Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hammer, Meet Nail

So it turns out I’m not “handy” – get your minds out of the gutter people, I’m talking about using power tools here (I SAID get your minds out of the gutter). So, while I’ve had inklings over the years that I’m not…handily inclined, the full extent of my incompetence became shockingly obvious over the weekend.

You see, I recently got around to having a Van Gogh print I’d bought when I was in Europe framed (I love Van Gogh). It looked great – and it should have considering how much it costs to have something professionally framed nowadays (what a rip-off). Anyway, about 2 weeks ago I finally hung the little fucker up; no problem so far. Then, on Sunday, I learned the hard way that I must have done something wrong in the hanging (admittedly not a complicated thing to do – for most people). Horribly, horribly wrong.

This truth became clear to me when the whole kit and caboodle came crashing down. For no discernible reason (besides my obvious incompetence that is). Glass everywhere. Loud noise – check. Nice new scar on my wooden floor – check. $150 framing cost down the drain – check. Another example of my inability to do any home repair work effectively – check. I…am…useless.

Want some other examples of why I should not be allowed near any tools (power or otherwise)? Okay, let’s go back to my Ikea experience after graduating from college. Like a lot of people, when I graduated from college and got my first non-furnished apartment, I made a trip to Ikea. Ikea means cheap furniture that (fuck) you have to assemble yourself. BUT, my mother was helping me put everything together – she loves doing shit like that; it would have been nice if she’d passed that particular gene onto me – so I was feeling pretty confident. She was in charge of putting together my dresser, my entertainment center, and my bookshelves. All I had to do was put together my little nightstand. Good plan, right? Wrong.

In the time it took my mother to put together all the aforementioned furniture (correctly), I put together my nightstand (incorrectly – several times). Long story short I tried to put the door for the nightstand on backwards. When it didn’t seem to fit, I got out some nails and just tried to make it fit – but then the door wouldn’t open (surprise, surprise). So I had to tear all the nails out and start again. After a few more tries I finally ended up with a nightstand that looked like it had been through a war – holes everywhere, torn wood everywhere, and more than a few dents from my (erratic) hammering. BUT, I still have the little fucker – I let my cat sharpen her nails on it (it looks like crap anyway) – and I’m damn proud of it (since I did it all by myself), so shut up.

Or what about this story – it really is the piece de resistance (spelling?) of my tales of destruction anyway (we can’t spend time going through all of them after all – think of this post as a cliff notes version if you will): Picture this – I’m in college. In a moment of complete lunacy, I decided (during my senior year – I was way ahead on credits but didn’t want to graduate early) to take a set-building class for the theater department. I guess I thought it would a) be fun, and b) be a good way for me to learn how to use power tools (yeah, I AM a moron).

Anyway, one day I was in class – goofing around as per usual – when I hit the button on the power screwdriver thingamabob I was holding. And…I guess I had forgotten to pull my hair back before class that day. Now for those of you who don’t know me (basically everyone here), I have REALLY long hair. And…um…some of it got caught in the twisty thing on the screwdriver. Like, a huge chunk of the right side of my hair (right above and behind the ear – a very sensitive area I don’t mind telling you).

Now I tried to remain calm once I realized what happened. Huh, I thought. Maybe if I hit the reverse button it will just unwind and release my hair. Good plan. So, I hit the button.

Bad plan. Bad, bad plan. My hair WAS NOT being released. Repeat: My hair was NOT being released. It was still being sucked in. Power tool near my face and skull. Trying not to panic. Trying to remain calm. In rather significant pain.

In that moment I knew I was well and truly fucked, and that the time had come to alert the instructor (oh, the shame) to my predicament. So I called him over, made him aware of the situation, and waited for him to work his magic. His magic (as it turned out), involved him first trying to pry my hair out of the machine one strand at a time. Hell, I could have tried that.

Unfortunately, after a few minutes it became clear that this was a futile task. So, he broke the news to me: He was going to have to cut my hair out of the screwdriver. Oh fuck no, I thought. And in a moment of panic, I hit the power button again. And as I struggled to keep the power tool away from my face, I TORE ALL THE HAIR THAT WAS CAUGHT right out of my head. I honestly think I saw stars at that point. It was…fucking horrible! Never have I felt anything like it. The closest I can come to describing it is to say that it was like getting a bikini wax – in hell.

Everyone (we’d drawn a crowd at that point) stood there for a moment in silence, just staring at the hunk of hair and scalp (yes, scalp) now hanging from the freed screwdriver. Finally the instructor collected himself enough to clear his throat (kind of looking like he was going to throw up), and say, “Well, this is why we ask that everyone with long hair please pull it back before coming to class.”

Fuck. You.

After that I had to deal with having a bald spot for like a month. I also became the most half-assed student the set-building class had ever seen, and I haven’t used an automatic power tool since (they certainly didn’t let me use one in class after that, that’s for sure – not that I wanted to). Anyway…bygones. So, anyone else have any good stories to add here? I have to run out and see if I can get my Van Gogh reframed – hell, I’m fired, might as well start spending my severance.


Jack Cobra said...

You could have very easily turned this into a post updating everyone on how the boyfriend/provider search is going.

Bruce Paine said...

Jack is right, you need someone with building experience.

on another note, the reason your print fell down was because you failed to anchor it to a stud in the wall. In this case, Red, a stud is a vertical board that makes up the skeleton of your wall. It is generally made of 2x material so it would only be an inch and a half wide. The weight of the glass frame probably pulled the print off the wall because the anchoring device (be it a screw or a nail) was inserted into the drywall alone, instead of through the drywall and into a stud. (That is, of course, a guess. I am an expert on the subject, though)

Finding studs in walls. Finding a stud can sometimes be problematic. the use of drywall or plaster is a factor. Generally, if using drywall one can use their hand to hit a wall, and search for the different sound. If it is a sharp thud then there is probably a stud behind it, if it sounds hollow you are between the studs. This won't work with plaster, and you will have to "probe" the wall. Probing involves taking a longer finish nail, perhaps 2 or 3 inches, and nailing holes in horizontal line in the wall until you find the stud. normally you would do that towards the bottom of the wall or you would pull off a piece of trim and do it behind the trim. Once found, the studs should be on "layoff" which means they will be 16 inches apart on center. Once you found one in a corner you could measure over to the middle of the wall and find one you would prefer to hang it on. There are plenty of nuances to the process that I am sure you could find a way to fuck up, but you already learned a heck of a lesson. If you put on a revealing top and went around to the construction sites I am sure you could find a nice young man who would be willing to nail you..errr..nail a hole for you...err... nail you to the wall...err..sorry. I am going back to work.

Jack Cobra said...

You can also procure a stud finder for like $6 at your local hardware store.

TK said...

gasp, pant, wheeze

I'm sorry, I just nearly suffocated from giggling so much. You are clearly a danger to yourself and others.

What was the Van Gogh print? Please don't say Starry Night.

Redhead said...

jack: Point taken - I'll update everyone on that later in the week.

bruce: What...the...fuck? Was that even English? Were you paying no attention? Who the fuck do you think I am? I'd sooner whore myself out to the nearest construction worker than attempt any of that. But...um...thanks for the advice.

jack: Better advice, but I think I'll just ask a man to do it for me next time (and now the feminist movement takes a HUGE step back).

tk: Fuck you. NO, it was NOT Starry Night - smartass. Believe it or not I happen to love art, I almost majored in it in college (I had a shit ton of credits in it but didn't know what kind of future there was), so bite me. (Damn I'm in a nice mood today.) Actually, it's an obscure print I got in St. Petersburg called Thatched Cottages in Auvers - beautiful colors and brushwork.

As for my being a danger - you have no idea.

onthevirg said...


You are a never ending delight and source of hilarity. I applaud you ma'am. Keep it coming.

Does putting a staple into my hand when I was in kindergarten count? I say no. I was was too young I think. Unlike you.

Bella said...

Girl...you have the worst luck! That hair story gave me the chills. A true nightmare!

Reminds me of the time my husband was drilling a screw in our fence and drilled the screw threw his finger instead. He expected me to put the drill in reverse and dislodge it. Yeah. Right. I'm a nurse and I was freaked out so I got my neighbor to do it. I'm not good with such tools either.

Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters. When we lived overseas we went to several galleries w/his works. Awesome.

Jumpshootingfool said...

Well, I guess we can scratch construction worker off the job search. Maybe you can be the cop or the Indian....
Funny story though. Must have hurt like hell, but funny for us!

MCBias said...

Forget the writings of Redhead; what we really need is the Bruce Paine Indoor Decorating blog, featuring 100% heterosexual commentary! :-p Is it bad that I'm starting to look forward to the comment section more than the actual blog itself?

Bruce Paine said...

MCBias, dammit, I AM NOT GAY. I keep trying to tell you that but it seems like every time I see a pair of heels in the window and think they might look nice you start calling me gay.

Jack - a guy with your intelligence should know that if she has plaster walls a studfinder's signal will go off every time she passes over the gap between the laths. Or, as some cheeper $5 models are prone to do, won't read the wall at all if there is horsehair or some other fiber used in the plaster.

I am guessing Red is a Souvenir de Mauvre gal but I may be wrong. Sorry Red, I could dumb it down further and add pictures but I didn't want ot come off as insulting.

Jez said...

Eh, fuck all that shit about studs. Get some anchors, a hammer, and a drill. Some anchors actually have the correct size drill bit.

Look, I once had the same shitty Ikea furniture building skills as you. In fact, I still fuck up about one out of each 5 pieces of Ikea furniture I build. If I can improve my skills, so can you.

Quit being such a goddamned girl and go get you some tools. Don't be dependent on some dumb man.

Redhead said...

onthevirg: So glad I can entertain - and no, a staple in your hand when you're a child doesn't count (who hasn't done that?).

bella: Ouch! I wouldn't have helped take it out either (although you are a nurse and wouldn't do it - hee hee). Yeah, Van Gogh was everywhere in Europe, and I just spent hours in museums standing there mesmerized by his works - he just blew me away.

jumpshootingfool: You have NO IDEA how much it hurt - it was... Nope, there are no words.

mcbias: Hey, thanks dude! So glad I'm not the most entertaining thing about MY OWN BLOG! Warning: You're now thisclose to making my shit list - that doesn't actually mean anything besides the fact that I will mock you mercilessly in the comments...um, more than usual that is.

bruce: You're wasting your time (although I appreciate the effort). I am the type who realizes when something is beyond me and then goes out and gets help - and you made it VERY CLEAR that hanging a picture is beyond me (humbling but true). See how mature I am?

jez: Were you paying NO ATTENTION to the above post? Did you already take mcbias' advice and skipped the post entirely to go straight to the comments? You want me to use a fucking DRILL? A DRILL? That's it - go back and read the post (particularly the last story), and then you can come back and comment. Until then - your advice SUCKS!

The Brooklyn Boy said...

I used to live in mortal fear of helping my dad use the tablesaw because he told me that if it stops in the wood, and you move it wrong, the blade flies out and slices you in half. He was going for "respect the saw" but put the Brodie-in-Mallrats "fear of the escalator" in me. I leave the shopwork to the pros.

Redhead said...

I LOVE Mallrats - "Who's your favorite New Kid? Call me Donnie."

Jez said...

And you wonder why the infrastructure of this country sucks....no one wants to learn how to fix it...

MCBias said...

Now redhead, it's your witty replies in the comment box and the silly comments they inspire that amuse me. I'm certainly not implying that the best part about your blog is not you, ha. I can see how it sounded like that, though; humble apologies and such.