Sunday, March 13, 2005

New Tools

The one nice thing about a “honey do” list is that occasionally the new tasks require a trip to Home Depot for some new tools.

In the spirit of Tim, the Tool-Man, Taylor I always look at a new job to do at home with the excitement that I may get to purchase a new device to make the job go smoother.

During Halloween this year we had setup some fancy decorations on our front porch, and a 2x4 I had screwed into the side of the house had a stripped head on the screw so I could not remove it easily. So off I went to Home Depot and came home with a manual impact wrench (the type you bang on and it turns the screw while the banging of the hammer applies enough downward pressure to get a bite on the stripped head if it’s not too bad off). Of course I had to also purchase a saber saw just in case the impact wrench didn’t do the trick.

Luckily the impact wrench got the job done, but I now had a new Black & Decker saber saw that I could have on standby in case a job called for its use.

Now some folks scoff at the Black & Decker brand, but I have found that over the years for working around the house they have some great tools at decent prices. Sure there are heavier duty tools, but for my need Black & Decker fills the need nicely. We have Black & Decker drills, the saber saw, can opener, carving knife, edger, trimmer, and the list goes on. We didn’t get these all at once, but through the years there have been a lot of “honey do” lists.

This weekend it was time to start work on a dog run for our newly acquired puppies. We are the proud owners of a new West Highland Terrier and a Scottish Terrier. I don’t know what I was thinking getting two terriers after our last pig-headed mutt, but they sure are cute and we figure they’re tough enough to give back to the kids as good as they get.

The people who owned the house before us had built a shed and a little deck for a hot tub. The problem was they are both built up off the ground about six inches for the shed, and around a foot for the hot tub deck. Ordinarily not a big deal, unless you have two little puppies and that’s the side of the house where the new dog run is going to be built.

There was some latticework on the deck, but it was rotting from not only being somewhat covered by the dirt, but also because, well, it’s wood, and that’s what wood tends to do.

Since the puppies will be like little beavers for a while, I decided to buy some of the new fangled plastic type of lattice to replace the rotted wood. Since terriers are notorious diggers, I also opted to bury the lattice about a foot under ground so they would have to make a pretty good effort to get through it from the bottom. I’m still not sure how well it will hold up to their chewing, but we’ll see if a thin coating of pepper will place that on hold if it gets too bad.

The cool part about having the right tools for the right jobs is that it makes the job easier and safer. To support the lattice while I was working on it I bought some new folding steel sawhorses which are ten times better then these new black and yellow plastic pieces of garbage I bought last year. The problem with the plastic ones is that the little yellow pivoting tops tend to break off. After taking them back several times to have them replaced I finally gave up and now just have two broken top plastic sawhorses.

Now normally I would have had to cut the lattice with my circular saw, but I have used that dang saw for too many scary things that it really should not be used for, and I was glad that I now had my new saber saw that I had bought for the Halloween 2x4 incident of 2004.

The saber saw was the perfect tool for zipping through the lattice while maintaining some control of the 4’x8’ flopping plastic lattice. I had to place a few 2x4’s on the saw horses and then rest the lattice on those to help stabilize the sheet, and it worked great.

I’m under the impression that my house must have been built on a gravel pit, because digging the foot deep trench to bury the bottom of the lattice was a nightmare. Luckily, I also bought a spanking new plastic handled pick for the task, because I could not find my old wood-handled one that about kills me every time I use it. I remember one time the head slid down during an overhead swing and about broke my fingers!

So here I sit, just before dinner, typing in this tale of my tools and the beginnings of the dog run project under way. My hands and wrists are sore from the pick, my knuckles are scraped from clearing the rocks out of the narrow trench and I am just worn out adding this ditch digging into the day of watching the kids and the new puppies.

The latticework turned out looking nice, but I still have a few more sections to finish. My new tools and me made it through yet another task from the “honey do” list, and I still have the use of all of my body parts, even though they are a tad sore.

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