A Love Letter to Bosch, M-Power & Wolfcraft

Bosch 18-volt drill

I’ve been rushing to get a project done; it damn near killed me. It is thanks to a Bosch drill, the M-Power MERCPro bevel-edged chisel (sans replaceable chisel tip), and a Wolfcraft lock installation kit that is no longer made, that I’m not in the hospital – or dead. I will never again make fun of that chisel (though I do think learning to sharpen rather than replacing a chisel tip is the more enduring path to chisel success).

Late last Friday after the work day was over (read: there was no one else left at the office), I was in the shop trying to get a few more steps done on a project before heading home.  While I always have a bit of trepidation about using machinery when there’s no one around to hear a scream, I needed to glue up a 1-1/2″-thick countertop from four pieces of plywood that I’d cut to size at lunchtime. So at this point, it was just a lot of glue, some sticks of wood, and some clamps. What could possibly go wrong?

I ran out of clamps. No – that’s not what went wrong. I simply went to our storeroom to grab more (we have a lot of clamps).

That storeroom has a metal fire door with a thumb-turn button on the shop side and a key slot on the storeroom side (no key). There is no other way in or out of that room. No windows. No other door. I’ve mentioned several times to the building manager over the last two years that the handle set should be non-locking, because I’ve a long-standing fear of someone getting locked in.

That someone was me.

I always confirm that the button is in the unlocked position before I go in there – always, apparently, except last Friday evening (unless someone came in the shop and locked me in – but as paranoid as I might sometimes be, I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen).

popwood storeroom

The storeroom holds tools we’ve not yet tested, tools we bought and tested long ago, tools we pull out only when needed, projects/project pieces and other assorted items. It is not usually this messy; I did that.

I’d left my phone on my bench. I may never let go of my phone again.

It was probably 5:30 p.m. by this time; no one would be in again until Monday morning. I’d had nothing to drink for at least a few hours (and of course, no water in hand). The room was in the high 80s, with 90 degree+ weather projected for the weekend. The roof is metal; the walls are cinderblock; there is no HVAC; there is no fire alarm. I had to get out.

I’d like to say I did it with a stick of chewing gum and a hairpin. But I don’t chew gum or use hairpins.

After succumbing to a few moments of abject panic, I started tearing apart boxes to see what was on hand – my first thought was a recip saw. No joy – and no other saw suitable to the task (I do like both the band saws pictured above, but when it comes to breaking out of a room, they’re useless). I considered a plunge router and a big-ass bit. I dug up a router and a big-ass bit, but could find no extension cord (probably for the best on that one…what can I say – I was desperate). I tried a lot of things. And succumbed to a few more moments of panic.

Then, in the deepest recesses of a disused cabinet, I found an old Wolfcraft hole saw kit. Promising. Now for a drill…

On one storeroom shelf, we have at a couple of drills with no batteries, lots of batteries with no drills, drills and batteries but no charger (they may or may not work), and several drills and batteries that are altogether non-functional. I do not know why we have any of those still – but I can tell you it’s damn depressing to encounter them in such a situation. But finally I opened a dark blue container and cried (really) with burgeoning hope: a Bosch “Brute Tough” drill with two batteries (one charged!) and a charger.

It was hard work of about 45 minutes, but it worked. The twist bit in the hole saw kit wasn’t long enough to span the door thickness with the steel saw blades in place, so I took them off, and drilled a series of holes just above the door handle.* The MERCPro chisel shaft served to pound through the bits of metal left between, using a length of pipe as a hammer (I can’t believe there are no hammers in the storeroom).

Some not pretty drilling. And I could not care less.

Some not-pretty drilling. And I could not care less.

I was then able to reach through the hole with end of a narrow bar clamp (yes, the very clamps I went in there to get), and push down the handle on the other side enough to escape.

By that time, my first glue-up was dry – so I used the F-style clamps from that one for the second glue-up (after the shaking stopped and I’d downed a liter of water). No way was I going back into that storeroom to pick up that box of bar clamps.

But I reserved one clamp for the door; I’m not letting it close again until that handle is gone.


* On Monday, the building manager said I should have drilled out the lock instead of “ruining the door.” Maybe – but I don’t know if that bit could handle it – and after one hole, I knew it could handle drilling through the door. The building manager can bite me.



About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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39 Responses to A Love Letter to Bosch, M-Power & Wolfcraft

  1. Ugh! That sounds awful; congratulations on your quick thinking!

  2. Deniseg says:

    Holy …… First the bats and now this. You need a long vacation on a beach with umbrella drinks served continuously.

  3. tombuhl says:

    Adventures with Fitz. Love the story and am very glad you did not have to live in the box until Monday.

  4. @TheRainford says:

    That stinks, glad you made it out safely. Drilling out a lock even with the correct bits and drill is still a lot of work/time consuming — even more so on a commercial door and knob like that. I know this from painful experience.
    They really should have had something like a crash bar on the interior. 😦

  5. I had a similar situation once. I was crashing at someone else’s place for a night and in the morning their bathroom door knob stopped working. It was a super cheap plastic door knob without a lock built into it. The thing wore out on them. So they were yelling at me to help, which is lucky because i was there, so i came running. Saw the issue and broke the handle off the door with a hammer i had to find (wish i could say that i karate kicked it). I will never use a cheap door handle from now on though. Don’t want to be in that situation. I think what i learn from both situations is choose the right door lock and knob combo. If all else fails always keep a tool box in every room with lots of random tools.

  6. In my experience, building managers see functionality and safety through a completely different set of safety glasses than the rest of the world. Glad you got out.

  7. miathet says:

    So would “Danger Prone Daphne” apply to you life right now? Just Saying 🙂

  8. J.C. says:

    Bravo, woman! I’d feel safe with you anywhere. Being I’m claustrophobic. And that does not mean fear of Santa Claus.

  9. I think that’s an OSHA violation. It’s also the stupidest misuse of a lock that I’ve ever seen – it’s on backwards. It looks like you could remove the lock set, put on a piece of sheet steel and salvage the door. Then install the lock the correct way out and put a telephone extension in that room. I’m glad that it turned out so well for you.

  10. Wow, that’s scary! I’m glad you found a way to escape. Also glad that JJ, Viola, and Possum didn’t have to wonder where the heck you were and why you weren’t home to feed them.

  11. heidtwd says:

    And to the Building Manager I would say, “I guess you had to be there to understand.”

  12. Russell Pitner says:

    Ms McGuiver at her best! In the military vernacular “Ya done good, babes!” Sorry for your ordeal, but you of all people has the gumption to figure a way to overcome problem situations.

  13. Joe M says:

    It is without question a violation of building codes and OSHA regulations…and the building manager should know it. A room whith no exit can not, repeat can not have a locking door with out a “panic release” either in the form of a panic bar, a self release mech. or a lock/handle that can unlocked from inside by just turning/twisting. The door/lock must be able to be released/opened/unlocked from the inside without a tool,or key. What if there was a fire? Electric out? Tell the building manager to properly repair the lock or he will be reported to the authorities…sounds harsh, in-sensitive or “picky” but people have died because of this. I understand you are writing this post for entertainment and to spread knowledge….but this could have been bad…You did good! kept your head, and thought your way out. Now finish it and check other doors /rooms for the same hazard and get them fixed!

  14. erikhinkston says:

    I feel the same fear every time I enter our warehouse freezer, although does have one of those panic release mechanisms mentioned above but it still gives me the Willys when the door swings behind me.

  15. Coisas EM'adeira says:

    MacGyver is back!!! 🙂

  16. nbreidinger says:

    My response to the building manager would be “Or you could’ve fixed this very problem I brought to your attention two years ago and saved the door and a lawsuit.” In the future, if it’s not a steel frame you can usually jam a pry bar in and twist (using a lever if need be) to distort the frame around the door enough to slip the latch past the housing (one of many firefighter’s breaching techniques.) Good thinking – not sure I would’ve though to do what you did!

  17. Mike Siemsen says:

    Went in there for a bit of Amontillado?

  18. dan says:

    the building manager is an idiot. normally he should have you pay for the door that you destroyed for no good reason. you would have survived through the weekend. and would have learned a new skill – drinking your own urine. not to mention losing a couple of pounds as well. geez…

  19. Wow. That’s a crazy story. Please don’t top it. Glad you’re ok.

  20. johncashman73 says:

    Any man with dirty pants on sitting on the bunks spends a night in the box. Any man don’t bring back his empty pop bottle spends a night in the box. Any man loud talking spends a night in the box. 

  21. Anthony Kennesy says:

    Well done my dear!

  22. Norman Reid says:

    Did you reserve the movie rights to this one? I think Jodie Foster made a nice haul on Panic Room.

  23. jetzombie says:

    For want of a nail….
    Great story!

  24. Ann says:

    Interesting that the installer of that door handle, felt the stored stuff might try and escape but wasn’t the least worried that humans would enter the room at will. Curious mindset!

    So not only was the building manager ok with the dangerous lock set up, but thinks the door is ruined? Has he not heard of Bondo, sandpaper and paint? Possibly there are better people available for his job!

    What a scary way to end a day!

  25. You Rock Fitz , Good Thinking ! ! !
    People Above Are Right ! ! !
    It’s As Absurd As A Bank Locking Their From The Inside,
    And Leave The Outside Unlocked. !
    What An Aqamaroon ! 😥

  26. SSteve says:

    I read this last night and couldn’t stop thinking about it all day today. Who on earth installs a death trap door handle like that? Someone on drugs? A sociopath? Obviously not someone who gave a single thought to what they were doing. That building manager is lucky you didn’t take a drill to *him* when you saw him. And that you’re not a litigious person.

  27. Pingback: Make a Long Plywood Countertop | RUN 4 BEST OF WOOD

  28. Krafty Fix says:

    Oh dear, glad you got out ok! Glad to hear the drill saved the day!

  29. So, I just came across this and I want to say, you are bad. ass. This wins the damn internet for me today.

  30. agnesandpark says:

    What a nightmare! I lost feeling in my hands just reading this and can’t imagine what my physical and mental state would have been to actually be there.

  31. claydeforge says:

    I’m guessing you used the f word as well as the f clamps.

  32. dtugboat says:

    Glad you are safe and out of that locker. Now did you stay sober all weekend?

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