Tools are dangerous in wrong hands

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When it comes to common, everyday tools, I’m about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.

I can’t drive a nail straight, even with directions.

Take last week for instance. My wife’s nephew gave us an indoor-outdoor thermometer as a Christmas gift. In honor of the occasion, I purchased a cordless drill thing-a-magiggy to help with the installation effort (plus my wife said we needed one for another “project” she has on the list).

I marked the holes on our back porch where I wanted to mount the bracket that holds the outside part of the thermometer. I drilled a “starter hole” for each of the two screws. I changed out the drill bit for a Phillips bit, holding the bracket in place with one hand and began tightening the screws. Both stopped about halfway in.

After a few choice words, I attempted to finish the job with a hand-held Phillips screwdriver. Two scraped knuckles later, I threw the screwdriver halfway across the backyard and grabbed a hammer.

What I failed to realize is that a hammer, in the hands of an irate person, can and will inflict great harm on a plastic mounting bracket.

Let’s just say thank God for super glue and duct tape.

Upon thinking of my lack of general knowledge of handyman tools, I’ve devised descriptions of what use they are to me.

Skill Saw: a portable cutting tool used to make whatever you’re cutting too short.

Pliers: used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

Vice-Grips: generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads.

Drill Press: a tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching a flat metal bar out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room.

Belt sander: an electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

Band saw: a large stationary power saw that slices good aluminum into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

Oxyacetylene Torch: used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects on fire.

Phillips Screwdriver: normally used as a tool to make punctures in any type of sealed cans of liquid, leading to stained clothing. It can also be used (if I find mine in the backyard) to strip out Phillips screw heads.

Straight Screwdriver: a tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.

24-inch Screwdriver: basically it’s a very long pry bar that’s also handy to even out hot charcoal in your outdoor grill.

Floor Jack: used raising a heavy object and later lowering the same onto your foot.

2×4 Yellow Pine: a handy device used to pry a heavy object off your foot.

Hose cutter: used to cut hoses too short.

Hammer: originally employed as a weapon of war, it is nowadays used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object you are trying to hit.

And, finally, my favorite – the Dammit Tool: any handy tool that you grab and throw while yelling ‘DAMMIT!’ at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

(Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at or 252-332-7207.)