Furniture Building

Behind-the-Scenes Drama of Hauling Lumber

When I showed you how I built my Massive Sewing Table, I left out a bit of the behind-the-scenes drama.  Specifically, the part where I had to haul that 8′ x 4′ sheet of thick plywood home in my little Passat.

Or, I should say, on my little Passat.

So the Waggin’ Wagon isn’t little, because it is a Passat station wagon, but . . . well, just read on, please.

Cutting Plywood for Sewing Table |

This is a really big piece of lumber.

On that fateful Sunday in February I drove to Home Depot and picked out a piece of plywood. I knew I wanted to stain the table a rich wood tone, not paint it, so I chose a higher grade sheet of lumber – a 1″ thick plywood with birch veneer.  (When wood veneer is applied to a sheet of plywood it allows you to stain the surface and show off the wood grain so that it looks like a solid wood piece.)

I thought to myself:  “So the sheet of plywood is 8 ft x 4 ft.  That’s no problem, I can totally fit that in the back of my Waggin’ Wagon.”


What was I thinking? I pulled my car around to load it, popped the seats down, and then realized a few things:

  1. The Waggin’ is most definitely NOT 8 feet long.
  2. The Waggin’ is most definitely NOT 4 feet wide at the trunk opening.
  3. A full sheet of plywood is a hell of a lot larger than I realized.

I was stubborn and determined to get this damn table built, so I informed the Home Depot man “We’ll just tie it to the roof.” 

He looked at me dubiously – oh, how clear it was that he thought I was crazy – but then helped me hoist it up there.  I proceeded to cut loads of twine (thankful for the mini switchblade on my keychain) and I secured it to the ski rails on the roof of the Waggin’.

Here’s the key to tying large items (plywood, mattresses) to your car:

First, tie a frame around the plywood, from front to back, then around the sides.  Basically, do it like you’re tying ribbon around a present.  Then, tie around the plywood from side to side, running the rope under the roof and through the door openings so that when I close the doors there will be a little extra security on the ropes.  Then I tie ropes to the “frame” ropes, and pull the rope around the FRONT of the item, under it, and tie it at the back of the car.  I often see people driving with a mattress or large Ikea box on the car, but there is no rope around it from front to back – only side to side – and that freaks me out.

So I got my board secured (using that term loosely here) on the roof, popped the molding in the car, and slowly rolled out of the parking lot.

Fortunately the Home Depot is about 3 miles from my house, and I only had to take neighborhood streets to get there.  I would NOT have felt comfortable going down a major road or highway with the crazy heavy sheet of plywood strapped to the roof of the Waggin’.

As I rolled along with my hazards on, at a moderate and safe pace of approximately 20 MPH, I kept my left hand out the window, holding onto the plywood.  It took all my strength to hold onto it, but I felt the need to hold it because – despite my best attempts at tying it tight and secure –  it bucked and swung whenever I turned a corner or when the air tried to lift it up.

And so, it was in that position, me driving down the street with one arm out the window, gripping my precious plywood, that Ryan spotted me.  I was rolling sloooowly down our street as he walked to the front of the yard.  A look of horror came over his face, and I was very confused.  I pulled into the driveway, parked, and jumped out to see what was wrong. Did I have a dead cat stuck to my front bumper?  Was there a small child accidentally strapped to the roof?

As it turns out, Ryan was horrified because when he first saw me rolling along, he thought that I was driving home with ONLY MY HAND HOLDING THE BOARD ON THE ROOF.  I.e., he didn’t see the white twine against the pale wood, so he thought it wasn’t tied on.

Really, Ryan?

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  • Reply Ashley @ this girl is anratliff at 8:29 pm

    Don’t have much to say about hauling lumber (besides your extremely brave) but I adore the new layout!

  • Reply Skooks at 10:15 pm

    There was a Jerry Seinfeld bit about just this thing . . .

  • Reply Brenda K at 2:42 pm

    Sounds like the sort of thing I would do 😉

  • Reply JE Melton at 5:40 pm

    Just found you through Making This Home and am ‘catching up’ on your blog.
    I literally laughed until tears came to my eyes reading this post. I used to have a chrysler sebring convertible, which we lovingly called the ‘family pickup’. Reading your post brought to mind a harrowing drive home from my local Lowes (less than two miles, but mostly on a street people drive 50mph on) with a half sheet of plywood stuck in the back seat. I spent the whole trip with a foot on the brake and a hand twisted behind me holding on to the wood for dear life!

    • Reply Jane at 10:38 pm

      Oh my gosh, that is absolutely hilarious. I can totally picture it. . . I’ll have to tell Ryan “see, it could be worse!” It makes sense though that the convertible could be useful that way… I wonder if that could help me make the argument that my next car should be one? 🙂 Thanks for saying hi!

  • Reply krakatoa at 12:09 pm

    Invest in some ratchet straps. You can lash anything to the top of a wagon with them.
    And look even crazier than just a sheet of plywood.

  • Reply Jamie Huybers at 4:32 pm

    Too creepy! I did the same exact thing this weekend. I wanted to paint two 4×4 barn quilts so OBVIOUSLY I needed the 4×8 piece of plywood. I was totally convinced I could fit it into my 2013 Ford Fusion. Yeahhhh…no. Apparently my trunk opening is like 3.5 ft wide. Definitely have them cut it at the store. I had to walk of shame my hiney back in there 3 times to have it cut down until it finally fit in my car!

    • Reply Jane at 8:58 am

      Jamie, that is hilarious. I feel your pain 🙂 At least we’re optimistic starting out, right?

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