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This is a question Cheap Tat

OneEyedMonster remindes us about the crap you can buy in pound shops: "Batteries that lasted about an hour and then died. A screwdriver with a loose handle so I couldn't turn the damn screw, and a tape measure which wasn't at all accurate."

Similarly, my neighbour bought a lawnmower from Argos that was so cheap the wheels didn't go round, it sort of skidded over the grass whilst gently back-combing it.

What's the cheapest, most useless crap you've bought?

(, Fri 4 Jan 2008, 7:26)
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This is kind of an anti-answer...
Back in 1988 we got our first house [only possible with my parents' help as it was a 2-bed terrace in Hounslow and cost a fortune: £77,000 - but that's a bit of a tangent]. With a house - especially one in an advanced state of disrepair - comes work. When skint, this work is necessarily self-inflicted; when married, it is to the man that the noisy/heavy work devolves.

Now, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a married woman in possession of a small house is in need of cushions...and shelving. Shelving to put cushions on and cushions to put on shelving; when the shelving is full of cushions, it is not time to get rid of cushions, it is time to put up more shelving. I needed a drill, and by lucky happenstance, my brother had a drill he was willing to give me. It was a bottom-of-the-range Black & Decker, features included: one speed, uni-directional, smooth/hammer action, short flex, turquoise coloured. It was small and light enough to hold easily in one hand but had grooves on it enabling easy two-handed action. But hey, it worked...in fact it worked hard and long and often.

For a while I trained and then worked as a cabinet maker. The drill got even more regular use, I learned to use it carefully, got the best from it.

We did the place up, sold it just as prices were falling and moved north. Bought another do-er up-er, got the drill out, more plugs, screws, planks, shelving. Did furniture design at uni, then got a job at one point as an odd-job man at a pub (have drill, will travel), we moved house again etc. etc. The poor old drill got more and more scratched up, I'd forget to change bits and forced the drill to make holes with blunt ones. Then after a while, there was no difference between the hammer action and the smooth - it was worn down to nothing. The motor would spark like crazy and smoke a bit when pushed. The plug got loose, bits would spin in the chuck and need re-tightening after a while - I'd lose bits in walls as they unscrewed themselves deep in cavities.

1998 - another house, more work. My tool box (well, three boxes really) resembled the back of a workman's van: bits of plumbing, electrical bits, gubbings from a washing machine, wire wool, clout nails, washers, wood stain, araldite, a candle stub, rawl plugs, 13 amp plugs, 2" sink plugs, allen keys, radiator keys, chuck keys, tenon saw, dovetail saw, mitre saw, keyhole saw, jigsaw, three hammers, two planes, four chisels, two bradawls, six screwdrivers, plane blades, old drill bits, jigsaw blades and about 850 different types of screw from 1/8 inch brass slot-head No.2s to 120mm No.12 cross-head super-screws. The old drill quietly celebrated its 10th birthday un-loved and neglected.

Finally - 2004, we're wandering around the DIY store when I see a new powerful drill. It has a variable speed, slow-start, dual action, reversable motor. It has a handle attachment so it's a bit like an AK-47, it's silver, it has it's own case and a very long lead. It comes with 20 drill bits - 10 for wood, 10 for masonary - did I mention it was silver? It's on special offer, reduced from £59.99 to just £29.99...it's nearly my birthday. My dear wife says: "Why don't you get it? That old drill of yours won't last much longer anyway." So I do, and I take the old drill to the dump - carefully place it down in the metal/electrical trailer, give it one last pat and walk away.

And do you know what? I don't like the new one much; it's too heavy, it's too big to get into awkward places, the flex gets tangled, it's hard work and difficult to get it to go back into it's smart carry-case. I miss that old drill - cheap tat though it was.
(, Mon 7 Jan 2008, 15:41, 5 replies)
Somehow, that story makes me feel sad, but at the same time pleased for the plucky little drill that could!

*clicks and double clicks*
(, Mon 7 Jan 2008, 16:04, closed)
a lesson to be learned...
never, ever throw anything away.
(, Mon 7 Jan 2008, 18:30, closed)
Oh Che
How we've missed you!
(, Mon 7 Jan 2008, 18:53, closed)
Thanks guys...
...and I'm just warming up!!
(, Tue 8 Jan 2008, 11:44, closed)
You have a marvellous way with words, sir. Marvellous.

(, Tue 8 Jan 2008, 16:58, closed)

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