Tuesday, June 11, 2013

adventures in drilling

hi there

i fear, if not suspect, that this could be an incredibly dull and boring post. sorry in advance if that indeed is proven to be the case. i am quite aware that i should be doing other things right now, in particular involving the rather large quantity of boxes i purchased yesterday, but i am just knackered. i am sat here with coffee, Marlboro, Led Zeppelin (who for some reason i am all of a sudden drawn to listening to) and indeed the will to tell of my latest exploits.

there's no easy way to put this - i recently broke the towel holder thing in our bathroom. i think, going on my purchasing adventures since, it is in fact in the trade called a "towel bar". i kind of grabbed it and it kind of snapped off at one end. here is the first of many pictures to illustrate this.

now, i know exactly what you are all thinking about the above, coming as it does not long after a Valentine card was received in our home. no, i did not grab it and snap it off in self-defence. no, it was not whilst i was using the bathroom at 3 in the morning with the door closed - it was early-ish Sunday and the door was open. and no, there was neither an athelte nor a firearm anywhere near me. it just kind of happened as i put a towel on the rack/bar.

a towel rack/bar is a most excellent way of keeping towels near a shower for the purposes of getting dry after a shower. this snapping or breaking was most unfortunate, then, and was something i needed to address.

the first major problem i faced was getting the broken bits off the wall. i am led to believe that messing around with screws and nails and things in tiles is a dangerous business. well, dangerous in as far as your average tile is prone to cracking - physically not spiritually - at just the hint of interference.

this would be somewhat difficult since, as you can see below, the thread in the head of the bottom screw had been subject to some apparent violence when put in.

that, reader, is a tricky thing to get out. if you can't get the screwdriver to "lock" on to that bit, you've had it. in particular if it's stuck in a wall plug (or anchor or socket, the plastic thingie some put around screws in walls), as was the case here. more on this part just now.

another problem, of course, was going to be finding a new towel rack/bar that looked exactly like the one that i snapped. i wanted identical for two reasons. first, as you can see below, the one end was rather unsnapped and thus i was going to save myself an awful lot of bother if i just put one new "arm" on the end that did snap. secondly, going on my adventures with toilet flushes (see posts earlier in the year), if i put a new looking towel rack/bar in our bathroom, then my (considerably) better half would no doubt have insisted i put the same in the other bathroom, so everything looked the same, nice nice.

it was with good fortune, then, that i found the exact same set as was in our bathroom already in one of the first stores i visited! it was the only one left, too. i really did only need that arm thingie to put on what was left of ours, but i bought the whole set. mostly, it has to be said, because that's how they sell them, just as the full set.

my major problem, then, was the damaged screw in the wall. i sought advice on the internet on how to remove it, and i did not like the advice i was given at all. they proposed i purchase all sorts of fancy "screw removal tools" which i had no interest in. the internet also suggested the somewhat advanced approach of simply smashing the tile in, digging out the screw from the wall, rebuilding the wall, replacing the tile and pretending that nothing was ever there. this last one appealed a bit, as it could have been a bit like that bit where Batman retrieved a bullet from The Joker out of a wall in The Dark Knight, but i suspect my (considerably) better half would not have seen it like that.

i was pretty sure that i could get the bastard thing out without either new tools (ahem, perhaps not as you will see) or without having Gary Oldman visit me and pretend he saw nothing as i put on a cape and mask and smashed the wall in, and so i had a go. this meant a welcome return of one of my most favourite things ever.

yes, my pliers. as you can see from the above, i have not had a great deal of use for them since i was instructed to get a proper handle on the window in my car. it is totally rubbish, by the way, winding a window up and down with a handle instead of using pliers to force the thing to do what you want. quicker, more efficient and less likely to break the window, yes, but total rubbish.

did the pliers get the screw out? partially. it got it some of the way out, but a barrier was that plastic plug or anchor thing the screw was encased in. i decided, despite what i said above, to get a minor new tool to see if that would help.

that, ladies and gentlemen, is a cripper or cripoon or crimper or something like that. i don't know, i threw the box out and cannot remember what it said. it looked like it was the right size to grab the screw with and yank it out, though. it looks and all sounds like it is something you are supposed to use with electric cables or similar, but it looked more to me like the sort of thing to do the job.

it did, i am happy to say, help a great deal. it got a fair bit of the screw out, and thus assisted the pliers with removing it. eventually, it was out far enough to batter it around a bit with a hammer, which saw most of the screw fall out of the wall and leave only an insignificant bit of the screw in the wall. the bastard thing it is.

before we go on with how i managed to get the little bit of screw remaining in the wall out, i am pretty sure you wish to see another picture of me using a pair of pliers as a needlessly complicated piece of smoking apparatus. here you go.

i, with some optimism, once again consulted the internet to see how best to rid myself of a troublesome, broken screw embedded in a wall. i expected to get more of this "just smash the wall in to get it out" business, but was pleasantly surprised to read the general advice. "just screw into the screw that's there to put your new one in" was the most frequent thing i read, and so i decided to give that a go.

this all struck me as being a bit William Tell or Robin Hood, really, smacking with a degree of precision a drill into the back end of a screw partially hidden in a wall. still, as the title of this blog posts suggests, i was keen to venture a go at this, and i had the tools too.

whereas i had the tools, i did and do not have any particularly great level of knowledge of what you are supposed to use to do what with. all the drill bits, as you can see, are the same but different to me, in particular with regards to shade and texture.

i would be sure that they seem to be made of different substances for the purposes of drilling different surfaces - wood, metal, brick, tiles, that sort of thing. i did not have a clue, however, which one was for which.

whilst out purchasing the new towel rack/bar/thing, i could not but help notice that drill bits of the same size and composition were sold in batches. this gave me a degree of confidence, as it happens. i have not yet, oddly, broken one of my drill bits (drillbits?), meaning that i must have been doing something right up to now, or otherwise if i did break a bit then clearly that was the way you were supposed to do it, hence buying ten or a dozen of the same thing at once being the way it is done.

shiny things always make things better, so i decided to have a crack first with one of the bigger shiny ones, hoping of course not to break the tile, fragile as it is supposed to be.

this section, by the way, is the part where i fear it may get all boring, if you are not bored already. just how exciting, after all, can a number of different drill bits be? this part is going to be nowhere near as exciting as the pictures of me with the pliers. don't say you haven't been warned.

the slightly big shiny one did OK, making a rather nice grating noise as it connected with the remnants of that utter, utter bastard of a broken screw stuck in the wall. it was not getting through much of it, though, at least not as quickly as one might have hoped. and by one i do mean me.

time then, to give another drill bit or drillbit a go. it's only fair all of my tools should have a fair chance to prove their worth, after all. i went with this one next. 

as you can see, this one has elements of shiny to it, but also some sort of darker element or aspect. is shiny or darker the better drill part to use for for walls or tiles and a screw stuck in it? i have no clue, or at least i had no clue. it was worth giving it a go, though.

i must say the go was well worth it. i am not exactly sure what the darker bits are, but i do know that they have some wild flint-like properties, as some ace smoke and the feint smell of burning came along as it did its thing.

as i stopped to clear the debris away, and yes to make sure that the whole wall wasn't on fire, i could see that this one was doing the job rather well, and in a time that i found most agreeable. on that front, i will happily confess that part of me wished i could be stood there still drilling away with this option. the "drrrrrr" noise it makes has a class bass feel to it, and there is something wonderful about all this smoke and sense of burning comes along. however, my (considerably) better half was around as i did this, and she seldom gets impressed by things like that, so i thought it best to stop. especially, as it happens, since everything was all but ready to put on the new handle thingie for the towel rack/bar/whatever.

as you can see, the evidence of the actual screws gone, leaving behind just two holes ready to get new plug or anchor things and screws. minimal damage too - in particular the title itself is not cracked or damaged beyond where the tile rack thingie arm thingie was put in the first place. ooh, Kashmir is on. not sure if this or Immigrant Song is my top Led Zep song, will be back in 8 or so minutes.

anyway, where was i? oh yes, tiles. they are nowhere near, it seems, as sensitive or as prone to breaking as i had been led to believe. reasonably sturdy would be my conclusion. i mean, sure, if you took a hammer to them the way that Robert De Niro took his boot to the heads of people that displeased him (unwisely displeased him, in retrospect) in GoodFellas, then yes i am pretty sure they would break. also, i didn't in the strictest sense drill into a tile from scratch - i worked on the holes already drilled. still, i may well have a go at drilling some more tiles, even if for no apparent reason beyond that i can.

the hole was not quite ready to accept the new plug thingie for the screw, so it was time to unleash another drill bit thing. i felt it only fair to allow the shiny ones out of my collection a chance to prove their worth, and so went for the Moby M-5 sized one from my collection.

a hell of a drill bit, that, isn't it? anyway, that cleared out the remainder of the hole and the broken bastard of a screw to let me continue on my merry way.

you may think that the tale is coming to an end around about now, but no it isn't. there's a slight twist, although happily it is not a crappy one like you'd find in a film from Mr "hey i have seen The Twilight Zone, i can pad a 20 minute episode out to two hours", M Night Shyamalan. it relates to encouraging the screws and the wall plug/socket/anchor things going all the way into the wall.

now, the advice i had seen all over the place is that one is supposed to hammer these things in. my view on that was no thanks. i suspect that the original bottom screw thingie was knacked in the first place by someone hammering it. there was also every chance that if i took a hammer to it, mindful of the De Niro reference above, i would end up smashing the tile, the new arm thingie for the towel rack/bar thingie, or indeed both. the head of a screw has a space for a screwdriver after all, so i thought it best to try and screw it in before grabbing my ace hammer.

the twist? well, neither the screwdriver bits on my class drill or indeed the most excellent elecrtic screwdriver that my mate Lance got me were of a shape or length that allowed one to use them on this particular job. the only way i was going to get this done the way i wished, i.e. hammer free, was by going old school.

yep, a trusty old regular screwdriver. kind of like the sponge and a rusty spanner sung of in that song by The Smiths, only featuring a screwdriver rather than a songe and a rusty spanner. i was aware that this was going to take a good deal of phsyical effort and force from me, the things being pretty tough to get in. and you would want them to be tough, too, for you want them to stay in and hold up whatever it is you are busy with.

how did i get on? you tell me!

voila! i am really rather chuffed that i managed to do this one! both James and my (considerably) better half suggested that i call the chap who did the oven (see recent-ish post) and other things, as he was and is rather good. it seemed, however, a reasonably basic job, and one that i could do without the cost of getting someone else to do it. the evidence, as far as i can tell or day say, seems to indicate that i was right to have a go at it!

here's one of them "arty" shots of the finished towel rack/bar thing, then. a bit like the ones my mate Steven Legget takes and posts at random, although his usually tend to be of mesh or mesh like things.

does it, erm, you know, does it work? well, i cannot for the life of me imagine why you would be interested in what sort of towels we have beyond showing you how the towel rack/bar thingie works, so to that end here's a look at the towel rack/bar thingie doing its thing.

i've just been to have a courtesy, curious look and yes, it still a few hours later looks exactly like you see above. unlikely, then, to break or fall off any time soon, i with confidence hope!

well, there you have it. that's why i am knackered. i suppose now that i've written this up i should really get on to other things. i will do so just now.

what will my next project be? no idea. bonus if it involves a drill and tiles, i suppose, but to be honest i would rather it wasn't repairing something. i don't have the best sense or skill when it comes to DIY, and i do think it's blind luck rather than talent that sees things like this work out OK for me!

if this has been of some sort of interest to you, nice one and many thanks indeed for reading!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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