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#a136 :: Metal shavings

June 29, 2008

ENLARGEBuy one large cantilever umbrella to keep the sun from killing you on the deck. Realize it’s too small. Buy two. Realize it would be nice to be able to shift them around the deck, to better block the coruscating sunset. Look for casters. Realize the umbrella stands’ feet aren’t fitted for them. Look for appropriate casters to bolt on. Realize none but the hugest, most cartoonishly oversized industrial casters would even fit, even if you drilled the umbrella stands’ feet …

Buy the casters you want. Find appropriate sheet metal. Realize that you’ll have to double it because single-thickness scrap aluminum kickplate is too thin to support the entire umbrella. Buy an inordinate number of bolt/nut/washer sets (32, to be precise). Realize you can bolt the mounting plates to the umbrella stands’ feet, but you’ll need different fasteners to mount the casters to the mounting plates. Buy self-drilling metal screws. Begin work – manufacture mounting plates by first attempting to cut the scrap aluminum kickplate with a Dremel. Realize that will take forever and you’ll go through a stupidly costly number of cutting discs. Switch to a hacksaw. Realize that will take forever, and the damn things aren’t cutting right. Think – “this is almost like cutting plexiglass” then score the scrap aluminum kickplate with a steel pocket knife, make a jig out of some old aluminum bar from that xylophone project, and bend the plate along the score lines until it snaps cleanly. Pat yourself on the back. Then realize the plates now have nasty jagged edges that must be buffed off. Buff them off. Then begin the laborious task of drilling holes for each of the plates and the umbrella stands’ feet (32 holes in all) and fasten them all together with the nuts and bolts. Then drill another 32 holes through the mounting plates, and screw the casters onto the bottom of the mounting plates. Then assemble the umbrellas, and roll them to and fro across the deck with what can only be described as a sense of élan. Realize it is now past midnight – on a Sunday night – and you’re tired. Go to bed too late. Again.

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