One Power Tool Closer to Independence

I don’t fit in. The town I live in is wealthy, but I grew up with self sufficiency and bargain hunting being the two holy grails of running a household regardless of gender. When the dryer broke Dad fixed it. When an electrical outlet wore out, Mom rewired it. As a 30-something homeowner with an overworked husband, household care and refurbishment is up to me. Most Eastside housewives drive SUV’s that would pay for a college education and if anything that might ruin their manicures needs to be done, a service person is hired to do it. Most of these visits are conducted with the immaculately coifed, designer dressed home maker peering uncomprehendingly over the shoulder of a service technician nodding as if they had the faintest idea regarding what they are being told.

I am blessed with many things, but an overabundance of cash doesn’t happen to be one of them at the moment. I am hosting a BBQ under my carport soon and need every table I can scrounge up. I borrowed a couple folding tables from a girlfriend of mine who does demolition contracting.

One folding table needed work. A blizzard of dirty-white 50 year old paint was peeling off the wooden top. Lead poisoning is generally not considered good form for hosting a meal. So I decided to sand off the flakes and reseal the surface with fresh paint.

I confidently got out my extension cord, dust mask and sander. I was working with a vintage Craftsman that had sat around my parent’s basement a couple decades. First the tension bolt was rusted in place. With the help of a retired engineer neighbor, a little oil and an Allen wrench later I had my first belt on. Belt sanders are supposed to “float” over the surface being sanded. That became apparent when I applied pressure and shredded my belt.

Despite my best efforts I could not secure a replacement belt on the sander. Careful inspection showed the front roller was crooked. Phone calls revealed all four mechanic men in my life were unavailable, so I headed to Sears. Two Sears employees were able to manhandle a new belt onto the sander but explained the mechanism that allowed the front roller to click backwards and forwards to install and secure fresh belts was broken. Being sales persons they told me it was cheaper to replace the sander than repair it.

Fortunately in this case it was, as there was a new in box sander on clearance for $29.99. New sander in hand I approached my table again. The belt that came with the sander fitted perfectly. The second stock replacement belt refused to stay put.

Half a dozen phone calls later, I figured Sears wasn’t answering their phone and headed back to the store, covered in sawdust from head to toe. I felt out of place in the gleaming showroom, but was determined somebody was going to show me how to use the wretched sander!

The sales guys gave me a tutorial and I learned how to adjust the tension on the belt to keep it in place. By now I had eaten through all my replacement belts and was obliged to buy more.

I managed to finish sanding the table to my satisfaction. It took four hours, 10 phone calls and two trips to Sears. I was frustrated, looked foolish and am now the owner of a new sander. Still, I consider it a morning well spent and am proud to be one power tool closer to independence.

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