Accidents Happen

Even the most careful folks are bound to run into the law of averages eventually. No one ever plans to have an accident – they just have one. I’ve had a few of them myself.

In the early days at Better Barns, we weren’t very sophisticated. Our scaffold was two ladders with a 2×12 between them. It did make working on the roof a little more interesting!

Well, I was up on the scaffold installing the decking when I felt the ladder begin to tilt. I had been pushing on that sheet of OSB trying to line it up and had pushed the scaffold backward in the process. I did what any other sane shed builder (are there any of those?) would do in the same situation. I tossed my nail gun to one side and jumped to the ground!

Maybe I should tell you here that I was still recovering from one of the worst accidents of my whole life. Just about a week prior to the scaffold incident, as I was ascending a ladder, I lost my balance. My hands were full and in one hand was a nail gun. As I scrambled to regain my footing, I jammed the gun’s safety into my right knee – with my finger on the trigger. The ring-shanked nail sank up in my knee until the head just barely showed. After a few minutes, with prayers, Vance pulled the now crooked nail out of my knee with a pair of pliers.

Now back to the scaffold story. The nail in my knee was a very fresh memory and I did not want to repeat the episode. So, when I felt the scaffold going over my first thought was to get rid of the gun. I tossed it to the side and jumped on down. The landing wasn’t quite as graceful as I would have liked partly due to my recent knee injury.

Vance came running around the building to see what had happened. Did you expect that his first words would be something like “Are you okay?”, or “Let me help you up.”? You would be mightily disappointed! He said – and I quote, “WHY DID YOU THROW THE GUN?” I’m not sure what I answered him, but it probably was a nice, friendly, meek answer. Of course.

I recovered from the scaffold incident quite quickly and moved right along with my shed building career. After having shot myself in the knee and then crash landed off of a scaffold within the space of seven days, I felt like surely I deserved to go a while without incident.

It would be quite some time before I ran into another serious mishap. Working by myself one afternoon, I encountered my next major accident. I was working along, minding my own business and framing a wall. The gun and I were working splendidly together. I was popping! Suddenly, the wall plate split when my nail hit it and the nail went right on through. Luckily for the nail my hand was on the other side to catch it and keep it from getting hurt.

That nail went in one side and protruded out the other. I stopped and took a look at it. I decided life would be better with it out, and so I yanked it out. I applied a band aid on both the entry and exit holes and went back to work.

Not long afterward I shot myself for the third (and hopefully final) time. I was nailing a block to a post in a doubled over position. The block split and sent that framing nail into my right knee. As a side note, I have also blown out my ACL on my right knee twice. It is going to wear out long before the rest of my body. This nail didn’t sink in all the way and was actually easy to extract.
One more accident seems worthy of mention before I go. Another scaffold incident it was. This time I was up on an actual scaffold jack with an actual steel plank. Our scaffold jacks are adjustable, and normally the little button pops into a hole to hold the adjustment. Well, this day the button must not have been popped all the way into the hole because right when I raised the sheet of OSB decking and bumped the scaffold plank I found myself standing flat on the floor. That plank got jerked out from under me like a magician jerks a table cloth! I didn’t have time to panic. In fact, I was in the exact same position on the ground as I had been on the scaffold.

The best part of that episode was the priceless expression on Billy’s face. He was standing just a few feet away building a set of doors when that sheet of OSB came flying toward him. If I had a picture of his face from that moment, it would be better than this whole article and everything else I’ve ever written!

Accidents happen. Sometimes they are serious and have dire consequences. However, many of them can be somewhat entertaining after they’re over. I hope these have given you a few moments of enjoyment as you live the life of a shed builder.