Sunday, July 20, 2008

How to Carry Lumber In Your Car

(Cue official-sounding theme music with ticker-tape piano melody and an aggressive horn section) A Springy Goddess special report!

So let's say that you want to build something -- For instance, a gazebo for your dark legion of cats -- But you really don't want to spend $50 to have the requisite lumber delivered.

Well, unless you only live a quarter of a mile from the lumber yard, you probably don't want to walk the lumber home. That said, I have done exactly that -- Hauled 2x4's in a grocery cart, or carried a single piece of wood on My shoulder for untold blocks. Not My idea of a good time, though, especially not on a hot or rainy summer afternoon. For the purpose of this essay, I'm also assuming that your buddy with the 3/4 ton pickup truck has gone to the lake for the weekend, and that you must bring home a long, long board in a fairly short car with a fold-down back seat. A Cavalier, for example.

First things first: You'll need the usual lumber yard packing stuff such as nylon rope, shrink wrap, tape and red hazard flags, but you will also benefit greatly from:
  • One or two cheap tarpaulins, for protecting the trunk and also for stuffing between the lumber and the dashboard.

  • A sturdy cardboard box, an old pillow, or a thick chunk of styrofoam. This goes on the armrest between the front seats, elevating the lumber so that you can still reach the shift lever.

It's desirable to do this project solo, because in addition to dropping the rear bench backrest you'll also have to move the passenger seat all the way forward and then tilt the front passenger-side backrest all the way back. This also frees up the passenger-side seatbelt, which in the above photo is keeping the pile of lumber away from the driver's side of the vehicle.

Over the years, Red and I have determined that 10' lumber is the longest that will actually fit inside a Cavalier. 8' pieces are even more manageable; in fact, I brought home six of them this very afternoon. Essentially, I just opened the trunk, loaded them in, shut the trunk lid, and drove home:

Yesterday, however, I purchased five, count 'em, five pieces of 2x4x12' construction spruce.

To bring home twelve-footers, I load them in through the trunk and slide them as far forward as they can go... Right up the center of the car and onto the armrest, where they are duly elevated several inches by a chunk of foam and an old cardboard box. Again shown is a bunched-up tarpaulin, which keeps the radio and the air conditioner from developing a bad case of scratches and splinters.

I still have to deal with the back ends, however. To protect the trunk lid from damage, what's needed is another chunk of styrofoam or another soft, thick material. The wood itself has been wrapped in an open-ended plastic bag, and the foam has also been placed inside the bag. Nylon twine is wrapped around the wood and plastic, in front of and behind the foam, which keeps the foam block in position till I get home.

Oh, and don't forget to take your car out for coffee afterwards.

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