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Old 12-06-2018, 07:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Richmond, Va
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Default What would you do?

I spent a good portion of yesterday working on a project with my Dad who as many of you may know had a major stroke several years ago. The stroke left him with very very limited speech and very little movement in his right arm and hand. Dadís insurance benefits no longer cover therapy but fortunately he is in a program at a nearby college where he gets both speech and occupational therapy. The lady heading up the occupational program has encouraged me to do some basic woodworking projects with Dad to help with therapy and to encourage him to try to use his right hand more. Yesterdayís project was to make a small memory box for his first Great Granddaugter who just turned 1 (my Great Niece). The box is a simple cube with a hinged top.

Since Dad is unsteady on his feet, I had him cut the top, bottom, and sides using a scroll saw. I thought that it would be the safest option. He managed to get all six boards cut but the cuts were not exactly straight. He sanded until he got tired and I finished sanding for him. He sat down and we assembled the box with screws. The resulting box has some noticeable gaps along some of the seams and where the lid closes. Oddly enough the stroke actually seems to have enhanced Dadís powers of observation and he of course noticed all the flaws and was disappointed. Mom asked me to take the box home and paint it which brings me to my dilemma. I am tempted to to fill the gaps and to straighten the box where the lid fits but I want the box to be as much of Dadís work as possible. Should I paint the box as is or try to make some improvements?
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Old 12-06-2018, 07:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I would just finish the box the way it is. Eventually, as his therapy continues to help gain motor control, he will be able to build more boxes and see the improvements he has made with time. I could see this being a nice thing to look back on one day to remember just how far he has come.
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Old 12-06-2018, 07:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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As is. The Great Granddaughter will appreciate it when she gets older. He did the best he could with the abilities he has. You said he notices the small things. He will notice that you tried to correct what he did and then it won't be "his" box. JMHO.
Randy Short


Self Pity. I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. D. H. Lawrence
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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As a former Recreation Therapist, I would not make any modifications. If asked to, I would counsel the client that their efforts even with a few flaws is more meaningful than a project that has been modified.

Having said that, your circumstances are different; it may be fully justified that this (or another) is a "family" project done jointly. If your father enjoyed this project it may lead to another, and he could indicate where he would like you to make some improvements. In that case he will retain a sense of control over the project, and even have the opportunity to "guide once again his ...graying and retired youngster."
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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You said that your dad noticed them and it bothered him. Maybe just ask him if he'd like you to "spruce up" the parts that bug him about it. Tell him a story that you remember from when you were a kid where he helped you make something better than you liked.
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I agree with the others, leave it the way it is. As your father continues to do these projects hopefully he'll improve and will notice that improvement. That's good medicine in my opinion.
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:28 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with Brian on this. You are having the conversation with him and can get a better feel as to his thoughts. If it bothered him then show him a way to correct any problems with the project.

Boy how I wish my Dad was still with me so we too could enjoy moments like that again. He taught me so much as I grew up and my woodworking skills are all due to him.
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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How many of us started out with a piece of anything made of wood that was perfect? "It's the thought that counts!" My wife and I get little crafty things from the grandkids. Not perfect to some but to us grandparents, they rank up there with the Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel.
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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As is is my vote as well.
Hope that makes sense.

Be happy in your work...Col. Saito

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Old 12-06-2018, 10:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks for all of the input. I left it alone for the most part. I did sand one corner a little so that the lid would close better. I put a coat of milk paint on it and will leave it at that.

Dad always had trouble standing by and watching others do projects, his first inclination was to jump in and help. I am definitely his son in that regard. As I was thinking about this memory box project, I remembered participating in the pine box derby as a Cub Scout. Dad oversaw my efforts but did not do any of the actual work. I now know how hard that must have been for him. My derby entry was the ugliest of the pack with one xception. One kid who was being raised by a single mom had a car that looked even worse than mine. His car would not even roll until Dad helped him adjust it. I remember being upset that Dad had helped the other kid when all of the the other cars looked so much better than mine. As luck would have it my car ended up being the fastest despite one crooked wheel (I still wonder how that happened) and I won a little trophy. On the way home, Dad told me how proud he was that I had done all of the work myself. He said that he helped the other kid because he didn’t have anyone to tell him how to fix his car and that he was sure that the other boys had gotten a lot of hands on help from their fathers.
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