is pretty forgiving, up to a point. You don’t have to worry too much about precision with your measurements, but don’t take too long doing anything, or you’re going to have a chunk of rock on your hands before you’re ready: the stuff dries in about 20 minutes.
Pour about half the bag into the planter. When you’ve finished choking on the dust, take a quart bottle full of water (again, this does not have to be precise: see the measurement device I used)
Pour that water on top of the dry cement, and using a hand trowel, mix vigorously. I mean work it. Dig the stuff up, find all the dry powder that hasn’t gotten hit with the water. It’s like a nightmarish version of instant oatmeal. You’ll probably want to go back for another two cups or so of water – just make sure you get all the powder. Don’t go too nuts – you don’t want runny mud, but you don’t want clay either. Right in between. Once you’ve got it all mixed, shove that PVC pipe right in the middle. Make sure it’s straight – use a level if you want. But get your hands in the mud and make sure that pipe is going to dry straight up and down.
Do this all four times, then go clean up. Watch an episode of “No Reservations” or “Dexter”. Have a drink. Relax.
When you go back, put your four stained poles into your PVC sheaths, and stand back. Nice job, you’ve finished Stage One!
Next weekend: Stage Two. Start thinking flowers, ivy and cloth. You heard me!