The Mysterious Tool For Cutting Metal


The home renovations are continuing, but are showing signs of wrapping up. Erin, the kids, Rosemarie and I have all been hard at work dealing with laying down new flooring in the dining room, painting the lower rooms, the whole works. One complication has been the stairs that dominate this split level. They’re pretty much raw wood, and not particularly good wood. How do we get the flooring to meet the stairs and look like a finished product?

So I went down to Home Depot yesterday and looked at some stair-nosing. Our first attempt using a metal stair-nose made to look like wood didn’t work as the part that folds over the front of the top of the stairs wasn’t long enough. Longer versions tended to be bare metal affairs and, incidentally, came in lengths of twelve feet. Well, despite being bare metal, they didn’t look too bad. But how was I going to carry a twelve-foot-long strip of bare metal home?

I asked the lady working the carpet department if they could cut this stair-nosing to size. She looked at the metal bracket dubiously and said, “I think, maybe, the guys at Tool Rental could do it, if you asked them nicely.”

I frowned at that, but I said, “Okay”. So, the next day, I went and bought the stair-nose (aluminum and, as I said, twelve feet long). So, I’m carrying this long piece of metal and I happen to pass the Cutting Area. I see all sorts of machines and sawdust everywhere. I approach one of the orange-aproned guys manning the machines and ask, “can you cut these for me?”

“Oh, nonono,” he said, laughing. “They keep us wood-cutting guys away from the metal.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Try the guys at tool rental. They can do it.”

So, I head to tool rental, expecting to see welding torches and crazy, extreme-looking guys.

I got some old fogey who came over and looked at me inquisitively.

“Can you cut this into thirty-four inch strips?” I asked.

He looked at the metal. Measured off thirty-four inch increments, and then took the metal to a back room, and closed the door very mysteriously. Was the special, ear-grinding machine that would cut my stair-nose to the right length in there?

And creeping up and listening close to said door, I heard the “schoof-schoof-schoof!” of a hacksaw, and the clatter of metal falling to the floor.

Five minutes later, he came out and handed me my stair-noses, all in the right length.

He didn’t even charge me.

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