Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Rule In Abeyance On Project "Fence"?

I've been asked by a reader to explain why I didn't apply The Rule1 to the weekend's fence rebuild and acquire a gas-powered post hole auger or a fuel cell driven power nailing gun or somesuch essential tool.

In short, I did, sorta.

The taxman had recently stripped the Steviewallet of several hundred tool-acquisition dollars and rendered anything but essential tool purchases impossible, but even so I would normally have indeed justified finding $350 from somewhere for that nail gun2 had I not snuck out of the house during one of Mrs Stevie's previous absences two weeks ago and acquired a replacement for my recently self-destructed router.

I had made the descision to go with a Sears model again because:
a) I had actually liked my original Sears router very much.
2) I could not afford to buy both the expensive 3.5 horsepower plunge router I knew I needed3 and a fixed-based router
þ) The Sears 2 horsepower router I had my eye on was getting good reviews
♥ The Sears 2 horsepower router cost well under a hunnerd bux.

Of course, once I had actually visited a Sears the plan got altered a bit. I like to try out the plunge router plunge mechanism on each plunge router I see up close, and when I tried the el-cheapo Sears 1.75 horsepower model the springs were the softest I'd ever experienced. Call me A. Nidoiot but it makes no real sense to me to make the springs on a plunge tool so strong they could double as truck suspension parts. If you are trying to operate a tool , the moving part of which is razor sharp and zooming round and round more than 300 times a second, the last thing you need is to be fighting to overcome the resistance of the springs that are really only required to lift the bit clear of the workpiece, not catapult the hapless craftsman across his workshop upon releasing the plunge lock at the end of the cut.

Now I was torn. Fortunately Sears had a solution. They offered the fixed-base router I wanted with an exchangeable plunge base, and put it all in a nice case too. I verified that the plunge base was the same as the one I'd just tried and it was. Sold!

Or not.

Sometimes, the staff in Sears can be a bit dense. If you read the entry on trying to buy a cab for Troll, The Snowblower Of Supreme Spiffiness you'll see what I mean. Once again I was allowed to stand in a store while three members of staff ignored me. I wouldn't have been surprised except that I picked this particular Sears because it normally is the only local one that doesn't suffer from this problem. I was intrigued and in no particular hurry to buy so I went home. During the next week I made four trips to this Sears on the way home from my train to conduct a little unofficial research. Each time I allowed ten minutes to elapse before I left the store unhelped by any of the gossiping 20-something staff. I finally went into the store and found some elderly guys manning the fort and was, at last, helped.

Or not

It turned out that although the computer to which the national Sears website is connected and from which it was possible for me to order ahead (though I didn't) said there were four of these router kits in stock, the real value was zero. Even the display model wasn't a complete set and so they couldn't even offer to sell it to me.

Eventually I remembered there was a Sears in Hicksville, drove over to it on a Saturday night while Mrs Stevie and the Stevieling were safely out of the way, and found that they had one which they were happy to sell to me. The whole deal took about 30 minutes.

The router is all that I hoped it would be, and I used it to machine the 2x4s that I used to repair the fence between me and Crazy Joe. Given the shortage of folding cash in the Stevievault, the happiness with the New Router which, being a replacement, was acquired outside the strictures of The Rule and the lack of any real need for a new tool for Project Repair The Front Fence Before It Falls Completely Over And Kills Someone You Nitwit4 (which by itself is actually no barrier to tool acquisition, indeed, is actually the point in some cases) I couldn't justify the cost.

The new router has twice the power of the old one for chewing up wood all the faster, electronic torque control to stop those annoying motor stalls that make flames shoot out of the router louvers and pop the circuit breakers, variable speed so the larger raised panel bits don't fly apart and embed shrapnel in the Steviebod, slow start so we'll have no more of those embarrasing "dropped router" or "accidentally routed workbench/bystanding item/limb" incidents upon switching on and integral worklights so that when the urge to route with the workshop lights off is overpowering I can just go with it.

Why the money saved on trips to the emergency room alone should pay for the thing in only five or six jobs.

  1. No Tool, No Job
  2. Not a waste of money inasmuch as I would then have spent the next day fixing every single defect in the fence to try out the tool, a job that will take several days to do by conventional hammer
  3. For something as yet not actually defined
  4. Title kindly provided by Mrs Stevie

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