Simon Harriyott

Everything looks easier than it really is

Last night my wife asked me to do a minor spot of DIY. This involved screwing a piece of wood to the bottom of the stairgate, so Emma, our ten-month-old, wouldn't crawl underneath it (the stairgate was originally fitted to defend against a toddler). I looked at the stairgate, and saw that there were already two screws on the bottom, holding the two sections of gate together. Easy. I'll unscrew those, put the piece of wood in place, and screw the screws in again. Once I'd marked and drilled the wood I realised that they weren't screws, they were bolts, but never mind, it would still work.

When putting the bolts back in, it transpired that they were measured to fit only the two sections of gate, and no extra wood, so they didn't actually meet in the middle any more. Oh well, it just needs a couple of holes drilled underneath the bolt holes, and I'll use screws to hold the wood in place.

Somehow, when putting in the second screw, the screw broke in half, flush with the wood. There was no way to get it back out, so I drilled a second hole. Whilst drilling, the bit broke, and got stuck in the hole, so I had to drill a third hole with a different size bit.

It's not pretty, but Emma can't crawl underneath. It took much longer than the 5 minutes Julia asked of me, but I'm not gifted in DIY. The whole episode reminded me of Eric Sink's Iceberg Sneak-In article, where a simple request for a new software feature turns out to be a whole lot more work than it appears.
26 September 2004