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“You gotta dance with the one who brung ya.” In polite society, probably. In building, better not. No matter what you take with you when you go to do a task you always need something you did not bring with you. Dancing with the ones you brung can spell disaster.

Over the past few days I have been retrofitting cabinets and putting up a tile back splash. I have also put drawer pulls and cabinet door knobs on multiple cabinets in my kitchen to be. It has been an opportunity to learn, a little painfully, about the consequences of trying to use what you have in your toolbox when you don’t have what you need.

I have put 17 drawer pulls and 18 knobs on cabinets the past few days. Some of them look like wood peckers installed them and others look fine. No matter how carefully I measured or how straight I placed a template I rarely got any two to align without tinkering. Along the way one of the things I discovered was that I did not own a drill bit large enough for the pulls.

Each time I drilled for a pull, which has two holes in which part of the pull attaches to a bolt from the other side, I was off. I used a template, I did not use a template, I used a homemade template and still, nothing fit. I would end up with the two ends of the handle that inserts into the drawer front so that only one of the two fit in with the other rocked to the side. I blamed myself for letting the drill slip toward the middle away from my mark. I blamed the template. I blamed the weather and I blamed the dog. Blame the drill bit. Who knew. I was reaming out the hole (carefully) and then thought to ask my contractor if he had a larger drill bit and on the first try the pull fit perfectly. Same with the knobs.

It never occurred to me that a pull commonly available would use a bit that was not in the common drill bit sets. I had two standard drill bit sets and when I used the largest bit in the set I had I made a mess.

The same thing happened with the cabinet I converted from doors to drawers. I had to drive four screws at angles to get the section that the drawer slides up to in place. I have a good drill and this time the bits were appropriate to the task. I carefully drilled my angled holes, selected the perfect length screw from my 13 x 15 inch Kobalt screw box and proceeded to install the cross pieces. As I affixed one side I heard that noise no one building something from wood wants to hear…..crack… I had driven the angled screw through the front of the cabinet frame. I had the wrong size screw. I rummaged through my big box of screws and nothing seemed like the right one. Using the wrong one had a bad consequence.

I sent my spouse to the store with the closest thing to what I needed. It was too short and it was too fat. I said, “I need one that is 1 1/4 inch long and skinnier than this one.” When he returned with a #6 screw to replace my #8, I had what I needed. Unfortunately I had tried to dance with the one who brung me and I split my cabinet. I was able to do a good repair on the cabinet and you cannot tell it split unless you look very closely.

I could go on. The bolts packaged with the knob and handle were either too short or too long or too fat or too thin to work. This spouse spending too long figuring out that nothing I had worked and that spouse riding to the rescue at the local hardware store to get what I needed. Twice he has lugged drawers into the store to make sure he got the right size bolt.

Which is my point. No matter what you have, it seems what you need is not there. This applies equally to screws and to tool bags. No matter which tool bags I pick up to do a job I always need something from one that is back in the other room.

Tonight I was washing the grout on my freshly laid tile and later putting the calk joints in. I had my bag for tile and I had my bag of glue, goo and cleaners. I should have had what I needed. I bent over and noticed that one of the cabinet doors did not have its door knob. Simple. I had taken a great box of pulls and knobs and dropped off the needed ones in each room residing in the cabinet to which it belonged. Perfectly organized. I leaned over to install the knob and discovered that there was no hole in the cabinet door. I went to the living room where my tools are neatly lined up on a tarp and got my drill-driver bag. I made sure my level was there to check the alignment of the knob with the one on the cabinet door beside it.

I crawled down on the floor with the drill, got my hole in correctly and reache for the knob. The bolts my spouse got for me were in the other room in my screw box. I went back to the living room to bring it in. I managed to get the knob properly installed and returned to my calking task. I had everything I needed, except for shop rags because I had just used the last one on the grout. Off to the living room to get a roll only to find that they were in the bedroom. I got the calk in, rather well, I might add, and got ready to clean up my mess. I reached in to my glue, goo and cleaners bag and my cleaner was not there. Back to the living room where it was sitting beside where the glue and goo bag had been a victim to too many potents and unguents to fit into the bag.

Finally everything was finished and clean. Then I got to thinking about how much running back and forth I had done. We have organized my tools so many times now I cannot think. The most effective organization was to pack my little tool bags by function and give them descriptive and funny names. I have my “sandy bag” filled with sandpaper and steel wool. I have my “screwy bag” filled with drills and drivers and punches and bits. I have my “tile bag” which has an ordinary name but is actually a “mod flower power” garden tote in acid green. And on it goes. When it is time to clean up and my spouse is so kind as to help, we talk to each other with straight faces saying things like, “This goes in your screwy bag, right?” several tool bags sitting on the floor togehter. Left to right, AWP canvas and black with drill-drivers and torpedo level, Kobalt screw box, Porter Cable box, red tool tote filled with calk, cleaning, glue, etc. and green and pink flowered bag with tile float and glove hanging out of one of its pockets

I am a sucker for tools that come with little bags. No matter how many of those bags I have it seems I always need one thing I don’t have. I have learned that when you are building stuff, tying to make do and “Dance with the one who brung you” can spell technical disaster.

I love my bags and when I set out to do a task I always take the ones I think I need. However, I am going to go to the living room and get the one I didn’t brung if I need something in it. If I have the right bag and something goes wrong, I can always blame the dog.