I am a collector, you see.
In the post-WebMD/Dr. Oz/Dr. Phil world we inhabit, it has become all too common for the lay person to scour the internet, frenetically hunting down tenuous threads of commonality in symptoms or behaviors and performing often erroneous feats of self-diagnosis. Armed with a bare minimum of information, we bandy about terms that were once the purview of seasoned professionals; somehow thinking that we have discovered ourselves in the act of prognosis.
Perhaps it is a desire to set ourselves apart from the common rabble that drives us to this urge to over-classify our behaviors. Perhaps we seek absolution for our imperfections by having terms with which we can shield ourselves from the judgment and criticisms of society. Perhaps it is our society, itself, that has created in us a sickness that is the desire to be ill.
It is the unfettered access to this professional cant, the jargon of the specifically learned, that breeds misuse of terms such as “hoarder” or “OCD”. The dark side of universally available information, without benefit of knowledge, that leads us to casually appropriate diagnoses that we seldom bother to validate.
The medical definition of a hoarder makes clear distinctions between the behavior exhibited by one with a psychological impulse to hoard and one with predilection for collecting things. Hoarders are embarrassed; shameful; secretive. Collectors are proud, demonstrative and boastful. One of many accusations levied at my character is that I am a hoarder.
Am I a hoarder? Nay. I am a collector.
Were I a hoarder, I would certainly not be sharing this post with the world at large. That being said, my better half and I have often come to disagreement over just how I should display my collections. None more so than my collection of DVDs.
The consumer market is not really geared towards affordable storage options for DVD collections that exceed a certain threshold. Perhaps there is a Surgeon General warning of which I am unaware; one that defines the number of DVDs a healthy person should own – and this definition guides the production of adequately-sized storage options. Suffice it to say, my collection exceeded nearly everything available at a reasonable price.
As a compromise, we agreed that I could purchase a very large DVD shelf to house all of my collection, with the caveat that it was too ugly to keep in an area where guests could see. And so, for many moons, my collection was relegated to the corner of the kids’ room. Sad in its exile.
Until one day, when I was struck with the idea of upgrading the unit to match our recently-completed IKEA-hack bookshelves.
I started with a rather unattractive, metal tube/wire style shelving unit. In all honesty, I don’t fault my other half for disliking this. It looks cheaper than it was, which is never a good sign.
My first step was to break the unit down and paint it the same color as the IKEA shelves I wanted to match. This actually turned out to be a bigger problem than I would have thought, because the metal really should have been primed first, but I didn’t want the primer to show through the “hammered” effect of the top coat and change the appearance. So, there were some spots of chipping that I would have preferred not happen.
Once the paint job was complete, I cut some white pine 1″x 6″ boards to length. To notch out for leg poles, I used a 1″ hole saw bit for my drill. The notch needed to be set back a little bit deeper, so that the shelf had a slight lip, so I drilled the pilot hole and then finished the notching with a crosscut hand saw.
After cutting to size and shape, the shelves were stained the same color as the IKEA shelves, and then rubbed with a few coats of teak oil, to give them a satin shine and smooth finish.
It was at this point that I realized I had made a miscalculation. The boards fit perfectly within wire shelves. At first this might not seem like a problem. It certainly didn’t seem like a problem for me. Until I started to put DVDs on the shelves and realized just how important that wire along the back of the shelf had been in preventing DVDs from falling off.
I admit that this threw me for a bit of a loop and I scratched my head over it for several days. My initial thought was to buy strips of 1″x 2″ and attach them to the back of each shelf, but it didn’t look great and the cost was a little more than I wanted to bear for something that didn’t look great.
So, as I wandered around Home Depot, lost in the trance that comes from attempting to create a solution out of the surrounding randomalia, I found my salvation: lath. Cheap. Stainable. Perfectly sized. I grabbed a bundle and made a break for the cashier.
Salvation in hand, I set about sanding and staining the lath. This did turn out to be a little obnoxious, because lath is not a finished product. The wood was still a little green and sappy, so I had to sand it and then let it dry by the heater for a few days before I could stain it.
I cut the lath pieces down so that I had one piece per shelf that ran the entire length of the shelf and one piece per shelf that was about 3/4 of the length. These were attached to either side of the wire backing of the original shelf (long side on the front of the wire, short side on the back) with nuts and bolts. Thus creating a new heel upon which the DVDs could rest and not fall off the back of the shelf.
These days, the DVD collection has joined us out in the living area. Proud and beautiful, it perfectly complements our other shelving and gives me great pleasure in showcasing my awful collection of escapist delights.