Wanted: For Use of Excessive Force

The only person more dangerous than inexperienced “handy” man is an inexperienced “handy” man with power tools. Such was the case last night. Toss in a sense of urgency with the project and you have the makings of a full-fleged fiasco.

It all started with an idealist notion of supporting the local economy, helping out the little guys, and avoiding the big box stores when possible. The problem is that in some cases you just end up buying the same exact junk for a higher price and sometimes with even less help than you would receive at a Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Thinking that a toilet seat is a toilet seat, last summer I drove two minutes down the road to the local hardware store and purchased the only toilet seat in stock. It was some kind of wood or probably imitation partical board material, but it seemed good enough for us. A few months later the toilet seat began to fall apart in several places. Over time the gap grew wider until a few days ago the seat just fell apart.

So we paid more to just have something fall apart within a year. Being a stubborn idealist I went to a bigger store in the next town over that is locally owned. I paid 3 times more for a really nice toilet seat. I’m hoping that I will not have to give in to Home Depot next year by the way. But then the problem of removing the old seat hit me square on. The old screws, the ones that need to be turned while the nut is held in place, were rusted and corroded. There was no way to turn them or hold them in place. The screw driver just tore it apart.

And here’s where the mess began. It was 10 pm, I needed to put on a new toilet seat, and I didn’t quite know what to do.

Enter drill.

I have a really sweet drill that I don’t deserve. My wife bought it for me as a Christmas present. It makes life so easy for me. I love it. The drill was my companion last night and hopefully my way out of the jam.

With the second largest metal bit in place, I hammered away at the screws and attempted to sever the metal ring around the screw. The first screw eventually became too loose to drill around since it just spun when the drill made contact. Despair hovered like an unwelcome thunder storm. As luck would have it, my drilling into the screw had created enough of a solid slot for my flat head bit to wedge into. That little slot was all I needed to remove the first screw.

Yet the second screw was even more corroded. Tossing the flat head bit aside, I continued to pound at the ring with my drill bit, pausing often to remove the mound of shavings around the point of contact. Having the other screw out made pulling on the old seat much easier, and I eventually ripped the seat off.

After a very frustrating hour and 15 minutes of drilling, twisting, and yanking, my plan actually worked by golly. It was a long, frustrating, and excessively destructive job, but it worked. Fortunately no tools were broken, the toilet itself was not drilled, and none of my fingers were smashed or drilled. Comparing the results with the potential devastation, I’d say this project was a success.

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