Not in My Skill Set

My kids are now old enough that they’ve basically grown out of their toys.  Right now, my basement has a large amount of Star Wars ships and figures, Lego bricks, dolls, and pretend kitchen gear that has not been touched in months if not years in some cases.  My goal for this Summer is to get these toys dealt with either by storing them, selling them, donating them, or outright throwing some away, if they’re no good anymore.

That is going to open up a fair amount of space in my basement, and I already have a plan for it.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to own an arcade cabinet.  Possibly a few.  While a real Tron or X-Men machine would be fantastic, I’ve learned that I could create my own, which would allow my machine to play literally hundreds of games.  And conveniently there are a couple of companies that sell arcade cabinets that come flat-packed like IKEA furniture.  That I can handle.  I have a PhD in building flat-packed furniture. 

But in talking to a friend of mine this week about my plan, he offered an alternative suggestion.  We could make the cabinet ourselves.  He’s recently acquired a number of woodworking tools,  and he already found arcade cabinet plans online.

This…concerns me. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate his enthusiasm and I’m grateful for his willingness to help out with this project, but owning tools and knowing how to use them are two different things.  My friend freely admits that he’s learning as he goes.  He’s currently trying to build a dining table.  I have no doubt that he will succeed.  He’s the kind of guy that takes on all kinds of projects and manages to knock them all out of the park.

No, the real issue is me. 

Power tools and I don’t get along.  Hell, tools in general and I don’t usually get along.  Unless it’s an allen wrench.  As I said, IKEA furniture is my domain.  Let me give you an example.

Several years ago, my then wife and I decided that we needed more storage space.  Her father and I set to work building a large shelving unit at the back of our garage.  Now this wasn’t a prefab kit or anything.  We took measurements, developed a plan, bought wood, cut it to length, and assembled it into shelving.    And by we, I mean he while I stood around and did what he told me.

Some that of that, though, involved using the large and various array of tools that my father-in-law had brought with him to complete the job.  For example, there was a…um…saw thing.  I don’t even know the proper words for these tools.  Basically you could lay a piece of wood or whatever else you were cutting on flat surface and then bring a spinning saw blade that was mounted on an arm down to slice it.  For the most part, it was easy work.  Make sure you position the wood in the right spot, lower the blade of doom, pull it back up.  The end.

That’s great and all until you’re done, you shut off the saw blade, and forget that it’s still up there slowing down but still really REALLY sharp.  I managed to get a nice cut on my finger from not paying attention to that minor detail.  That was pure carelessness on my part.

Then came the nail gun.  I’d never used one before, and, up until this particular moment, my father-in-law had handled all of the nail…gun…ning?  Whatever.  He’d used the thing.  But we were working on one section of the shelving, and I was at a better angle than he was to get this one spot.  He handed me the nail gun and braced the board for me.  I pressed the gun against the board at the right spot, disengaging the safety, and pulled the trigger.

I hadn’t expected the recoil.  I allowed the force to push the nail gun away from the board, so that instead of heading into the wood, the nail sailed just a bit off course…

…and straight through my father-in-law’s thumb.

Luckily, it just went through the meaty part at the top and completely missed the bone.

My father-in-law just looked at his thumb, which now had a nice nail running clean through it, made a sound along the lines of “Huh,” and then casually pulled the nail back out before wrapping his thumb in a rag and heading into the house to wash it off (This is why a good friend of mine has stated that my father-in-law cannot be killed by conventional weapons). 

I, meanwhile, was pretty damn close to fainting.  My father-in-law was fine.  Somehow he managed to patch up both the entry and exit wounds (duct tape was probably involved), and he didn’t even end up going to the doctor.  I think my recovery time from the incident was longer than his.

So, no, I will not be building my dream arcade cabinet myself.  Because, if I did, the blood, sweat, and tears poured into such a project would be dangerously literal.  Particularly the blood part.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter