Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wayback Wednesday: But I NEED Five Hammers

As a way to bring my writing forward into the 21st century, and because I was too busy to find and research another post for today, I'm firing up the Way Back Machine, and pulling out a column from September 2003.

But I NEED Five Hammers

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2003

One of the great things about being a home owner is that there is always something that needs to be repaired or remodeled. And while most home owners will agree that I've probably been hit in the head with a hammer too many times, any tool-loving Guy knows exactly what I'm talking about.

The reason these projects are so wonderful is they usually require a new tool to finish them. And not just any tool. We want a heavy-duty, testosterone-laden tool that can also function as a military weapon when it's not being used for minor household repairs.

So smart Guys will only work on projects that require a new tool. But even smarter Guys will create projects that let them buy the special tool they've been drooling over for the past three weeks.

Unfortunately, this puts our wives in a bit of a quandary. They're 99 percent positive we could get by without a variable-speed plunge router, or a new 24-volt cordless circular saw. But they also know that if they ever want the front door to close properly, the faucet to quit leaking, or the stairs to stop collapsing, they may have to let us win once in a while.

Wife: Are you sure you need a 12" dual slide compound miter saw with laser cut guide?

Husband: Hey, do you want this portrait of your mother to hang straight or not?

Eight years ago, when we were finishing the second floor of my house with a gazillion sheets of drywall, I got a cordless drill for Christmas. When we were installing paneling in the basement, I bought an electric brad nailer. And they made all the difference in the world.

But more recently, I tried to convince my wife that I needed a random orbital sander to build a new table. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of actually finishing the table without it, so now I have to find another important project that calls for a sander.

Like stopping the toilet from running.

Of course, some tool nay-sayers — people who have a local handyman service on speed dial — claim that we'll never use half the tools we thought we needed. "When will you ever use that high-precision titanium wire stripper again?" they ask us. "And why on Earth do you need five hammers?"

Because we do. If you don't understand it, then don't question it.

Besides, each hammer has a useful, if not vital, role in construction. There's the 26-ounce framing hammer, the 20-ounce general purpose hammer, and the "other-26-ounce-framing-hammer-because-I-set-the-first-framing-hammer-out-of-reach" hammer. The other two are "hey-look-I-have-five-hammers" hammers. You can never have too many of those.

In many cultures, there are certain events in a boy's life that marks the time he becomes a man. In the United States, it's when he gets his first hammer. But, it's not until a man buys a second hammer that weighs nearly two pounds that he becomes a Guy. And once he begins that journey, there's no turning back. Tools will become the very lifeblood of his existence.

A well-prepared Guy will have every tool available -- plus the appropriate spares -- because we never know when we might need it. We buy spare drill bits, Phillips head driver bits, and circular saw blades. Our collection of extension cords could stretch from Chicago to Denver. If we could, we would even have spare garages because the first one is always getting loaded up with useless junk, like cars and Christmas decorations.

And even if the bits and blades get old and dull, we can't throw them away. They can always be sharpened again "someday." Besides, you never know when the other twelve saw blades will be destroyed by, say, a small meteor. So it's important to prepare for any emergency.

I realize the irony in all of this. We're the same Guys who couldn't organize our own lives enough to plan a date with the woman of our dreams. We couldn't commit to a relationship longer than the lifespan of a tsetse fly. But we buy tools and accessories to pass down to our grandchildren, even though our own children aren't out of diapers.

So, wives, please don't scoff at our need for tools, or our feeble attempts in convincing you that a pneumatic framing nailer is exactly what we need to tack down the spot in the linoleum that's curling up. Just pretend that we've actually convinced you occasionally.

Because the right tool would make sure the life-sized portrait of your mother didn't accidentally fall off the wall and into, say, the small gas-powered chipper-shredder we were forced to borrow from the neighbors.
Erik Deckers
(originally published week of September 26th, 2003)

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  1. I just read this outloud to my husband. Afterwards I said, "You do have 5 hammer syndrome."

    His reply?

    "I don't have 5 hammers."

  2. Yet. He doesn't have 5 hammers YET.

    I smell a birthday present!


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