Of Elbows and Sawdust

by Adam Slade

There used to be a very simple technique for fixing broken things in our house. On discovering the defective electrical item/piece of furniture/banana, one would turn to face the stairs and shout, "Dad!"

The man in question would then appear and grumble about said defective item, then mutter something about getting it fixed at some point, and how he'd 'told your mother it was cheap crap when she bought it'. Easy. There is nothing the man cannot fix. Cars, wiring, plumbing... I'm pretty sure he could perform open heart surgery with a length of used duct tape and a garden gnome.

For reasons irrelevant to my attempt at wittiness, the main repairman became persona non gratis at the Slade household, leaving all the repairs to my brother and I.


I know what you're thinking. "You, an author, gamer, and 180 pound weakling, no good with your hands?" Shocking but true. And I'm 186 pounds, thank you very much. Writing repair? Piece of cake. The kind of repair that involves grunting, swearing, and massive blood loss? The clue's in the usage of the term "massive blood loss."

The first major repair that required my manly (stop laughing) assistance was a door that needed hanging. My brother and I eyed the job, shrugged simultaneously, and told mum, "Yeah we'll give it a go."

The first problem came taking the old door off. You see, my brother and I have traits that don't really suit the removal of screws. Rick is as strong as an ox, but has the sweatiest palms known to man, meaning he can't grip screwdrivers. I have a grip like a steel trap, but absolutely no muscle anywhere on my body to back it up. The act of removing the old door and putting up the new one to 'see how it looks' took twenty minutes of Rick holding the weight while I forced my arm to develop something other than hair. Minutes after, we found a fully charged cordless screwdriver. Live and learn.

On standing back to admire our work, we noticed two problems. Firstly, the hole in the frame where the sticky-out bit of the handle goes (stop me if I get too technical) was in the wrong place, and secondly, the door didn't actually fit in the frame.

At this point my brother and I fell back on tried and true methods of problem solving. We flipped the kettle on and bemoaned our luck, then went in search of a hammer. Mid-swing at the door, Rick suggested that maybe we should try chiselling out the hole in the frame instead.

Part one dealt with, we stopped for yet another cuppa. We are English, after all. It's how labourers work over here.

While the hinges on the door were seated right, it stuck out a bit at the top. And by 'a bit', I mean half an inch. Rick retrieved the sandpaper and was gracious enough to let me do the work, since we only had the one face mask, and he had television to watch.

After five minutes, my hair and beard were the same colour as the door. As were the floor, wall, and dog. After fifteen minutes, I could taste wood.

Two hours of coughing and swearing later my elbow was a disaster area, but I was finished! The door swung open and closed like t'was guided by angels! Angels made of grease!

Mum appeared back from work a few hours later while I was nursing my defective limb. Her first words?

"Did you find the electric plane I bought?"


Shut up.

Adam is one of those weird people who write books. Doesn't he know there are thousands in the book shop? No assembly required or anything.

You can find him at http://about.me/adamslade, which contains links to all his other sites. You can also drop him an email at asladeauthor(AT)gmail(DOT)com.


  1. I love it when men try to play with tools :)

  2. Any project is worth trying, just have the number of a professional handy. You get points for trying.

  3. Are these points redeemable against anything? Bandages, maybe? :)


  4. Or in your case "mandages." Yes, I did just make that up. You're welcome.

  5. It's not really home improvement until we can call you Nine Fingered Adam.

  6. Stacey - I'm honoured that you consider me worthy of mandages. ;)

    Patti - *Makes note*

  7. Very funny. I wish I had the private cell phone number of Holmes on Homes for times like that.

  8. Adam, you'd fit right in at my house. It's a halfway house for gamers and geeks. Before my guys would start a project like that, they'd roll for luck and suffer a crititcal fail before they started!

  9. I have +10 to ineptitude. ;)


  10. ROFL, hilarious post! Thank you for making me feel better about my own, ahem, home improvement talents. You're much braver than me! I would have looked at the door and asked "How do you feel about beaded curtains?"

  11. Wish I'd thought of that... ;)

    Thanks, Beth! :D


  12. Those grease angels are key when it comes to home repair. Great post! I especially loved the "sticky-out bit" :)


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