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The Eleventh Hole

Hello folks. This is Bob Whitten, coming to you from beautiful, sunny Thomson, Illinois.

I cut another hole in my house the other day. It is a big hole, and I’m pretty sure it’s in the right place, but you never know until everything is all back together. To date, I have cut eleven holes in our house, all for various reasons. I might add that five of the eleven holes were cut in the proper place on the first try. Five out of eleven isn’t too bad if you’re a baseball player. Five out of eleven isn’t such a great number if you’re a surgeon. It’s all relative.

My wife wanted a new doorway from the back room to the laundry room, and all she had to do was ask. She knew with just a mention of a new doorway I would be excited, and she was right. I put new blades in the saws, got out the level and the square, and set out the emergency first aid kit. After years of cutting holes, I have found that having band-aids and ointment close by saves precious moments later.

My wife normally is a very calm person, but when I start changing saw blades she starts getting nervous–  with just cause, I might add.

Over the years I have cut through water pipes, stink pipes, medicine cabinets, kitchen tables, dining room tables, porch railings, furnace ducts, and dozens of electrical wires, welding my saws to the wires, blowing breakers and sometimes sending a shock through my body. Once I was a conductor of errant electricity while she was hanging on to me as I cut through a wire. That’s a mistake she won’t make again. She’s a quick learner, I’ll give her that.

One time I bought a new drill bit just so I could cut too big of a hole in our new door. I had many different size drill bits, including the right one, but, for some reason I misread the directions and I thought I needed a bigger hole. That’s why I don’t read directions any more.

I used to send my wife on an errand while I made the critical cut on any project, but in recent years I’ve realized that every once in a while I need a voice of reason, although it would be nice if the voice came without sarcasm.

She didn’t get real jumpy this time until I took out the permanent marker and start drawing cut lines on the wall. “Do you really want to use a permanent marker?” she asked as I drew the first line. I replied with “It’s going to be a permanent cut, isn’t it?”

“What if you measured wrong and have to re-draw a mark?” she asked. “There are five colors in this marker box,” was my answer. That phrase would soon come back to haunt me.

I made the first mark parallel with the door molding, then we stood back to take a look. The mark seemed to be curving slightly away from the molding. “It must be an optical illusion,” I said as I re-measured my marks. Somehow I had missed my mark, and I would have to re-draw the line. I took out another marker from the box.

“Be careful, Bob, you’ve only got three colors left in your crayon box,” were the next words from my wife’s mouth. Ah, there it was, the sarcasm.

I re-measured and re-drew until the opening looked perfect, although somewhat resembling a rainbow. I got out the reciprocating saw, or as we call it in the carpentry trade, “the saws all”, because it saws all the things we need to saw. We carpenters are a simple bunch, choosing not to come up with big, fancy names for our tools.

I attached a brand new, bright yellow eight-inch combination blade to the end of the saws all, and I was ready to go. I put the blade in a small hole I had made in the wall, and I started cutting. A few seconds into the cut, the saw jerked back and almost came out of my grip. I pulled the blade out of the wall, and it was twisted and bent, so I did what any veteran carpenter would do: I laid the blade against a board, took out my hammer and gave the blade a few whacks until it was straight again. Well, it was kind of straight.

I started the saw again and suddenly there was a tapping on my shoulder. My finger came off the trigger. “Do you really expect to make a straight cut with that crooked blade?” she asked. “Maybe you have another blade, maybe a pretty green one that might work.” she added. I didn’t see that one coming.

I finished the cut and soon we had a doorway to the laundry room, complete with a pocket door that tucks into the wall. Well, technically, I still need to rebuild the wall, but the door works, and the hole is pretty much where I wanted it. I didn’t cut through any wires or anything. I did lose two screwdrivers and a pry bar through the hole I left in the floor, but I chose to leave them there, mostly because I would have to cut another hole in the wall to retrieve them. If you think about it, I am preserving history. In 200 years when they tear this house down, they will have good evidence as to the primitive tools that were used in our day.

As I drink my coffee this morning, I can’t help but wonder where the twelfth hole will be. Will it be a new window, maybe a door, or maybe an accidental hole? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, I will be excited when the time comes, that’s a given. It never gets old.

We’ll see you next week!

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