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DIY on the road

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Since I don't travel with a portable shop, woodworking away from home is difficult at best. But there are always compromises you can make.

Visiting my daughter in Connecticut, I didn't anticipate needing (or wanting) to do any woodworking -- my to-do list is filled nearly in its entirety with tasks revolving around playing with my new grandson. But necessity has a way of changing plans, and when I took one look at my daughter's computer chair I knew I had work to do.

It's an old wooden chair, and all four legs were loose. The rungs on one side had come out and were dangling beneath the chair. Worse, one rung hadn't come out cleanly, but had broken off raggedly at the leg mortise. I decided to dismantle all rungs and legs, then glue and reassemble it.

The contents of the small tool box I keep in the car aren't really geared toward chair repair, unfortunately. We're talking a pair of pliers, 6-in-1 screwdriver, an assortment of screws, tape measure, two tire gauges and a road flare. (Which, in spite of the fact that I've wanted to fire one of those up all my life, I couldn't justify using in this instance.)

The chair came apart easily enough, and I used a kitchen knife and the tip of that screwdriver to scrape away all the old glue. I hadn't thought I'd need the pliers, but they came in handy to get the top off the bottle of glue my daughter had. About 10 minutes' work and a few choice words later, the clogged and hardened cap finally came off. Getting it off totally mangled it, so this was likely to be that bottle of glue's final job.

One of those screws served as a glue applicator, and the handle of that 6-in-1 screwdriver made a fine little mallet to tap things into place. I had no clamps, of course, but a short length of rope from the car did the trick. Once tied in a loop around the leg sets, I used the shaft of that screwdriver to twist the rope and clamp everything into place till dry.

The best part of all this is that I had my grandson there as my cheering section. He wasn't much practical help, of course, but at that age he was fascinated with everything. He was delighted to watch me work, and I was delighted to have him as my working companion.

Of course, at only three months I doubt that he learned any woodworking by watching me, as he's just too young to absorb that sort of thing yet. Probably for the best. Were the opposite the case, he may have also picked up some new vocabulary.



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