December 23, 2004
Decatur County-- Many people want more storage space, but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it. They don't have to if they have the creativity of a Decatur County man who built a large woodworking shop for almost nothing by using old, aluminum irrigation pipe he hasn't used in 20 years.
Some people do great things not in some foreign land, but on their own land, in their own backyards, doing what many people might call impossible. "They look like a log. They are straight," says Norman Sawyer, a creative builder when he saw a trailer load of his old irrigation pipe. Mr. Sawyer used it 30 years to water his corn, peanuts and cotton. Then, modern technology caught up with him and he had no more use for the pipe.
Less labor intensive systems became the norm, making his pipe obsolete. The pipe laid there for 20 years on a trailer with flat tires, "I guess I'm an old pack rat," says Mr. Sawyer when he had an idea of using them to build a woodworking shop.
Some family members laughed at the idea. "Made up my mind to give them a shot," says Mr. Sawyer proudly. How could he transform the old pipe into some sort of building material? His plan included taking the 125 pieces and building his creative masterpiece, "It can be done," says Mr. Sawyer confidently.
He could make it look like a log cabin, with white plastic pipe to fill between the irrigation pipes. "PVC pipe to chink the pipes with," says Mr. Sawyer about another one of his creative ideas. He even used the aluminum pipe for a roof.
"Turn one down and one up. No way it can leak," says Mr. Sawyer, and he knows. Storms with high winds and rain battered his creation this summer and it say securely fastened. No leaks either. Many people thought there was no way he could build the workshop alone, but he did, except for a little help to place the roof supports. "It exceeded my expectations," says Mr. Sawyer.
How does he do what many people his age could only think about doing? "Keep your mind going," says Mr. Sawyer as he pushes a circular saw with carbide tipped teeth down one side of a pipe sitting securely in a special holder he made.
His mind runs like a buzz saw all the time, thinking about how to solve problems. "I don't think I've lost much mentally," says Mr. Sawyer. It doesn't look like he has or will. "I think my mental age is as good as it was back when I was 30," says Mr. Sawyer. Physically, he is 81 years young, and he doesn't think lie it or look like it. "This is probably the last project I will do," says Mr. Sawyer with a laugh. Don't bet on it. "Who knows, though. There might be something else come up," says Mr. Sawyer. Probably so.
And besides, it's hard to keep an alert, creative mind down. One of Mr. Sawyer's secrets involves taking about a 20-minute power nap each day to recharge his industrious batteries.
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