Listening to all the stories from fellow pros, one nice thought comes to mind, and that is the tenacity and fearlessness we all share. I can only reference my own experiences, but I think you may have had similar reflections, as well.

When pressed to complete a contract, we routinely have to fight our way past Mr. Murphy—of Murphy’s Law fame. He’s a nasty fellow, and always throws a wrench into our business at precisely the right moment … and he never sleeps!

There are so many stories—literally at least one every job. They are all different but all similar. The never-give-up attitude, the pressing time constraints, the messed-up weather, the employees who don’t show up, the outrageous customer demands, broken tools, tools left at home, spilled stain on carpet ... all of it! You are all owed a salute with a 21-gun report and three F-18’s flying overhead with full afterburner at 75 feet over your heads.

Let me delve into the details.

As for me, last week my whole-house refinish was ready for the sealer coat, and I grabbed my mop and mop stick and headed into the home to coat. Then … I realized I did not have my T-bar. I walked back to my work truck to grab it and was puzzled why it wasn’t where I left it. I searched the truck from top to bottom and came to the ugly and silly realization that I did not have it with me! Now there’s a fork in the road and I have two choices:

1 - Go home and re-start tomorrow.

2 - Stay and figure out a solution.

I stayed.

I found a wooden 12-foot piece of 1-inch closet rod I keep on hand to plug large holes made from the cable installers. Sometimes also the holes are large knots or whatever. So, what to do with a piece of closet rod, a mop stick and a 2-inch drywall screw? This was literally all I had that was usable from the tool box. I ended up asking the neighbor if they had a cordless drill, and he let me use his. I drilled the drywall screw through the closet rod and into the end of the mop stick:

 

The 1-inch closet rod was too big for the applicator, but I did the best I could to make it work. It looks weird and was rudimentary, but it held the applicator on the mop stick. I didn’t have the ability to turn the corners, and it took twice as long, but I managed to get the sealer coat down, and I left for the day.

I won.

Another example was an experience I had and shared in a FB wood floor group. The home I was in was from the ’40s, and the fuse box (or circuit box) was barely useable. The breakers were tripping often—and stayed tripped. The breakers “broke” when they tripped. Circuit by circuit was tripping until I had no power in the house except for one outlet—the 220-volt outlet in the laundry room. Thank goodness the home had one! Not every home has a 220 outlet anymore. Well, thinking on my feet and not willing to postpone the job while the owners can retain an electrician to fix the fuse box, I became the proverbial “Mad Scientist” and fashioned a pretty nifty solution:

Not any different than any solution any one of you reading this would’ve done, though! I’m sure your stories are even better! (LOL)

I went to the Home Depot and bought some electrical components and made a pigtail that plugged into the 220 outlet in the laundry room. I separated the black and white wires (each 110 volts) and connected them to a single duplex outlet in a double-gang junction box. I had to extrapolate some high school electric theory to make this work, but it did! I had 2-duplex 110v outlets and enough amps to run the edger, palm sander and two vacuums with no trouble. My confidence with hooking up my big machine to the fuse box to get power aided my attempt at getting 110 volts from a 220-volt outlet. I finished the job I was on with the device I made with no issues, but I in no way would ever suggest anyone try to do that without the guidance of a license electrician. Be safe!

I finished the contract on time, and the homeowner fixed the circuit box after that.

In my next post I'll share a couple more of my favorite MacGyver moments. Feel free to share yours in the comments!


Angelo DeSanto is owner at Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based Dande West.