The Apprentice Diary: Entry #15

It’s a funny old business, the building trade, we all strive to work smarter and more efficiently, while putting in a hard day’s work. So, when someone makes a mistake, I’m not sure why it can turn into a great opportunity for p#ss taking.


Now, as an apprentice, we kind of get used to it, as we’re expected to make ‘some’ mistakes. However, when an experienced builder makes one, well, it’s payback time. This recently happened, when one of the builders built a kitchen bench return 90mm too short. He made it 600mm deep from the outside of the return, not the inside, so when the kitchen was installed, it was hanging out 90mm. As you can imagine, lots of jokes were thrown in about coming up short, or not having enough length, or give it some water see if it grows.

Small jobs

In my last article, I wrote about finishing a four- month new build project, which was great. Since then I’ve been struggling to really get started, as I’ve been bouncing around a few sites, just finishing off jobs, such as finishing lines, decks and concreting. This has led to me to realise, that mentally, I find it easier to focus and learn more when I know I’m on one site for a decent length of time.

Luckily, we are starting a large 80m2 deck spanning out from the first-floor ranch sliders. It has 3m pile holes, and some long continuous beams at the front, two at 11m each. They will need to be handled with care, as they arrive finished and will be installed as is, no painting, no flashing etc. We haven’t completely figured out how we will install them yet, but we do have some good ideas.

Built to last

Before the deck starts though, on the same site we are building two 40m+ fences. Now, there is a fair bit of repetition on these, for which we are doing as much prep work as possible. One of the tasks is to cut and predrill each batten. My foreman brought what looked like a museum exhibit to work but turned out to be a fully functional drill press. He told me it was 60 years old and was his dad’s. The old Black and Decker drill worked flawlessly for days. Fair play, it’s been built to last that’s for sure.

To that point, if you look after your tools, and use the right tool for the right job, there is no reason some of them won’t last 60 years too.

Till next time, stay safe.

by Stu Foster


Best job: Laying concrete driveway
Worst job: Digging fence post holes through aggregates
Most useful hand tool: My Taurus tool belt, it fits like a glove now
Most useful power tool: Cordless tie wire gun
Apprentice tip: Keep challenging yourself, give anything a go.