Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Power Tools

A few years ago, my husband gave me a chainsaw for my birthday. I was thrilled. Truthfully. I really was thrilled. I love power tools. Electric drills, table saws, grinders, even sanders. My greatest regret in changing my college major from engineering to sports medicine is that I did it the semester before we got to learn how to weld.

Unfortunately, my husband has learned that you can give a woman a chain saw, but you can’t make her sharpen it. Or tighten the chain. Which is why, after an hour of whacking down dead tree limbs last Saturday, the chain came off my favorite saw.

I guess I should have done something when I noticed it was sagging. Instead, I did what I always do when I experience a power tool malfunction. I kept going as long as it would go. When it did quit, I sort of tucked the chain back into place, then I put the saw back on the shelf for my husband to fix the next time he needed to use it. Hmm. Maybe that explains why it always takes him so darn long to get started on home improvements around here. And why he's always so dang grouchy about it.

The improvement part of home improvement definitely isn’t my thing. I prefer demolition. Twice in our marriage my husband has had reason to use the phrase, “Honey, where did the wall go?” The other time it was the deck that went missing. I don’t know why he got so excited. Who needs a deck in South Dakota, where sprawling out in a lounge chair is the equivalent of ringing the mosquito dinner bell?

To do demolition right, you have to break out the serious equipment. Tractors and bulldozers and backhoes are just extra large power tools. I’d love to test drive one of those monster cranes with the wrecking ball on the end. Which is probably why my husband speeds up as we pass construction sites.

Honey, where did the barn go?

Even a wrecking ball couldn’t match the power tool nirvana my husband encountered when he was fresh out of high school, employed by a construction company that was building a railroad bed across one of the more desolate stretches of eastern Wyoming. We’re talking the ultimate in demolition. The big Kahuna.

Dynamite.

Keep in mind that this was a while back, before *OSHA became the only four letter word guaranteed to get your butt kicked on a construction site. Pre-Homeland Security, too. When no one thought twice about handing an eighteen year old a plunger connected to a series of blasting caps and saying, “Go ahead, give it a shove.” Of course, there was no certified demolitions expert on the crew. Do you know how much you have to pay those people?

When the bulldozers encountered an outcropping of rock, everyone would gather round, scratch their chins, and guestimate how many sticks of TNT it would take to bust ‘er loose. They’d drill a few holes in what they figured were strategic locations, hook up some fuses, place their charges, and string out the detonator wire to a safe distance. The process took some time, during which graders and trucks and loaders rumbled back and forth. Invariably, someone would drive a bulldozer over the wire and the steel tracks would cut right through. One of the crew would hustle out and splice it back together. After a while, the detonator wire began to look like a knotted, frayed shoestring. It also got shorter.

The day came when the heavy equipment encountered an especially stubborn layer of rock. The first blast barely made a dent. More holes were drilled, and a larger payload inserted. The crew backed away, to the end of the detonator wire, which reached right to the front of the nearest pick-up. The countdown commenced.

Four… three…two…one… Kabloom!

Huge chunks of rock sprayed into the air. Arced in glorious slow motion through the blue Wyoming sky. And began to descend. Which was when they realized that they had overestimated the amount of dynamite needed. And spliced that wire a few too many times.

When the dust finally cleared, they crawled out from under the pick-up. The whole crew stood around, contemplating the smashed windshield and the newly acquired, five hundred pound granite hood ornament. Finally, someone said, “I suppose we’ll have to tell the boss about this.”

I guess it was kinda big to park on a shelf somewhere and hope they weren’t around the next time he needed it.

  *Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as the guys who stop by and hand out fines.

14 comments:

Tiffany Schmidt said...

LOL! You're braver than I am - all power tools are off-limits for me. (With good reason - I'm an accident-magnet) Husband has requested I stay away from the lawn mower and weed wacker too (I'm not going to complain).

But that putting it back broken thing... you and St.Matt are alike in that way. He doesn't return things broken, but he's convinced that if he returns an empty milk carton to the fridge, the dairy fairies will fill it over night!

Anita said...

If you've got some spare time, I've got a couple things in Colorado that need destroying.

Indigo said...

My fascination for power tools started when I was pregnant with my daughter. My ex thought nothing of coming home to see me in the bathroom 8 months along, huge stomache sticking out and the power saw cutting molding strips to finish the bathroom I had been working on. Dangerous as all get out, the bathroom was a very narrow space. I did dent the tub with the saw (frowns).

To this day my daughter is just as handy as I am taking care of the house. It's a good thing...her husband is serving in Iraq. (Hugs)Indigo

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Indigo: When my sister's husband was due to be deployed to Iraq, she had to learn to do a lot of things he usually took care of. One day my mom found her, nearly in tears, with a pair of needle nose pliers pulling ticks off the dog, because he wasn't going to be there to do it.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Tiffany: Boy, I'd hate if they wouldn't let me do yard work.

Alina said...

That is hilarious.

My husband and I have a new rule: as long as it costs no money we don't have to discuss our ideas before implementing them. Knocking down walls doesn't cost a dime, right? ;)

And as someone who has already blown one garden tractor to Kingdom Come (the sound of exploding tires DOES sound like a rifle blast in case you were wondering) and who just got a new one(used, $100, 40-years-old from Cragslist--and sa-weet) for Mother's day, and has just destroyed her 3rd pair of loppers in as many months(hey, it's cheaper than hiring a tree trimmer) I can relate to your interest in destruction.

That's it, I need a chain saw!

Anonymous said...

She couldn't quite reach some of the higher limbs on the trees so I drove the 4-wheeler under so she could stand on it. That sounds safe, don't you agree?
Her Mother

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Alina: EXACTLY! Demolition is free. Not to mention therapeutic. It's putting stuff up that costs money.

Crystal Posey said...

A few weeks ago, I hung an eraser board using a power drill for the first time. Woo!

Merc said...

That is hilarious! *is still cracking up*

When I was younger friends and I were banned from power tools. Alas! So we found new ways to demolish things--we got axes and shovels and tore down old outhouses, dead trees, and anything we could get away with. O:)

I'm not sure why our parents thought we shouldn't be allowed to have dynamite... :P

~Merc

Becky Mushko said...

Now I don't feel so bad about melting the head of my weed eater the other day (although I did suffer weed-eating withdrawal until my husband bought me a new one.)

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Julie Weathers said...

I love this post. Yes, I'm a power tool fanatic also. Well, I like a complete set of quality hand tools also and a nice tool box, but power tools make me drool.

Will and I gutted the old house and rebuilt it. I hired an electrician to rewire it and a supposed contractor to add the new addition and replumb it. We had to redo about everything he did, including replacing studs in walls he cut too short and thought just putting 20 nails from the rafter to the stud would be enough.

By the time it was done I had a power planer, table saw. compound miter saw, reciprocating saw, jig saw, skill saw, belt sander, mouse sander, wet saw, Dremmel tool set, router, hydraulic jacks to jack up the center spine in the roof and so forth. I had a nice chain saw, but ex loaned it to a friend and never got it back.

I took my tools when I left, but I do need a tool box.


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