Tom Lavis Colulmnist Photo



I think it’s time for a clearance sale.

As I look around my basement, I see power tools that are used less and less each year.

I once was a human dynamo when it came to do-it-yourself projects.

Replace windows? No problem.

Need a deck? Build one.

Add a room? Draw up a plan.

The tool sale is a result of a small project I attempted last week.

“It has been three months since you said you were going to replace that piece of trim in the kitchen,” my wife said.

I have been too busy fishing to worry about something as trivial as the upkeep of the house.

That is what I thought, but I learned long ago to never say such things out loud.

Instead, I did what most men would do in this situation.

I stood up, looked her in the eye and said, “Yes dear.”

Who doesn’t love going through life without hitting speed bumps?

But it’s amazing how quickly things can happen to turn around and smack you in the face.

In my case, it turned out to be my chin.

My plan to satisfy my wife’s wish was to select a piece of oak trim that I had saved from a project 10 years ago.

Any man will tell you that disposing of any hardwood is a sacrilege. The word sacrilege is from the Latin meaning, “You’ll never know when you’ll need it.”

Men are notorious for squirreling away small pieces of maple, oak and cherry.

After my father’s death, we found scraps of black walnut hidden in a five-gallon bucket that was tucked away in the rafters of his garage.

His daughters’ reactions: “Why did he save that junk?”

His sons’ views: “Holy Hannah, it’s black walnut.”

I scanned my woodpile for the perfect piece of oak trim. For this job, I needed a piece about 10 inches in length.

Again, thinking to myself and not saying it out loud, I wanted to do this as quickly as possible so I could go upstairs to watch ESPN’s SportsCenter.

I took a measurement, marked the piece using a square and an authentic carpenter’s pencil given to me by a professional who did roof work for me. I set my table saw to the correct depth and angle of the cut.

Safety tip No. 1: When using a saw with a 10-inch blade sharp enough to slice through granite, always be sure that the blade guard is in place to protect against a kickback.

Safety tip No. 2: If the blade guard has been missing since the first two months you owned the saw, wear a football helmet, complete with a face guard.

As you have guessed, these tips come from years of learning the hard way.

As I began to feed my precious piece of oak into the teeth of the rotating blade, it was cutting like a hot knife through butter. Suddenly, without warning, the butter froze and the wood jammed.

I say without warning because faster than you could say, “I think I’m bleeding,” the chunk of oak came flying toward me at the speed of light and struck me on the chin.

My first thought was, “How much is my co-pay for a visit to the emergency room?”

Fortunately, the laceration wasn’t deep and required only 20 minutes of the “I told you a million times to be careful” lecture from my wife for being stupid.

If I sell the tools, I’ll put the money in a special account to hire only professionals to handle my tasks.

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