Sunday, December 27, 2009

Two Degrees

Who would have thought that two little degrees could make such a big difference?

My son Ben chose the day after Christmas to begin a big remodel of his garage. The first project was to build a tool bench. He had found the plans for one he liked. Researched the materials he would need. Even watched a video online of someone building the exact bench. Ben decided that having an extra pair of hands would be a big help, so he figured he'd take advantage of the fact that we were already in Charlotte for the holiday by putting me to work. I don't do these kinds of projects on my own, but I'll gladly lend a hand when needed.

Still building his own tool collection, there was a framing nail gun that we needed to rent for the day. Then it was on to Lowes to purchase the necessary materials, including a box of about 3 million 3" framing nails. (I think they're only sold by the million!) We brought everything home, built a couple of portable workbenches to use as sawhorses, and then got busy cutting the 2X4's into the various lengths we needed. Once that was complete, it was time to fire up the nail gun. And that's where things came to a quick halt.

Instead of driving the nails all the way in, the gun left them about a half inch out, and bent over at the top. Not good. We determined, in our infinite wisdom, that it must be that the air compressor Ben got for Christmas was not quite powerful enough for 3" framing nails. Off we went to borrow a slightly larger compressor from one of Ben's buddies. Brought it home. Fired it up. Same result! Nails were still not penetrating their full length, and they were bent over at the top. Left up to me, I would have thrown in the towel at this point. I have no creativity when it comes to troubleshooting mechanical things, and thus very little patience when things don't work right. Ben, on the other hand, IS creative, and seems to have a double measure of patience when working with his hands.

Early in the process, one of us noticed that the nailer said it took 30 degree nails. We happened to look at the box of a million nails and it said they were 28 degree nails. We paused for a minute, but then decided that two degrees shouldn't make that big a difference. If they were the wrong nails, I thought, then they wouldn't fit in the nailer. This one simple oversight cost us several trips around town, a bit of frustration, and a lot of time spent Googling to find out what might be wrong.

As it turns out, two degrees makes all the difference! When we rented the nailer, it had a couple dozen nails still in it, which we proceeded to remove, in favor of loading it up with the new nails we just bought. Late in the evening, as a last resort, Ben decided to empty the nailer and put back the nails that were in it when we picked it up. And of course, that did the trick! The nails drove perfectly, and both air compressors worked just fine.

Who would have known that two degrees could make the difference! I mean, the nails looked pretty much exactly the same! The good thing is that we enjoyed working together, even as we had to put our heads together to figure out the problem. But we learned a lesson. The details are important, even when they seem insignificant! I'll have to remember that whenever I'm tempted to rush through something without giving my full attention to the details.

In the meantime, does anyone want to buy a box of a bazillion 3" framing nails? I'll bet Ben will give you a bargain. Oh...and make sure you need the 28 degree ones!

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