Thursday, December 09, 2004

Carpentry Failure

My self-esteem has been brought to a new low by my attempts to install a pet door. I am starting to think that I’m not cut out for this home improvement stuff. My goodness, if I can’t complete this simple project, how can I ever hope to tile a floor or refurbish the deck!

The pet door is intended to give our cat access to the sunroom (and her litter box), while allowing us to close and deadbolt the door between the house and sunroom. The door between the sunroom and outside has a flimsy lock. I do not feel confident about it as an intruder barrier.

The pet door instructions looked simple. 1. Trace template on the door. 2. Drill four holes, one at each corner of the template. 3. Insert jigsaw blade into the holes and make four cuts. 4. Attach pet door frame with four screws.

I began on Tuesday night, but only made it to step #2. The template tracing was no problem. I even managed to place the template in the center of the door. My drilling did not go so well. I used the second largest bit, so that the hole would be large enough to accommodate the saw blade. My first hole made it through the door, barely. On the next three hole attempts, the drill gave up on me. Thinking it just needed a recharge, I plugged the battery pack in and gave the drill a rest.

I was, however, encouraged by my one, complete hole and decided to try the jigsaw. I thought I was pretty bad-ass when I bought the saw, but upon assembling it, realized it terrified me. It is big and heavy and the blade moves very fast. I gathered my courage and attempted to put the blade into the hole in the door. It wouldn’t fit; my hole was too small. Nevertheless, I tried to use the saw, but, without a hole to insert the blade into, it just bounced off of the door, marring the paint. I’m lucky it didn’t bounce into my leg and sever an artery. I’m sure Mike would have been unamused to come home and find that I had bled to death from a stupid jigsaw accident.

On Wednesday night, I attempted further drilling, with the largest bit and a freshly charged battery. I managed to eat one large hole in the door before deciding that this project is best done with the door in a horizontal position. I will need Mike to help me take the door off of its hinges and carry it to the back porch.

There are two reasons why I think I am having so much trouble. The first is that the door is not hollow! I thought that hollow doors were the ubiquitous, but either this is an old, pre-hollow-core era door or solid wood is the standard for doors to the outside. I have been trying to drill through about 1.5 inches of solid wood. I don’t think I am using the appropriate drill bits for such a project. The largest bit just seems to push its way into a hole, rather than biting into the wood. The second problem is that I have absolutely no control of the jigsaw. As I mentioned, it is heavy. I am amazed at the diagram that came with the pet door; it pictures a person using the jigsaw, on a vertical surface, with one hand!

With Mike’s help, I’ll tackle the pet door again on Saturday. Hopefully, I will be able to better control the saw on a horizontal surface and I’ll have Mike poised to dial 9-1-1. I refuse to give up!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

First (now that I've had time to reflect more on the project), I don't think your drill is powerful enough - you need one that has a bigger motor and actually plugs in. Second, a jigsaw is probably not the appropriate tool - the pet door instructions were probably made with modern doors in mind. Third, please don't try using these tools again, as I'm worried for your safety.

Let me call a carpenter friend of mine and ask what may be best.

I'm sorry I didn't think of any of this the other night when you showed me what you had done to that point, but then you know I'm the Amazing Handiless Man!!!

Later. Snowflake

8:22 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home