Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Has Anyone Seen The Lambs?

I have been pondering the ultimate woodworking project, the building of an ARK to carry a boatload of critters.

I realize Noah and his boys accomplished this task in a little over a hundred years, but I was originally thinking that with my shop full of power tools I could knock it out in a couple of weekends. However, as I fired up a little background music (James Taylor's "Handy Man") and initiated my plan (a logical start for a Project Management Professional), I realized this exercise is more than I can take on.

In an attempt to offer pragmatic help to any other power tool-wielding Noah's out there, I am providing the following thought seeds for the compilation and analysis of possible project risks.

Let's begin.

Material is a major challenge in building a real ark. As any woodworker will tell you, we just don't have access to the wide, old growth Gopher wood like Noah had. One trip to Woodcraft will show you that the only Gopher wood available is in tiny planks with interlocking grain and far too many knots. Ask any sawyer or arborist and they will confirm that any straight and clear Gopher trees that come available are instantly swiped up by the veneer mills. So there is just no way to get enough Gopher wood to build an entire 350 cubits x 50 cubits ark. Even if you have unlimited funds to buy the S4S Gopher shorts at Woodcraft, it would take millions of Festool Dominoes just to join them together. (One final caution: on the off chance someone finds a Lumber Widow whose late husband had barns full of air dried Gopher Wood, please use a forced air ventilator during any milling or machining operations. Kids, Gopher Wood is as toxic as any species known to man; which is why Noah lived 600 years before the flood and only 350 years after emerging from the ark.)

The other great challenge in building an ark is the lack of established designs available for benchmarking. Oh sure, there are tons of old paintings of animals walking the plank two by two, but they offer very little useful information about construction. Most artists were far more interested in "making statements" by showing the lions and the lambs walking along together, when what the modern ark builder needs are views showing the internal structure. One assumes there is a lot of timber framing going on inside the hull, but there just isn't any remaining visual record to confirm that.

One final area of caution for building an ark is also the primary challenge on nearly any project, whether it be the construction of a bridge or the design of a minivan lamp/coathook module: CONTROL SCOPE CREEP. Throughout the entire project the project leader must not lose sight of the primary objectives: cost, timing, seaworthiness, and cargo capabilities. However, it is so easy for additional "Wants" to get added to the list that pretty soon the basic, animal-hauling ark looks more like a Carnival Cruise Ship. I highly doubt Noah's original arc included a climbing wall and a top deck where Mrs. Noah could lay while sunning herself and drinking Riesling provided by Isaac, her friendly bartender. Then again, who's to say that is all bad? It might be nice to include some comforts on a voyage of unknown length.

Hmmmm.... I just thought of something. If we include a Helipad, then we don't have to worry about sending doves out to find dry land. COOL!!!!! I'm back on the project!!! I'm sure we can bury the cost of a helicopter in the initial budget, and if not we just wrap it up in the first big design change. Can't you just hear the opening chords of the Magnum, P.I. theme song as I pilot my helicopter toward the helipad on my ark?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it. I'm just imagining Noah and his sons in their weekly preferred gopher wood supplier collaboration meetings and trying to explain that it is in fact a life and death matter of hitting that deadline.