Saturday, December 16, 2017

One Way To Screw

When it comes to screwing, I like to stick with what works. The problem is there are way too many ways to do it.

It's just another sign I should have been born in the 19th century when life was simple and no one wore underpants and everybody screwed the same way. I've said it before. Too many choices do not make a person happier. Too many choices just make you feel like an idiot.

You start out with God's own screw, the slot-head, and  it makes perfect sense. No need to get all fancy. Then you run into your first Phillips screw and everything you thought you knew about the world flies out the window, but you adjust. You even get to like it. Your screwdriver doesn't slide around. You feel super competent. "What have we here?" you might say, calmly. "Why, it's a Phillips-head screw. I shall fetch my Phillips screwdriver." It's like you're in a special club.

But recently I needed a screw for something and I looked around the basement, which Dave has stocked with all sorts of metallic mystery items, and all I could find were screws that weren't slotted or Phillips, but had little asterisks in them instead, and I couldn't think of any reason that should be unless someone was deliberately trying to mess with me. Trick screws. There you are in the 19th century and you go to plink away at your parlor piano, and all of a sudden it won't work without the special mittens you don't have any of. Why? Why?

Righty tighty, lefty loosey. So far, at least, that's still universal. Those of us with sieves for brain-pans need a mnemonic like this. I use it every single time. Say I'm trying to screw in a screw and it won't bite: I wonder if I'm turning it correctly. Maybe it's backwards when I'm upside down, which I arguably am, from the standpoint of people in the contrary hemisphere. And because I have no ability to manipulate objects spatially in my head (this is why I still don't understand the phases of the moon), I have to actually act it out. I make a twiddly motion with my finger as though I am turning a screw and then stick my head under my hand and look up, and sure enough the screw is going left when I'm going right, so no wonder the sucker won't budge. It's just one of those things I'm not meant to understand, like how somewhere in the world it's yesterday, or like how toilets at the equator are too confused to flush. Righty tighty, I repeat to myself with conviction, and the screw still won't move, and then I start looking for nails and glue. Screw screws.

There have been screws since the Middle Ages. No one ever found any screwdrivers, but their existence was inferred from the presence of the screws. We still don't know where all the screwdrivers are. But the screws were simple slots.

I complain to Dave about his asterisk screws. There is bitterness in my voice.

Calm down. It's just a Torx screw. You need a different bit.

Where does this end?

There are hexagons and clutches and Robertson Square Sockets and Allens and fluted sockets and Frearsons and Pozidrivs and Bristol Splines and Tri-Wings and Thunderbolt Grease-Slappers and this, all of this, is clearly the work of hostile forces indifferent to my self-esteem or my desire to become a handy-citizen.

Calm down now. It's not always about you. Each of these has a perfectly good reason for existing.

Like what?

Like this one can be engaged at more frequent angles by the driver bit, and that one allows more torque to be applied before the screw cams out.

I suspect I'm being deliberately brainswoggled but after a while I'm able to accept that it is implausible there is a world-wide conspiracy to target my insecurities, and eventually I've recovered sufficiently to attempt to fix the coffeemaker. If it can't make coffee, it's just another big piece of plastic that's going to end up in an albatross some day. Fortunately, according to the Googles, it's a simple fix. The water tube needs to be cleaned out. You access it from the bottom. There will be two screws to undo and then it's all presto reamo.

The two screws are slotted-spanner tamper proof. We do not have a screwdriver to do a simple fix on a $20 coffeemaker. No one does. The manufacturers of coffee makers hate me, and also albatrosses.  Our screwdrivers are good for nothing.

Stabbing. They're good for stabbing.

53 comments:

  1. Oh, how I smiled and nodded in recognition on this matter. We have about ten bird houses that my husband built around our yard. Unfortunately, he didn't build them in a manner that makes it easy when it comes time to clean them in the late winter. Not only do you have to unscrew several screws to get the bottom off the box, but sometimes there are as many as three different types of screwheads on the same box! This makes the entire process take longer than necessary as he goes to hunt for the proper drill bit. I don't care what Dave says; I see no reason for all these different screwheads to exist except to screw with our heads.

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    1. That is insane. Dave made us a bird box that needs to be unscrewed also, and I was thinking about making the kind with a door you can just open. But now I'm counting my lucky star screws it only has one kind of screw in it.

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  2. My husband says that there are at least three different Phillips screws as well. But they aren't called Phillips, but they are the same sort of?
    Never mind... Now I'm confused.

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    1. More insanity. I've come to accept I'm incompetent. Seems unfair to be sabotaged also.

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  3. Oooh-- I hate those slotted spanners.
    (hope you've had some coffee now)

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    1. You've heard of them? WHY? WHY? WHY?

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    2. slotted spanner?? off to google I go.

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  4. AND the sizes and fits are different if made overseas and not in this country. Internationally, screwing is a very different fit.

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    1. I did a lot of it in London a long time ago but I don't remember much of it. That's probably more of a story than we need right now.

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  5. Since I'm in the building business I know about screwing. At least 95% of the screws I sell and use require a torx bit and I keep six different sizes of those on hand. Screwing just isn't as simple as it used to be, but it's a little more fun.

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  6. Sigh. And the other resident of the house screws the damn things so tight that even when I have got the right screwdriver I cannot remove them.

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    1. That's what makes you wonder if you're doing it the right way. Sigh.

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  7. And then there's the Allen wrench.

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    1. Oh Gawd, you just sent my mind back to the IKEA store, and it'll be a while before I can find my way out.

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  8. I hate Robertsons. And when I go down to the store to buy the precise measurement of screw I need, they always, only, have Robertsons. Don't tell me about Torx and the rest; I skipped that paragraph. I need to be able to sleep at night.

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    1. I don't know what a Robertson looks like so you're way ahead of me.

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  9. I have my very own screwdriver with six bits, plus a hammer, and if I can't fix something with those I bow out and leave the problem to my husband. I despise those things that can't even be opened up "just to have a look" much less repaired. So much plastic. It's a crime.

    Well said, Murr, and yet - still funny as heck :)

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    1. I'd spent a nice twenty minutes on line learning how to fix that dang coffeemaker too, and I'm not getting that time back.

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  10. Thank you for blowing the cover off of the Evil Screw Conspiracy. Our parents warned us about the Conspiracy of Creeping Socialism, but since that didn't work out, we now have the same kind of progressive complication with screwing. I long for the simple, care-free screwing of the 1970s.....

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    1. Preach it! But remember, I KNEW Jean and Herb, so I know you got warned about the creeping socialism, but back at George and Hazel's we WERE Communists. Did your mom know that?

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  11. I'm 83, but I remember when I was young enough to screw & be screwed....never mind; wrong subject!!

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    1. Oh heck no. It's all related. Many parallels.

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  12. Kyle blames it on the car manufacturers who want to build something that you have to bring in to the shop to fix. Unless you have a non-metric frangidangle to open it. After a while, the underground network of handy persons starts to get their own frangidangles and fixing their own thingies. Then the car companies have to come up with something else to force you to come to the shop rather than fix it yourself. The people's car (volkswagen) was not good aftersale marketing.

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    1. Oh cars have been unfixable since they got brains. BRAAAIIIIINNNS.

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    2. I want a frangidangle just so I can say I have one. “Oh, wait, let’s try my pink frangidangle—-“

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    3. You can't have just one. You have to get the whole dang set.

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  13. Don't forget to ask Dave how to use a screw extractor.

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    1. You're kidding me with this shit, right?

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    2. No, just set the drill to reverse and the screw gets undone, or unscrewed if you prefer.

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    3. Oh that. With a power drill. Of course sometimes it just gets stripped.

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  14. The only thing I ever learned, aside from righty-tighty, lefty-loosey, was hot water's on the left and shit flows downhill. Until I was taking a shower at my daughter's house and the hot was on the right. Gawd. My son-in-law fixed it though, bless him.

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    1. I hope you didn't have to take a dump over there.

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  15. With a bit of luck we'll all be dead when screws become computerised...

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  16. I have a screwdriver set that has eight straights and five philips heads in assorted lengths and widths, then six mini screwdrivers in straight and philips for things like sewing machines or spectacles I think, or maybe those teeny tiny screws in battery operated stuff. I also have a couple of dozen allen keys in assorted sizes. I've never seen a star screw or driver. I should probably get one of those just in case.

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    1. NO!! It will just attract more weird screws! Oh wait--are you one of those prepared people that I've always vowed to be friends with but not emulate?

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    2. That would be me. I have the bit for the square-holed screws, but it wasn't until I read these comments (and Googled) that I learned *those* are the Robertson screws.

      The screws for which I had to make a special screwdriver purchase are the Torx screws (the asterisks) with the extra post in the middle of the star. They defy the standard Torx (asterisk/star) screwdriver! You'll find those little monsters on household appliances.

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    3. Where do we buy Torx screwdrivers & do you know about a roundish screw? I've got one in my faucet & can't get it out to stop a leak! Thanks, sister(s)!

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    4. My favorite store (even more than fabric stores) is the big orange and white one (can we use brand names? It rhymes with Gnome Depot.) In the tool section, there should be several sets containing various sizes. There's also a small 8-bits-in-one set that I love! (Four double heads, one handle.) It takes care of the tiny torx that lurk about.

      My favorite method is to take a picture of the screw in question and show it to a store employee (the only feature, other than calling and texting, that I find nearly indispensable on my phone). They're always willing to help. "Roundish" is in the eye of the beholder.

      Good luck, and welcome to the Wench with a Wrench Club!

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    5. I'm just going to let cbott take over from now on. She's got a handle on the situation and probably several sizes of handle, too.

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  17. So timely. I had a carpenter here today and he was complaining about all the slotted screws in my 1912 house. He told me he had a favorite screw and I asked intelligently "the Canadian kind?" And he said no and showed me the asterisk head kind. Who knew? Is that a torq?
    Also, thanks for using inferred correctly. Very refreshing.

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    1. You can count on me usually. I come with an editor all built-in. And a fresh bag of commas she doesn't use.

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  18. 30 years ago a friend brought her car over to get a headlight changed --remember K-cars?-- and I, who'd rebuilt several VW engines, went out and saw a Torx screw for the 1st time. My take was the same as yours. Told her, I can't unscrew an asterisk. Fortunately she is British and just laughed. She and her American husband are still our friends. Am I making sense yet?

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    1. Oh heck dear, "unscrewing an asterisk" probably means something totally different in England. Remember when I told y'all I went to a hair stylist in London and said I didn't wanna shag and he asked me if I wanted a blow job and then we just stared at each other for a long time?

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  20. My spatial and engineering incompetence rivals yours but you've made it so engagingly endearing that I now feel merely flibbertygibbetts instead of just plain dumb. Oh, I had to look up the thing about toilets flushing at the equator. I learn so much here....

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    1. You might want to be careful about some of the things you learn here.

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  21. When I was in the 4th grade or there-abouts, I could not comprehend left and right. I mean they change. Our driveway is on the left if I'm going to school but it's on the right if I'm coming back. This baffled me. I'd look at my two hands and wonder. Finally I took a pen and wrote LEFT and RIGHT on the palms of my hands. The wrong ones. (Well, they were my hands.)

    My sister says, "I KNOW my left and right; I just mix the names up."

    So righty-tighty, lefty-loosey doesn't help me, because if it's rotating towards the right, on top, it's rotating towards the left at the bottom, at the exact same time. Right?

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    1. My sister-in-law didn't know her left from her right either. It must be a thing.

      Dave once informed a little boy he had his shoes on the wrong feet and the kid said "But these are the only feet I have!"

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  22. I did learn in the 4th grade, though, why the moon HAS to rotate exactly once on its axis in order to always have the same face towards earth, even though the earth is also rotating on its axis and shows the moon its hind part every day. Or every other day.

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    1. I learned that too, but it always seemed too perfect that they rotate so synchronizortedly. Like, shouldn't they get a LITTLE bit off?

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    2. probably they do and that's when we get tidal waves.

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