Starting projects easy, but finishing them...

Randy Blaser
Chicago Tribune

I guess it is about time I admit something.

I have a problem finishing projects.

Right now in my house I have successfully dismantled my lawnmower and the downstairs powder room toilet.

I’ve purchased a combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and have taken it out of the box. It is ready to replace the old smoke alarm, an alarm that is probably as old as the house. It would be nice to have a new one. But where’s that ladder?

Then there’s the new towel bar I’ve been meaning to put up in the master bathroom. I’ve got a beautiful piece of mahogany all cut for it. It’s all measured out. I’ve just got to drill the holes, sand it, stain it, varnish it and hang it up. But where are those dang drill bits?

I’m beginning to feel a bit like Mark Twain, who once said about giving up cigars that quitting smoking is easy. He’s done it hundreds of times.

Starting a new project is easy. I’ve done it thousands of times. The problem seems to be finishing it.

Do you have this problem at home? Do you start numerous projects, only to leave them scattered about the house in various states of near completion? If you do, why is it?

I’ve thought about why this is for a long time, figuring that if I could determine why I’m not finishing projects, it would be a big step toward finishing them. Here’s what I came up with:

One of the main reasons I don’t finish some of these home projects is I really don’t know what I’m doing. That’s the main reason why the lawn mower is still apart in the garage. I knew I didn’t know what I was doing when I started taking it apart, but I figured I would learn on the way.

That worked for a while until I reached a point where I couldn’t get a flywheel off. I asked my friends at the shop and they gave me a few ideas. And I checked out YouTube, which is a boon for us folks who don’t know what we’re really doing, and got a few more ideas.

It finally came down to the fact that I didn’t have the right tools.

Owning the right tool for the job seems to be another reason why I can’t get things done. For example, just when I start sawing that big branch off the tree in the front yard, I realize I need a chain saw. Or right when I start scrubbing the deck the old-fashioned way with a stiff brush and old-fashioned elbow grease, I realize that I need a power washer.

It seems having the right tool is the issue with the toilet in the first-floor powder room because I just can’t get this one bolt to move.

But even then, the right tool doesn’t always help. Sure, cleaning the deck with a power washer made sense. But how do you get the dang power washer to work? What did my sister, owner of the power washer, do with the instructions for this thing.

That brings me to the deck. No amount of power washing will change the fact that the boards are rotting away. Should I replace the bad ones? Do I have the right tools to do so? How about if I just tear the whole thing down and put in a really nice patio?

I could buy the stone pavers a pallet at a time this winter and store them in the garage until spring. And how hard could it be to dig out the base for the patio by hand. That shouldn’t take too long, right? Do I need any special tools to level the ground or stamp down those pavers nice and secure?

I supposed I could just burn the whole place down. What a finish that would be.