Sunday, July 12, 2015

Deadbolts vs. The Incredible Hulk

You've heard me say it a few times before. I'm not handy. To some people, a hammer and drill in their hand is perfection. It gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Those same things give me a sense of dread, and defeat. And while I continue to admit my non-handiness, I always seem to finish my projects and, ultimately, there is a small sense of accomplishment that comes along with each.

My latest project involved putting two deadbolts into an upstairs door that leads out to a flat roof over our kitchen. Our insurance company said either bar the door with deadbolts or put up a very expensive railing. Dead bolts it is. What followed was a total of about four hours of sweat, sawdust and colorful language. It was not my finest hour...or four hours, actually. Here's how it went.


I brought up my tool tray and drill from the basement. I figured that would about cover it. I opened the directions and set to work. After deliberating over whether my latch was a 60mm or 70mm deal, I moved on to the first step, which had me marking the drill holes with a provided template. Once those were marked, I was ready to drill.

Oops, I'll need an extension cord. Back down the basement to get one.

I plug in the drill and realize that my drill bits are in the basement. Back down I go.

After a short hunt for the drill chuck key thingy in my poorly organized tool tray, I put in the 1/8 inch bit and drill my pilot holes.

The instructions then call for drilling a 2 1/8 inch hole in my door. This requires a hole saw. Guess where that is? Yep, in the basement.

The instructions tell me to drill 1/2 way through the door and then come at it from the other side. In a perfect world, the two holes would intersect and the wooden piece would pop out. Unfortunately I live in a fallen world - at least from a home improvement standpoint - and my hole takes a bit of what I like to refer to as Carpenteric-Improvisation. This means wiggling the hole saw while it drills until eventually the two pieces pop out. It was almost perfect. Luckily the inside of this hole is a place no one will ever see. I suspect there's a fair amount of this kind of thing behind the walls of every home.

Once that hole is drilled I'm told to mark the faceplate location for the deadbolt by pushing a 2" nail through the pilot hole I'd drilled earlier.

Where are my nails? Oh yeah, in the basement. This time on the way back through, I grabbed a beer. Donna knew this was a bad sign and warned me "Beer and power tools don't mix." This warning fell on deaf ears because well, I needed an attitude adjustment. If you want the project done, you'll grant me this beer and however many more it might take. (It only took one).

When that is done, I'm told to chisel out a spot for the faceplate. With regards to this tool called a chisel, I have a bone to pick with toolmakers and lock manufacturers alike in the twenty first century.

Why, when we can Skype with someone in the remote regions of Polynesia are we relegated to using a hand tool as crude as a chisel to put a lock in a door? This thing is right out of the bronze age for crying out loud.

Needless to say, this is where the colorful language started to surface. As I elocuted my litany of what I shall call "creative release" I was reduced to a stone tool making Cro-Magnon man condition, chipping away with hammer and chisel at my door and door frame. Of course I wasn't wearing safety goggles. At this point safety was NOT first and you need to get over that. Chiseling the heck out of my door was first. During the process there was the occasional inadvertent badly splintered piece that shall remain unseen by most and and even a finger whack or two.

As I pounded and chipped and chiseled and pounded and crafted and chipped, and honed, I thought about Michelangelo and his statue of David. He was clearly a demented sadist. Of course marble was more pliable than the wood in my nearly 100 year old house, so there's that.


At times during my pounding and chiseling and drilling I was overcome with a rage so intense that I wanted to hurl my drill/hammer/chisel. It was not a healthy state. Standing amidst the sawdust and tools sprinkled about like someone shook my tool tray upside down, in full rage, I thought who is this man? I'm usually so even keel. What happened to nice, quiet Jim?

And so instead of hurling tools, I hurled language. There is a reason no one was allowed to "help" me with this project. I was channelling my inner Incredible Hulk and no one needed to see that.

When the holes were all drilled and the chiseling had all been chiseled, it was time to assemble the hardware. Understand that there are 3 screws that need to be aligned to successfully pull one side of the lock to the other. These 3 screws require a superpower that has not been discovered yet. I futzed and finagled and farted around with these things for half an hour. When I finally thought I had it together, I turned the key and the stupid deadbolt did not move.

More rage.

Unscrew, try to re-align. Give up, call daughter Sarah for help. Watch her frustration grow for ten minutes before we finally get it together.

It occurred to me that sometimes these jobs require a woman's touch.

Or maybe a change in perspective.

Or maybe just someone less ragey.

In any case when the deadbolt slid into the hole I fist bumped Sarah and thought I was almost there. This of course was a short lived joy. When I mounted the faceplate on the door, with two screws, the deadbolt no longer slid into the hole. With a couple more adjustments and a couple swigs of beer and a couple of creative releases, it was just like you see on HGTV.

And then, this entire process was repeated today when I did the second one. Trust me when I say it was equally as joyous. It also involved an encounter with a stubborn nail that almost did me in. I'm telling you man, I almost needed therapy by the end of it. I'm convinced this is why God invented beer.

Like all of my projects, this was a great reminder of why I will never "enjoy" working with my hands. I have the soft hands of a writer. I am a great typist. I can write 1000 words with the best of them. And when the day is done, I can do home improvement projects and finish them and make them look decent.

But that doesn't mean I have to like them.

For more of my not handy handiness, visit this old blog post.

Blogging off...

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