Monday, September 14, 2009

I try to use my power tools for good and not evil

I was afraid this place was in danger of becoming some sort of food blog because I posted so much about cooking, but fortunately I haven't cooked a damn thing in a couple of weeks. I baked some dog brownies (made with salmon, mmm!) and heated up or assembled a few meals (sloppy joes!), but that's about it. One night I had cheese for dinner. Yes! Cheese! Being an adult is fun sometimes.

Anyway, what I feel like now is a DIY maven. I fixed something. Fixed it good.

What happened is that my basement door suddenly wouldn't latch or lock. I store some good stuff there, stuff I don't want stolen, so I was a little distressed about the new lack of lockability. I'm not sure how it came about; apparently something (the door? the house?) shifted enough so that the latch on the doorknob no longer lined up with the strike plate on the door jamb. On another door, I probably would have been able to move the strike plate down a bit to meet the latch, but this door jamb is made of metal, and the recession for the latch is built-in. The only way to make it line up again would have involved taking the door off, doing something, I don't know what, to it and re-hanging it. No way I wanted to get into that. (Or I could have called up a handyperson, said "fix this" and then paid him or her whatever the price was, but I'm cheap and not very wealthy.)

So I had the bright idea to just slap a deadbolt on the thing, and use that to lock it instead of the doorknob. Brilliant! I go off to the hardware store (Triangle True Value at Woodcroft--they are very nice and helpful there; it's much less of an ordeal than wandering around a big box), and ask them to arm me with all the weapons I need to install a new deadbolt. Unfortunately, I had sort of forgotten the pesky but very important detail about the metal door frame until after I got home. Crap. How the hell do I make a hole in that?

Here's where I want to say something nice about Facebook. I posted my dilemma in my status update, and while I didn't get the exact solution, I got lots of helpful or encouraging comments. I decided that I would, by crikey, make a damn hole in the damn door frame, whatever it took.

It took a couple more tools: a titanium drill bit and a tungsten carbide cutter bit for my Dremel. I should have gone back to True Value and presented my dilemma, and the guys there would have armed me again with whatever I needed, but I was a little embarrassed that I had forgotten the part about the metal door frame when I was there previously. So I took a vague idea of what I wanted to the blue big box home store that just opened near me at MLK and Fayettville Rd. (it's shiny!), and wandered the tool corral. I found the drill and Dremel bits, but I wanted some sort of confirmation that they might work. So I finally cornered an employee who was trying to scurry by unnoticed, presented my dilemma and proposed solution to him and asked if he thought it would work. "Yes," he said. He seemed almost elated that what I asked required little thinking or effort on his part. For all I know the guy was an intergalactic visitor newly arrived through the rift and "yes" was the only English word he could say. Whatever. I was going to make a damn hole in that damn door frame no matter what anyone told me.

In addition to the tools, the task required a crapload of determination, strong arms and hands and a lot of swear words. (Do not skip that last step! You'd be amazed that the regenerative power of "F" and "GD" words when you are ready to give up on something.) I started by drilling a big hole with the titanium drillbit. On hindsight, I realized I should have gotten a bigger bit, because that was the easiest part of the whole job and a bigger starting hole would have gotten me finished much more quickly. I had been afraid that if something didn't work out, the bigger bit would do more damage than a smaller one, but the bit worked beautifully.

Once I had the initial hole, my plan was to use the Dremel to bore it out to deadbolt size and shape. The problem was that the tungsten carbide cutter wasn't ideal for the job. Even though on the outside of the package it clearly said "for wood, metal, blah blah blah," on the inside it said "not for use on metal." I decided to try it anyway, because the alternative was to go back to the store and I was burning daylight. So I started grinding away, but progress was slow. It was hard to see that the Dremel was making any visible difference, and it was getting damn hot and throwing sparks. (The is is a good place to note that yes, I wore eye protection and a dust mask.) I started getting a bit frustrated.

I decided to see what else I could do with the drill while letting the Dremel cool down a bit. What I ended up doing was treating the drill like a little Sawzall, just hacking away at the hole, which very slowly got larger. Then I'd put the drill down and Dremel a bit, switching back and forth between the two, stopping every now and then to see if the hole was big enough for the deadbolt. It was grueling, not very fun and all the vibration was making my hands hurt. But the longer it took and the harder it seemed, the more determined I became that there would be an F-ing hole in this GD door frame.

After I don't know how long, I did my deadbolt test and the thing worked! I now had a locking deadbolt. Damn! It felt good. This task was exactly the kind of thing the former Mr. Pants would have taken care of back when I was married, and I'm pretty convinced I did it quicker and more efficiently than he would have (not to mention he probably wouldn't have gotten around to it until after the lawn mower was stolen). Ha!

Now I need a new floor in the kitchen. I wonder if my super powers are up to it ...


girlnblack77 said...

This ROCKS. Good job! :)

Lisa B. said...