February 17, 2007

If I only had a hammer!

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by dgcombs

Some time in the last five or ten years, Linda upgraded the steps leading to our deck in the back yard. She used two-by-fours as the most convenient and available source. Steps really aren’t supposed to be made from two-by-fours. Especially ones that aren’t pressure treated. Fortunately, however, they’ve lasted a really long time, until recently.Demian and Katie were on the deck having a brother-sister conversation when Demian, being the big guy he is now, realized the safety hazard in the making on step number two. So he bounced on it. And jumped on it. And bounced some more until… it broke. He came in and told Linda and me that it was broken. But now it was safer since it was obviously broken and not just about to break.A few days later, I found a piece of a pressure treated two-by-four that looked just the right size. I had to saw off about three inches, but it was still very close. I cleared it with Linda and got to work. I grabbed a hammer. I got some nails, just in case. Then I tore off the old, “”safer”” step. Now I had a problem. How do you nail through pressure treated lumber? Well, I took out the old nails and straightened them. No sense in wasting perfectly good nails. Then I tried to hammer them through the wood. Each of the four did something different. One flew off the deck to the left. One bend into the nicest shaped “”L”” I’d ever seen. One went about two inches into the wood and stopped. Then it bent over into an “”L”” shape. The fourth one just vanished. I’m sure it was terrified about what I’d done to the other nails.So I lumbered down the steps to the basement and brought up a drill. If I drill through the wood, the nails will go in. So I drilled a small pilot hole. I used a brand new nail. What I hadn’t noticed was that the drill bit slipped up into the chuck and so the hole was only about an inch and a half deep. Not nearly deep enough to drive a nail all the way through. Not only that, but the hole was too small. So the nail got stuck just like the other one. Now I had two nails stuck in that piece of wood.Ok, next plan. Screws! I went back into the basement. I got a bigger drill bit. I found four likely screws. and came back up stairs and drilled a test hole. Sigh. I went BACK down into the basement. I got a Phillips head screwdriver and came back upstairs. This. Thing. Sure. Is. Tight. So I went BACK down in the basement and found a Phillips head screwdriver bit for the drill. It’s a good thing the drill was multi-speed, or I would have had to go find one of those too. But the first screw I tried it on stripped out the head. Clearly the screwdriver bit was too small. So I went BACK down in the basement and found another screwdriver bit that was a bit more manly.I drilled one hole on the other side. All the way through the board. And then I put in the screw. It worked! Finally! OK, three to go. So I got ready to dril another hole on the left. But first I had to pull out the nail that was in the way. I grabbed the hammer and started to yank when the handle of the hammer broke.I decided I’d had enough fun for one day. It was time to make dinner. And we didn’t really need that step anyway!I told Linda what had happened. She eyed me as if she was trying to decide whether I was upset or not. Then she said, “”don’t throw away the hammer head.””Two days later Tyler proudly showed me his newly built hammer. Linda had replaced the handle. He had a piece of 1×4 on the deck and was showing me how well he could hammer nails into it. I asked him to pick up the board. He struggled for a minute and said, “”It’s stuck!”” So I showed him how to use the claw side to pull the board off the deck. He hammered another nail in (for practice) and pulled the board off (for practice). He decided that was enough work for one day.Oh the step? Well, since I had a new hammer to work with, that stubborn nail came out clean. I quickly put a screw into the board. It went through it but not all the way down. As I stood there looking at the newly repaired step with a screw all the way down on one side and about half way down on the other, I realized that Linda wanted to demolish the deck during the upcoming summer and rebuild it. So I used the non-claw side of the hammer to remove the pesky inch and a half of the screw that was still sticking up. It came off slick as a whistle. The step is solid and much safer. And Tyler has a new hammer.

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