A bit of fruitful construction last year led to the replacement of old deck railing and addition of a line of 2×6 along the base to make the framework of the deck less visible. Not much has happened since then as I waited for the boards to weather before adding paint. In the meantime, the bottom boards around the deck had gaps that needed to be closed up. A simple concept, though execution proved to be difficult. At first, at least.
I unscrewed the lower boards from the deck, fiddled around with some hand clamps, adjusted, re-adjusted, reattached the boards, detached the boards, muttered to myself, reattached the boards, and stood back to see that little progress had been made despite the half-hour or so of effort. In the first few minutes of this bit of futility, my neighbor offer a pipe clamp to help out. I politely declined, thanked him, and then went back to my bout of inefficiency. What was a pipe clamp anyway? It could not be *that* helpful. Still, my curiosity was piqued and back I went to take up his offer.
The design is simple enough. Two pieces slide over a piece of pipe. One piece adjusts up and down to hold on to the surface to be compressed, wedging itself into the bar when force is applied. The second piece includes a screw that drives itself toward the other end to squeeze them together, hence the clamping effect.
Here it is in action:
This beautiful tool saved my afternoon and allowed to make short work of what was turning into a rather daunting task. It even straightened out a warped section of board that would otherwise still be there. It also served as a humble reminder of how little I know about these tricks of the trade. Like so many challenges and tasks we are faced with, the vast majority have been solved and done so in elegant fashion. It often takes asking the right question or having the right person see what your problem is. The trick is figuring out what question to ask or finding that expert. How do you do that?
That is a good question.