The Saga of the Industrial Sander

Further to our post from yesterday, our renovations will forever be linked to the story about the saga of the industrial sander. I covered it in this column in the Kitchener Post:

Surviving a potential do-it-yourself disaster

Industrial sander bares its teeth in home reno project, says James Bow

We've been renovating our house this past month. I'm saying this because we are both proud, exhausted and kind of surprised.

Have you ever seen those do-it-yourself reality shows on HGTV, possibly entitled DIY Disaster? That's the one where camera crews trawl the parking lots of local hardware stores, looking for the unlikeliest couples hauling out the largest power equipment.

That may describe our relationship when it comes to tools. To start with, we have to find them.

I'm sure that half of the time spent doing handyman tasks around the house is wasted trying to find where we've placed a particular screwdriver, a particular bit or a particular power tool. I've no idea where our jigsaw has gone. Only large items like a mitre saw or a table saw have proven difficult to lose.

We now possess multiple ratcheting screwdrivers and tape measures because we've found it easier to buy new rather than hunt for the old. I wonder how many hardware stores are in business thanks to our absent mindedness.

In our most recent renovation, however, we made use of two services in the city to give us the tools we needed.

Recently, the Kitchener-Waterloo Library of Things opened its doors. Located at 91 Moore Ave. and open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, this community-run resource is a lending library for all manner of tools and devices. Need a wet saw? Want to borrow a chocolate fountain? A year membership costs just $40, and you can borrow up to 10 items each week.

We borrowed two pairs of knee pads and a circular saw, which saved us money and storage space in our home. We would have borrowed a pry-bar, but these are among the items on their wish list (donations are gratefully accepted). I expect to be using this service a lot these next few months.

For bigger items, we had to rent tools at a large hardware store in a nearby power centre. And, there, we may have been a little unwise.

We wanted to scrape carpet glue off of a concrete floor, and the scrapers we had on hand weren't cutting it. So, we decided that something more industrially-scaled was necessary.

When you think of an industrial sander, you think of a mechanical sander only bigger. I was expecting to deal with a large disk of sandpaper. What I got was a spinning wheel of razor blades.

Looking at this device, I wondered what part of it held the sander in place and kept it from careening off out the door and down the street terrorizing the squirrels. I soon realized that the particular part was actually yours truly, and that, in this, the design was highly optimistic.

To our credit, after 15 minutes, we did get most of the carpet glue off the floor. After several near-misses, and some weird accident that snapped the spinning disk and sent razor blades in all directions, we decided we needed to return the industrial sander to the hardware store.

The attendant on duty said, "Well, at least you got damage insurance," accepted our return and kept a straight face until we were just out the door. We only think we heard them laughing from the parking lot.

So far, we've installed cabinets, sinks and counter tops. We've laid down flooring. I am pleased to say that our marriage has withstood these famous tests of character.

But I also have to say that these accomplishments feel far better having been done, than doing them.

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