Friday, June 30, 2017

Seventeen Tight Old Screws

My God, it's hard to get twenty-five-year-old screws, water-sealed annually with for twenty years, to back out of their holes. We're trying hard to keep the frame of the deck, so we don't want to simply go all demolition on it with sledgehammers.

My forearms hurt. My neck has a crimp in it.

I've unscrewed a total of four screws. Four.

And that took me an hour once I googled how to remove those old screws. Set the screwdriver in the slot, whack the screwdriver with a hammer, then carefully try to turn it. When it's moving and backed out enough to grab, use a pair of pliers to unscrew the screw. If you think screwing is a delicate operation, you should try unscrewing. The drill driver isn't the way to go.

My mind just went off in another direction. Pardon me while I self-correct.

Right. The screws came out okay once I could grab their heads and twist. Sometimes the screws broke off. Those had to be marked so we don't run new screws into broken screws later. That would be a mess.

Thankfully, the helpful teenagers I hired, Nick and his friend Brandon, unscrewed a bunch of the easier ones before it got too hot outside and I offered to get pizza.

"I'm bored," one said just as I put in the online order onto my app. He was lifting a loosened board off the bench.

"Screw you!" said the other holding up a drill driver. It took me too long to catch on. That was when I realized I needed to hydrate.We all did.

I had pictured us getting all this done in an afternoon, happily unscrewing one screw after another as I imagined my old deck undressing down to its bones and getting ready for the new one to take its place.

No dice.

After the boys quit, I went back outside to do my work in my slow but semi-effective way.  After four screws, I got too hot, came in the house, and turned on the air conditioner. Then I stood over it for a while and let it bathe me in cool air. Four fracking screws.



I drank three glasses of ice water and went back outside. I hate when a problem gets the better of me.

I made slow progress. I figured out that if I used the back of the hammer to whack the wood and shred it all around the screw, all I had to do was grab it with locking pliers and gently unscrew it. I peeled three drill bits and one screwdriver trying to figure this out. If the screw wouldn't turn with the locking pliers, I whacked its head with my hammer. If it broke as I twisted it using the pliers, I either grabbed the nub with the pliers and unscrewed it or scribbled on it with a sharpie so I'd remember to work on it later.

Mike came home about the time mosquitoes started biting. He'd bought new toys to help, an impact wrench and a powerful drill driver that vibrated stuff loose as it worked. The impact wrench was useless, but the drill driver pulled out about four nails in the time I unscrewed one. Still, Mike left a couple of tough ones for me to do. Then he went inside to rest.

He had worked all day, remember?

I went back to work. Basically, I need to shred a bunch of two by fours so I could get at the screws. I needed a damned chisel.

Then the mosquitoes. The franking mosquitoes.

When I came into the house, it was well past dinner time. I had trouble walking after I'd been squatting on a low footstool for so long. A blood blister had formed on my thumb where I pinched it in the pliers and a blister on my index finger broke open before I knew I even had a blister there. I was a sweaty, dusty mess. In all that, I'd probably pulled out seventeen or eighteen fricking screws.

Beans and rice for dinner. I asked Mike to open the cans of beans because that motion was too painful for me to manage.

The good news is that if you have a tough screw, I'm the one to back it out, as long as I can whack the hell out of the wood all around it first. Maybe I should try a Dremel tool. Shoot! What about our Dremel tool? I could just draw a little groove around the screw and put the flunking hammer away.

It's going to be a joy to start again tomorrow, a freaking joy. I'm going to wake up feeling like shit. My back will ache, my neck will be crimped, and my blisters will be aggravated at having to be rubbed. I hope I get more than sixteen screws pulled out by the time the mosquitoes come out tomorrow night.

I've got little bits of wood in my bra, bits of my frinking wood. I hate renovations.

Thank you for listening, jb

No comments:

Post a Comment