Every man needs a vice

Now that’s a vice

 

We moved into our new home a little more than six years ago. Even though it was considerably larger than the town house we were moving from, somehow all the furniture and other bits and pieces didn’t fit. So where did we store the overflow? Yes, the garage.

In the advertisement it was laughingly called a two-car garage, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago, after a concerted joint effort by our entire family to rationalize its contents, that we were able to see some parts of the garage floor. By spending hundreds of dollars on a shelving system and rearranging the cardboard boxes into taller stacks I was finally able to squeeze the old ute (that’s what we call a pickup truck here) into a narrow space on one side. Opening the door to get out of the ute was tricky, but I still felt a minor sense of victory: mind over matter.

Carlo loading the ute with stuff to take to their new home.

The old Holden Rodeo ute

Since then we’ve been keeping it under control and I’ve mostly been able to get the ute in, even if it meant storing some of the garage contents in the ute itself.

But I kept having this dream; I could see a corner of the garage with space for a workbench; I could see an area of floor in front of the bench large enough to swing a hammer.

So two weeks ago I made a last ditch effort to further rationalize the STUFF. I bought some plastic storage bins because they can be stacked higher than cardboard boxes. I started moving everything closer and higher to optimize space, but I didn’t seem to be making much headway.

With my spirits flagging, I unexpectedly came across a long-lost folding ping-pong table. I cleaned off the rat poo, cobwebs, spiders and dust and it looked like it might be usable, if only there was just a little more space. That was just the incentive I needed, and with renewed vigour I pressed on.

By the beginning of last week I had won! There was space for a workbench and (if I moved the ute out) space for the ping-pong table.

Now all I needed was the workbench. But I’d spent my budget on storage systems and there was nothing left for the bench. Looking around, I found some 4″ x 4″ timber left over from the demolition of the old pergola; that I could use for legs. There was also some landscaping surplus – 8″ x 2″ timber slabs; they would be the bench top. In a drawer I hadn’t been able to get to for years I found a collection of coach bolts. I was on the home stretch and went to work sawing, sanding, drilling, screwing and hammering.

Two days and several beers later it was finished, and it looked great. Heavy? Yes. A little over-engineered? Perhaps. But unbreakable! It will certainly see me out. The male heirs can fight over it.

In the failing light of the winter’s afternoon I stood back to admire it. Then I realised something was missing. What I really needed was a vice to go on the bench, so a quick trip to the hardware shop was called for. Arriving in the tool department, my eyes went straight to a very heavy dark-blue 4″ engineers vice. Sure, there were cheaper shoddy ones, but this was a thing of beauty, lovingly made by children in China, and I still had some headroom on the credit card. So I got the sales assistant to help be lift it onto the trolley, paid for it, somehow got it onto the ute without popping the hernia, and got it home and bolted to the bench. (Might have time for back x-rays next week.)

Over budget? Well… yes. Pleased with myself? DEFINITELY!

Now I can start building something. But wait a minute – my old circular saw is stuffed. Where are those ute keys? If I hurry I might just catch the hardware shop before it closes.

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