Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Am a Tool (modifier)

In my spare time, which I have so much of, I redo furniture. This is my latest completed project, WyoBaby's vanity. Only took me a year to finish it - record time!

On a side note, I feel that since WyoBaby is thirteen (and very good at it), I should probably drop the 'baby' title. How about WyoGirl? Yes, I like it. WyoGirl. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, furniture.

My latest project is a desk to match WyoGirl's vanity. I've only had it for a year as well, so just the fact that I'm starting to work on it puts me light years ahead of my established schedule. No wonder I'm tired.

So, the first step with these old pieces is to sand all the yucky grime and old stain off them. I like to use J's Milwaukee random orbit palm sander. I like to use J's power tools for all my projects because A: I can't afford my own and B: He knows how to fix them when I 'accidentally break them'. This sucker works like a charm. Well, almost. See, this is an older model, and its sanding pad works with adhesion. All the newer models work with hook and loop (read Velcro) to attach the sanding discs. The problem with the sticky stuff is that it loses its stickiness almost immediately after you start to sand because, ya know, dust. Dust is death to stickiness. Fortunately, they sell a handy dandy conversion disc you can stick to the not-so-sticky sanding pad to make it a hook and loop system. This works great for about thirty seconds, and then, well, read above. Dust. Dust is the enemy of stickiness, right?

I like Home Depot. That place carries just about everything I need to be dangerous. And that's right where I went to fetch my adapter disc and the multi-pack of sanding discs. I needed the multi-pack because the vanity needed some Bondo to fill in missing veneer, and that stuff, aside from stinking to high heaven, needs the 80 grit treatment. More on Bondo in another post...I paid for my weapons and left Home Depot feeling quite impressed with myself. I like the fact that I can do most of this stuff without J's help. Mostly because I enjoy the sense of self-sufficiency it gives me, but also because J tends to make me crazy with suggestions when he helps me. I love the man, but it is what it is. He's a problem solver, and he solves problems I don't even have. I know, it's in his DNA, and I appreciate it, just not when I'm being a furniture renovation goddess. Goddesses don't need no stinkin' suggestions.

Fast forward to our backyard, me in a respirator and safety glasses, with the iPhone (I hate my iPhone so much, by the way) and earbuds providing both musical motivation and ear protection, and sander in hand. I was ready to do battle. Little did I know the battle it would be. Away I went.

All was perfect for the first five minutes, until I noticed the Milwaukee was struggling. It was leaving strange marks in the wood and was definitely not sanding anything. Turns out, the adapter disc had been thrown clear. Where, I couldn't tell. I searched all over the backyard and eventually found it a good twenty feet away from where I'd been working. Oh well, reattach and back to work, goddess. The next two times it happened, the thing hit me in the chest. At a high rate of speed. Hello! I eventually got it to launch across the street and land in the neighbor's yard. We're talking World Record distances. There's got to be a category for this, right? The stickiness of the adapter disc had failed, shockingly enough. Who knew? So, every time I turned on the sander, that baby launched itself to points unknown. Clearly this wasn't going to work. What to do? Back to Home Depot! Muster the troops, aka WyoGirl. I wasn't going in without backup.

We walked into Home Depot like we knew what we were doing, because we did. I made a beeline for what I needed. And then my confidence balloon began a slow leak. They had replacement sanding pads, that you put directly on the sander, but none were the Milwaukee brand. Also? There are both 3- and 4-screw hole pads. Good God. Super. What a treat. Home Depot carries every other Milwaukee power tool, EXCEPT the random orbit sander. Of course. I couldn't use one of their sanders to determine which one I needed. And the sanders they do carry didn't help, because they were evenly divided between 3- and 4-hole setups. Which group of tortuous minds came up with this idea?! As WyoGirl and I stood there, trying to make sense of it all, inspiration struck. The internet! You can find everything on the internet! I had WyoGirl pull up images of Milwaukee sanders so I could decipher which kind we needed. We were scrolling through and comparing images to the choices we had on hand, when a helpful Home Depot Associate walked up and asked if we needed help.

I'm guessing he figured we had not a single clue what we were doing. I told him what we were doing, trying to decide which part we needed, but that we couldn't tell from the products in the store, because they don't carry said sander, and so now we were trying to search images to see if that might help us, and blah blah blah. He mumbled something about not having that sander in the store and he didn't know and blah blah blah and then just walked away. Walked away. No, 'sorry I can't help you', or 'I'll see if I can find out'. Nothing. I do believe my crazy ramblings scared that poor man and gave him pause regarding his choice of occupation.

Lacking sufficient evidence to make a definite choice, I decided to just take my chances. I bought the 4-hole setup. And I told WyoGirl, 'Watch. This is going to be the wrong one. But if I buy the other one, it'll be the wrong one. I can't win! And I refuse to buy both. I don't know why, but I do. We're outta here.'

When we pulled up to the house, I said to WyoGirl, 'You go check if this is the right part. I'm not even going to bother getting out or turning off the engine, because I'm 99.9% confident a return trip to Home Depot is in our immediate future.'

She came back to the car with the biggest grin on her face. A grin that told me we were headed back to the Depot. I told her to grab the sander, because we still had two products to choose from, and I'd be damned if I was making a THIRD TRIP to that place in one day.

Sander in hand, we compared the two candidates, and selected the one that looked like it was a match. Looked like. As I walked up to the customer service desk, sander, previous purchase, new part and four drawer pulls in hand, the delightful lady said, 'Oh, hardware return? (She thought I had an issue with the sander. We all know I did, but none one she was qualified to treat.) I'll have to get someone else over here to help you.'


I'm reasonably confident this is not the first sander-wielding crazy lady she'd dealt with. Maybe not even the first one that day. She was careful not to make any sudden movements or really say much at all. Transaction finished, I stormed out of Home Desperate, WyoGirl in tow.

Eager to get the sanding show on the road, I approached the replacement with renewed energy. Imagine my excitement when I discovered that the new pad didn't fit. You want to know by how much it didn't fit? Less than a millimeter. A FRIGGIN' MILLIMETER. Good news for my sanity. The next hour was spent trying to modify the replacement pad by drilling new screw holes. With J's Milwaukee cordless drill. The drill and I are tight. I can change bits with the grace of a quick draw sharp shooter. Try saying that five times fast.

My efforts were peppered with colorful language and deep breaths, along with requests that WyoGirl kindly not cause the table I was using to wiggle. Here's a fun fact about orbital sanders: they orbit. Always. I couldn't find any mechanism to lock the sanding head in place, so I was trying to retrofit the new pad to the sanding head while it was moving. Fun fun fun. Why don't I just shoot myself in the foot and call it a day?

Two hours later, I had the new pad on the sander, and was ready to begin again. Things went well for the first two minutes. Then, the sander started making a funny sound. And sort of stopped sanding. It wouldn't spin right when I put it on the drawer front and turned it on, but as soon as I took it off the drawer, it would work like a charm. Fortunately for my sanity and WyoGirl's tender ears, a thunderstorm began, preventing me from attacking the sander situation further. I packed it all inside, put it away, and walked away. That was two days ago. It rained all that day and the next, but today, the sun is shining, and it's time to get back to work. Pray for me. And the Milwaukee tool family. And the poor hard working associates at Hell Depot.

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