Back in the Groove, but Suitably Chastened

Stop remembering TV and get back to work!

– Marge Simpson

Earlier this week, we said good-bye to Kevin’s sister, our nephew and his friend. We had a blast, and miss them loads. We did so many things — including corrupting new young minds with Farkel. We are so lucky that folks are willing to come a long dang way to see us — it’s a lot of work, but it’s fun work and we love it. We love them.

(As an aside: we regularly have houseguests for two weeks or more, but I still learn something every time. This time, I learned that it’s a good idea to tighten the set screws in bathroom towel racks and hooks before they see extra use. Those things loosen up over time, and I lifted one right off the wall with a towel the day after our guests left. That would be so awkward for a guest, parts of the house coming off for no reason!)

The visit gave us a welcome break from house stuff. Sometimes, when I’ve had a break, I think, “Do I really actually enjoy that stuff?? ‘Cuz this time off is super-fine!” But then I start thinking up projects and it starts again. Last night, for instance, I had a sudden yearning to use … the HAMMER DRILL.

Worx Hammer Drill

Worx Hammer Drill

I’ll come back to the project itself another time. For now, I just want to warn y’all — if you’ve had a break from DIY:


A hammer drill is a serious piece of kit. I was using it to drill fairly large holes into some old and very hard wood. It’s a great tool for that, but in my post-break enthusiasm, I didn’t use basic safety practices you could teach to a gibbon. Learn from my d’oh’s!

Thing one, put the wood on some sawhorses. I mean, come on! Don’t get all excitable and drape the wood off the bench or lean it against the vise. It takes two minutes to set up sawhorses. Just do it.

Putting the work below your center of gravity on a stable surface gives you more control over the tool. You want to have a good proportion of your weight above the machine to manage it better. Especially if you are all Grover-arms like me.

(I originally image-searched for “Grover trying to lift something” — it yielded a wide range of results, none of which were Grover trying to lift something. But I’m guessing there’s a plastic surgeon named Dr. Grover out there.)

Thing two, clamp the board down to the sawhorses! You don’t need to be holding onto the board while also drilling. Eliminate extra things to do with your hands so you can control the drill (or saw or whatever power tool you are using).

Thing three, make sure the bit is really properly tightened. If you don’t get it super tight and the drill stops dead because it hit a knot or something, then STOP. Unplug the tool and pull out the bit. Don’t try to force the drill because one of three things can happen:

1. If the bit is stuck, the body of the drill itself will try to turn, which is like a Rottweiler trying to get its favorite chew toy away from you. Not good on the wrist and shoulder!

2. If you’ve got the drill up too high, the body of the drill will try to turn, thereby turning you and causing you to somehow smack the glasses right off your own dang face. IT CAN HAPPEN. Not good on the nose or the glasses. Or the drill.

3. You could seriously hurt yourself or someone else.

That third thing didn’t happen, fortunately, but not for lack of trying. Our hammer drill can be hand-tightened, but it does have a more elaborate tightening process that I should have followed for this tough old wood.

Home improvement is exciting, people. Just don’t get carried away by your justifiable passion and forget to use your brain!

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