Thursday, August 04, 2005

Saw Master

I’m a fraidy cat. First, I was afraid of my new jig saw, then my sewing machine, then the heat gun. Eventually, I overcame my fears to learn to use each of them and complete projects. In May, I bought a circular saw on Ebay to use in various home renovation/maintenance projects (e.g. the new kitchen counter). After its arrival, the saw sat in its USPS box for weeks. I couldn’t bring myself to open it because I was afraid of the saw. I imagined that, when plugged in, it would take on a life of its own, like the car in Christine. It might leap from my hands, intent on severing a finger or fatally cutting an artery in my thigh. At the very least, I was afraid that I would injure myself through my own incompetence. A visit to only intensified my fears. The saw stayed in its box.

Finally, our immovable attic access doors became so annoying that Mike and I unpacked the saw and attempted to put it together. (After the carpet was installed, the access doors no longer had enough clearance to open.) The blade had been removed from the saw and shipped with it. With no instructions and no prior experience with circular saws, we attempted to install the blade. After much arguing about the direction in which the blade should spin, we managed a test run on a piece of scrap wood. I was surprised by how much noise it made, and wary should the saw become demonically possessed and veer towards my limbs. Deafened, but whole, we moved on to trimming the access doors and almost finished the first one when we realized that we had not correctly installed the blade and spacers. Consequently, the blade was cutting far to the right of the guide (and the saw was emitting nasty sparks). We corrected the blade’s positioning and completed the cuts. Feeling quite empowered, I danced around the basement singing “I am the Champion” (after carefully unplugging the saw – you can never be too sure!) A few of the attic doors are crooked or ragged at the bottom, but they open now.

My next project with the saw was to “repair” the bottom of the garden gate. The bottom edge of the gate looked as if a dog had tried to chew its way out. Cleo, positioning herself under one of the larger bites, could slip under the gate. While Cleo is allowed to roam freely, Tibbs is not. I imprisoned him in the backyard by setting a line of bricks under the gate. This kept Tibbs in, while allowing the gate enough clearance to swing. However, I must have tripped over the bricks dozens of times, stubbing toes in the process.

My solution was to purchase two fence boards and trim them (with my not-so-evil-after-all circular saw!) to the width of the gate. After two coats of white paint, Mike and I screwed them to either side of the gate. The boards conceal the chewed bottom and extend the gate down an inch or so. Taking advantage of a little slave labor, I had Pixie and Mike give the entire gate a final coat of white paint. It looks great and Tibbs is still (mostly) trapped. (He’s recently learned to climb the fence posts and then jump over the wire fencing, but he only does that if I’m on the other side.)

I feel like a heroine with my recently acquired saw mastery. I’m also one step closer to continuing the kitchen renovation. Now, if I could just get over my fear of tiling


Blogger Scott in Washington said...

Woo hoo! Yah Kasmira! The circular saw will dramatically increase your havoc wreaking potential. Eventually you'll get a chopsaw and then you'll be saying to yourself, "Why didn't I get a chopsaw years ago? This is some much easier!" But, don't get me wrong, the circ. saw is a great tool.

Tiling: why not try a small, out of the way, and easily removable project first, like tiling a table top or some stepping stones?

9:28 AM  
Blogger OldRoses said...

Kasmira, you're so brave! I have a small cordless drill that I am terrified of and only use as a last resort. I can't imagine using a jig saw or a circular saw.

10:37 PM  
Blogger crazygramma said...

You rock girl, I won't even light a BBQ

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Do you have a wet tile saw? We got one after it took us forever to tile a bathroom floor with tile nips and a straight cutter. The wet tile saw (ours ran ~$80 at Lowe's) made cutting tiles so incredibly easy. And you'll find that laying tile is quick and easy: spread mastic, comb it, place tiles and spacers, repeat.

The gate door, by the way, looks really nice. Great solution!

5:02 AM  
Blogger Takoma Gardener said...

Kasmira - you and Heather are both inspiring me to overcome my fears of power saws. Hope you post about your tile project, too.
And I love your writing. Susan

10:43 AM  

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