Thursday 16 September 2021

As Luck Would Have It

    The other day as part of my plumbing hell, I had to do a simple task:  Drill a one inch diameter hole through the wooden siding and floor joist header that sits on the foundation of my house.  I had to do this so I could install an outside faucet.  Before I started I carefully checked and measured where the spot should be from the inside and under my house so that I wouldn’t hit a floor joist.

    After measuring inside, I went out to measure and mark the same spot outside, then I began drilling.  I thought my old 1” drill bit was dull because it seemed to be drilling the hole very slowly.  I drilled and drilled and very slowly the hole started to hollow out.  I stopped several times to try to sharpen the drill bit with a file.  

    Then suddenly as I drilled, the bit started jumping around, something it shouldn’t be doing.  I persisted with the jumping bit, but seemed to be getting nowhere.  I couldn’t understand what was happening, so I withdrew the bit from the hole and looked inside.   As I studied the hole I finally realized what the problem was:  Beneath the cedar siding there was a nail that had been toed-in to the header right in the middle of where my drill bit was trying to go.  

    “Well that is just great,” I thought, realizing that my simple job had just become a lot more complicated.  I had already drilled the hole through the siding and I didn’t want to start a new one in a different location, so I somehow had to try to pull out the nail through the 1” hole that I had dug.

    I first tried a pair of pliers, but it wouldn’t go through the 1” hole,  the claw end of a hammer would also be too big, then I remember this old nail pulling tool I had with a narrow head, “Maybe that might work.”

    I had my fingers crossed all the way back to the shop hoping that it would be narrow enough to go into the hole and be able to grasp onto the nail.  The head of the nail had been worn off by the twirling drill bit.  

    The old nail puller did go into the hole and it was able to get a good grasp of the nail by me hammering other end of the puller with a hammer.  I had to do this, then pull, several times and slowly I was able to work the nail out.  (The photo shows the nail sticking out of the hole after I had worked it part of the way out.)

    I eventually did get the nail all the way out of the hole which allowed me to finish drilling the hole.

    Of all the places I could have drilled, it seemed amazing to me that I had picked the one place where there was a hidden nail.  I was sure lucky that I had an old obscure tool that was small enough to allow me to get into the hole and pull it out.  It was a very frustrating event, but it at least ended well.

    Here is a photo of my old tool which a friend has informed me is called a "Cat's Paw."

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