Friday, August 15, 2008

Tools for the Job

Late this past Sunday afternoon I marched across the street to the neighbors'. I wonder what Mrs. Neighbor thought when she saw me standing at her door, 10" pry bar in hand.

"I was wondering, do you have a bigger pry bar than this?" I asked quickly, to forestall any dire impressions.

"Oh, yes! I'll send my husband over with it when he gets home."

But the afternoon, the evening, and the days went by, and no neighbor with large pry bar appeared.

Meanwhile, I've moved my trim removal labors into the living room, and there are baseboard pieces in there that I can't get off the wall by myself, with my present arsenal of tools. If I borrowed the neighbor's pry bar once, I'd have to keep borrowing it again and again and again.


Gotta get a pry bar with some decent leverage of my own. And get it cheap.

Which in my area, turns out not to be Lowe's or BigLots (that's just cheeep), but Hamilton Tool & Supply Company on Seventh Avenue in Beaver Falls. Yesterday afternoon, between dumpster-diving, I drove up and visited them for the first time.

This place is hilarious! It reminds me of my grandpa's and my dad's workshops taken to the nth power; the biggest toolbox in the world, multiplied and on steroids. An ancient Victorian building with a corner turret and floor upon floor, room after room of tools, tools, and more tools! Tools piled on shelves! Tools hanging on walls! Tools in file cabinets! Tools in boxes! Tools in bins! Tools in desk drawers! Used tools! New tools! Antique tools! Gigantic tools! Tiny tools! Tools power and mechanical! Tools beyond imagining! Sensoree obberlode, ai haz it!

Having told him what I needed, the clerk took me up two or three flights and back into the bowels of the building. There I was allowed to rummage through a veritable haymow of prybars of all sizes and descriptions. I tried the heft, the pulling angle, and the splay of end on several, and settled for two, one used and one new, that should do the job. $5 and $7, cheap.

Then the clerk escorted me down a floor to find a plaster spatula/putty knife. I needed a nice wide one to put between the wall and the woodwork, to stop the pry bar leaving marks in the back of the trim. This collection was in the bottom drawer of a metal four-drawer file. Hey, it makes for low overhead, what? $1, used.

Truly, as the Hamilton clerk said on the phone when I called, happiness is a good selection of pry bars. The newer-model one I got made short work of the living room baseboard pieces I started on Wednesday and couldn't get loose.

And of the trim around the piano window to the right of the living room fireplace. (Funny, when I first moved in, I thought that was the first trim I was going to strip and refinish. That was nearly five years ago. Funny.)

It also enabled me to pry the 12' baseboard the rest of the way off the north wall of the dining room . . . unfortunately, the piece was a tight fit on the left, ran into the resheetrocked wall a good two inches at the right, and was cracked at both ends. And the hole I'd made in the east wall sheetrock didn't give it room enough.

Yeah, the cracks kept going. All the way. Both ends.

Hooboy! More gluing to do! In a perfect world, I'd use biscuits to join the pieces together. In a perfect world, I'd have whatever machine it takes to make the slots. Will I go back to Beaver Falls to see if Hamilton's has one?

No, don't think so. Not now. For this, I probably can get away with clamps and then reinforcing the joints with those squiggly metal fasteners. But it's nice to think they might have a biscuit slot machine, if I needed one!

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