Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bilbo's Handy Guide to the Home Workshop

Hello once again from beautiful Colorado Springs, where it is - so far - not snowing. According to last night's forecast, our snow is supposed to start in mid-afternoon and continue into tomorrow afternoon, with accumulations of ... well ... whatever. It varies. So far they're calling for 2-4 inches this afternoon, 5-8 inches overnight, and another 1-2 inches tomorrow. My flight is at 8:00 tomorrow morning. I think I may be here a while. Sigh.

While I'm waiting for breakfast, I thought I'd share this guide to the various types of tools found in many home workshops. Being the world's worst handyman, I am always on the lookout for handy guides like this, and thought it would be of use to you as well:

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your soda across the room, splattering it against that freshly-stained heirloom piece you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned guitar calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, “OW!!”

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, or for perforating something behind and beyond the original intended target object.

SKIL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs. Caution: Avoid using for manicures.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built for frustration enhancement. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

WELDING GLOVES: Heavy duty leather gloves used to prolong the conduction of intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16- or ½-inch socket you've been searching for the last 45 minutes.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG YELLOW PINE 4x4: Used for levering an automobile upward off of a trapped hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters and wire wheel wires.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps neatly off in bolt holes thereby ending any possible future use.

RADIAL ARM SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to scare neophytes into choosing another line of work.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 24-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A very large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, 'the sunshine vitamin,' which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids, opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact gun that grips rusty bolts which were last over tightened 40 years ago by someone at VW, and instantly rounds off their heads. Also used to quickly snap off lug nuts.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent to the object we are trying to hit.

MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use. It is also useful for removing large chunks of human flesh from the user's hands.

DAMMIT TOOL: (I have lots of these) Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'DAMMIT!! at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need after a really big hammer.

Don't thank me. It's all part of the service.

I may or may not post tomorrow morning, depending on whether or not I actually am able to leave town. Stay tuned for more of Bilbo's Eskimo-Wannabe Adventures.

Have a good day. More thoughts ... whenever.



Anonymous said...

Bilbo, my boy, I had no idea how well you understood my life! I endorse all of your comments on tools and I haven't laughed this hard in ages.

Signed: Anonymous former something or other and current amateur furniture/car/house/tool destroyer

Anonymous said...

I have many of those same tools. They are the tools I use before I call in a repairman.

Binford 500....Tim's lawn tractor with a hemi

Mal Kiely [Lancelots Pram] said...

I'll have to show this to my housemate, a fitter/machinist - he'll get a real kick from this! Thanks for the laffs! :D

fiona said...

I'm pretty handy with "Tools"
Just so you know ;-)

wv- hysturd - A stolen poop

Melissa B. said...

Neither I nor Mr. Fairway are very handy around the house. We've got the requisite screwdrivers and a couple of hammers, and LOTS of duct tape, but that's about there anything you CAN'T fix with duct tape?

Mrs. Geezerette said...

I was planning on taking a course in Home Workshop. I won't need to now. You've educated me.

Mike said...

I have most of those tools. And have done ALL those things.

Bilbo said...

Anonymous - yep...we understand each other, even if we don't always agree!

Bandit - my thoughts exactly.

Mal - no charge!

Fiona - ah, my beloved queen of the double entendre...

Melissa - duct tape and clothesline are the only tools I understand.

SusieQ - take the workshop. If you're depending on me, all is lost.

Mike - somehow, I knew that.

vw: mysthe - not yoursthe.