To be honest, when we started out with the Soccer Box in October, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I’d dabbled in the world of wood and power-tools before when we did our summer project, making planters for the New E3 school in Ghent, and again for a similar project in September–but I had truly no idea what I was getting myself into when I joined in on the first brainstorm. It seemed simple enough: construct a wooden box for the soccer team–one that could withstand the elements and general use–in time for the Spring season. We made sure our plans matched the criteria we’d been given by Coach Taragan, with measurements and general concepts plotted out, then Googled prices and listed materials we thought we’d need. Easy enough, we’d probably be done in a month.
Yeah, it wasn’t that simple.
Here are just a few of the lessons I learned from this nearly-six-month-long extravaganza:
- The age-old cliché was entirely true: measure twice, cut once.
- USE A LEVEL. AND A RULER. OR BOTH.
- Please: Wear goggles when cutting wood.
- It’s a good idea to worry more about the quality of plywood when it’s being used for the doors! Low-quality plywood warps very easily in changing temperatures such as ours. Trust me, it’s really a headache (and about two weeks) to try and level out and sand down a set of doors won’t ever fit together right because the pieces keep bending.
- Teamwork is absolutely essential! Always have a partner to help you hold pieces in place. (We wasted so much time and stripped so many screws trying to readjust our mistakes.)
- Painting a large box requires so many coats of paint. More than you’d think.
- A proper painters kit includes the following: painter’s tape, smocks pilfered from the art workshop, and patience.
- Reserve at least 35 minutes to wash rollers after painting. You must be completely okay with having paint stains on your hands for two months.
- Seriously, everything’s better with friends. Just don’t allow you and your team to get too sidetracked, and don’t blast The Little Mermaid musical songs too loudly.
If I were to do it over again, I’d do a lot of things differently. We could’ve easily reduced our project time by at least a couple of months, maybe finishing the box before midterms, if we knew the above. But that doesn’t mean those mistakes weren’t worthwhile. Even if it did end up in extra time spent, we learned so much from our downfalls. Hopefully, we can teach these lessons to our incoming group of Fellows over the summer and next year!
Seeing the Soccer Box finally finished? Best feeling ever. I took a million pictures, the best few of which I have displayed helpfully for you above.
All in all, I like to think it was the perfect inaugural project for the 2024 Fellows.