A Good Screw: Performing Manly Jobs Around the House

While Jarrod was away, I decided to step into a manly role around the house, break out the power drill and get some projects done. First off we needed to baby proof, so I assembled and installed the baby gate. Secondly, I had been wanting to put in an indoor retractable clothesline, so that I could use the dryer less to save energy. Lastly, I wanted to install some hooks on our closet doors to hang bathrobes, towels, etc.

My New Clothesline

I gathered up all of my supplies and got to work. First up was the clothesline. It went up relatively easily. I’m a little concerned with how cheap it is and hopefully it holds up over time, but so far so good. Now the goal had been to anchor it into the studs, so I pulled out my trusty (insert laugh here) stud finder and drilled my holes.

I'm hoping this will save some money on the electric bill!

One problem….on the first wall there wasn’t a stud where the finder said there would be. Let’s hope those drywall plugs do their job! On the opposite wall my stud finder worked and I hit wood. 50% success rate in finding studs. Sounds more like a dating site than a household project. Anyway, with the closthes line installed I got a load of laundry hung and it seemed to work just fine. I think though, that I’ll reserve heavy items for the railing.

The new baby gate

Second project, the baby gate. The instructions included were actually in English and pretty good. It went together relatively easily. The only problem I encountered was installer error (I forgot to use a level to check for straightness before installing the latch) so my gate is a bit akimbo but functionally sound.

The last project, however, which sounds like the easiest (seriously, how hard can hanging hooks be?) had me seeing red! By this point, I was a pro with the drill. I measured my doors so that I had the hooks centered, marked

Cheap, broken screws!

the holes to be drilled, drilled pilot holes into the wood and then attempted to drill in my screws. This is where I failed. The screws were Phillips (i.e. “X” screws or “star” screws) which are about the MOST USELESS screws invented. They strip really easily especially when they’re made of cheap metal (as these were). As soon as they started to strip I stopped with the drill and started to hand

Note that the head of the bottom screw is broken off!

tighten them. They were SO cheap though, that the snapped in half with the shaft of the screw buried in the wood and the head of the screw in my hand. Grrrr. I was able to pry 2 of the 4 screws out with pliers. The 3rd and 4th however are a lost cause. I then replaced them with less cheap screws that I could screw the rest of the way in. The other 2 hooks had the same el- cheapo screws and so I decided right off the bat NOT to use them. I went digging around in our “loose screw jar” and found 4 small screws that would do the trick on the remaining hook. One problem….they were stupid Phillips screws again.

Stripped, useless screws!

Now I don’t know who this Phillip guy was, but clearly he was an idiot. His screws are useless and always strip. Now I have 2 stripped screws only half embedded in the wood and are too stripped to drill in or twist out. I’ll have to grab the pliers and remove them. This project, which should have taken 10 minutes tops, cost me the entire evening and I still haven’t got it finished. You see, what I need is a good screw (mind out of the gutter people). Now when it comes to reliable screwing, you should always count on a Canadian to get the job done. Seriously. The Robertson screw (aka the square) is the best out there (initially invented in 1908 by P.L. Robertson from Milton, ON). While it can be annoying, because you need a screwdriver that fits it perfectly (as there are several sizes), it does not tend to strip. So, now I’m off in search of an old-fashioned, trusty Canadian screw to unscrew my initial screw screw-up.

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