Stoopid tools

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While working on the high tunnel a couple of weeks ago, I vowed to write a post on tools. The impetus? Yet another sub-par Canadian Tire special doing its best to thwart my progress.

Dad and I were trying to attach the polyethylene-wrapped 1X2 to the base of the .75” schedule 40 galvanized posts (which also had 1.25” sched 40 PVC around it). So, wood, plastic, steel. Through that we would turn a single 2” #12 wood screw. Doing this required first drilling a hole through the whole material sandwich.

Out came my Mastercrap Titanium drill bits. Fail. Bit broken off in the steel. New bit from 50-pack of assorted replacements. Fail. Fail. Success! Fail. Fail. FAIL!

So we headed over to Windsor, which has a very passable tool department, considering the size of the population it serves. Maybe because people expect things to be more expensive here, many of the tools and supplies tend to be just a little better than the average. Not to say that they don’t also sell junk. Just that their junk isn’t all that much less than the good stuff, so may as well get the good stuff.

For the price of half a jumbo pack of Crappy Tire’s drill bits, I bought a single cobalt-tipped bit. And while I was lamenting our struggle to the helpful staff, Ken suggested that we go super slow with the drill. I said we were using a slow (but powerful) .5” drill. He said ‘Make sure you can see the bit turning’.

We got back and tried the new hardware and technique out. Success! Still not easy, but very do-able. The old half inch drill only has one speed, 600 rpm, so I just pulsed it, maybe once every 3 or 4 seconds. Then I put in one of my old bits and used the super slow technique, just to see whether the technique alone was key. Still not much luck getting through but I didn’t break the bit.

Needless to say, the old bits will be relegated to drilling wood and plastic. On the other hand, that probably just makes life more complicated. I might just give them away, after I find a multi-size assortment of the good ones to replace them with.

So it is in this second week of February 2011 that I vow to be MUCH more selective in anything I buy from Canadian Tire and its ilk. When I go to Vancouver Island next week to pick up a bunch of stuff, I will be exchanging my Mastercraft 7 amp corded drill for a new one, for the second time (it’s bad if you can smell burning when you pull the trigger, right?). If I could exchange it for something else – like something that was supposed to only be used once … I wonder if they sell Motomaster toilet paper – I would. I may also try to take back a router bit set that I bought a couple of years ago but still haven’t used. You know, not having a router and all.

* * *

In other news, we must have gotten a pretty fierce wind the night of the 6th. Not only were both of the low tunnel poly covers blown off but there was lots of unfastened farm supply strewn about. Most disconcerting was the farm stand which appeared to have been blown over backwards. Fortunately it sustained only minor damage; a cracked cedar post; a portion of its tin roofing bent. And, best of all, the newly constructed high tunnel was unfazed. Now I can hope for the other big test: a big dump of wet snow. Don’t tell any of my co-islanders I said that.

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