Easy fixes for some household annoyances

The pine kitchen table was getting more rickety by the day. And understandably so. The six-foot workhorse had been through a lot over the years: thousands of meals, hundreds of homework assignments, numerous bill paying sessions, a million cups of coffee and six moves through three states.

Come to think of it, I'm a little worse for wear myself.

Each time the table moved, she was taken apart and put back together, until her legs were as wobbly as a new foal's.

At dinner, someone would cut a piece of chicken, and the whole table would rock until we felt as if we were on a roiling sea. And squeak. The table sounded like a choir of church mice.

A sturdy table seems to me basic to a good life, like a rainproof roof, solid ground and a loyal dog. A wobbly table shakes your faith in the world, and undermines whatever stability you've convinced yourself you have.

Although a day didn't go by that I didn't complain about this rocky table, fixing it was out of my skill set. Sure, I had crawled underneath with my pink and purple tool set, and tried to tighten things up, but the table still rocked like a bed in a cheap motel.

Like so many annoyances in life, the wobbly table became one more nuisance I just put up with. But I swore to myself: Next time I move, I'm making darn sure that table gets put back together tight and right.

Moving day came and so did my well-timed encounter with an all-star fix-it guy.

Chris Tice, of Orlando, is an electrical engineer by trade, and a home improvement blogger for Examiner.com. He's making appearances next month at the Orlando Home Show, where he will teach average DIYers how to construct cool home improvements on a budget (an outdoor shower, a space-saving built-in desk with shelves, and more).

Oh, he can also fix a Disney roller coaster, which is his day job, and really does make him a superhero.

I asked Tice if my job was too small. He showed up in a small car with a big toolbox.

Since my new house came with a kitchen table, I decided to use the old pine piece as a desk. I had the perfect place, a small room off my master that overlooks the street, which I planned to turn into a writing nest.

Tice looked at the disassembled table and spotted the problem. The table legs were attached to the table by a large screw that passed through a metal bracket. Time and use had caused the screw to make the bracket hole larger, the way a finger works a hole in a pocket. The screw had also lost its once tight grip where it sank into the wood.

Two washers (one lock washer for tension and one plain) set between each screw and bracket, and some glue on the screws would tighten things right up, Tice said. Then, in 15 minutes, he ended five years of aggravation.

We turned the table over. I gave it a test shake. It didn't budge. I clapped and sprang up and down on my toes, then asked if he would help me move the piece into my study.

That's when I learned that tape measures lie.

"You sure it fits?" he asked.

"Yes. I measured."

Soon we were stuck wrestling a too-big table in a too-small room, trying not to scuff the walls, flipping and turning the table until … CRACK.

It's a sickening sound, the sound of a breaking leg.

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