Jim Hicks: Ice Fishing And Those Handy Power Tools

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By Jim Hicks, columnist

BUFFALO – If there has been any benefit to the sub-zero weather we enjoyed a while back, it has to be those little “fishing huts” starting to populate the ice on places like Lake DeSmet.

If you have never tried ice fishing, you might not understand why your neighbor does it nearly every weekend when he could be sitting in a warm living room, sipping a cool beer and watching a professional football game.

Sorry, but the Bench Sitters don’t have a good answer to that question.

But a couple of the old boys we know say they like the sport because they can get outside and commune with nature.  Not sure how freezing in a little canvas hut while staring at a hole in the ice qualifies. 

But most of them do enjoy fresh fish during the winter…and that is good for you.

Meanwhile back down on the Main Drag the other morning some of the discussion came around to what special presents a few of the boys had received for Christmas this year. 

The most common is a new power tool.

Everyone already has a bunch of them that have to be connected to a power outlet or have a small gasoline engine with a very touchy carburetor.

Now technology has brought us new high voltage batteries that can operate anything from a drill to a chain saw.

The Bench Sitters can remember the great development of the “Phillips” screw head that was such a wonderful advancement over the single slot that allowed them to jab a screw driver into their hands from time to time.

Now they have tossed all those in the trash can because “torx/star” screws are so much better.

But those battery operated tools made it possible for every amateur to mess things up by trying to do jobs better left to a professional.

This resulted in the Bench Sitters coming up with a few definitions for these tools.

Skill saw — A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

Belt-sander — An electric tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

Table saw — A large stationary power tool used to launch wood projectiles through sheet rock across the room.


Band saw – Another big stationary power saw primarily used to cut expensive wood into pieces small enough to fit in the trash bucket.

Phillips screw driver — Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening cans and splashing the contents on your shirt. Once used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

Leaf blower – An expensive reverse vacuum that will blow leaves around so they are more difficult to gather with a hand rake later in the day. Also can be used in an unsuccessful attempt to move snow while destroying your hearing.

Electric nail gun – A tool designed to do considerable bodily damage in the hands of a weekend carpenter. Equally dangerous as the one powered by compressed air.

Electric chain saw – A tool to create firewood and sometimes trips to the emergency room.  Not as powerful as those powered by gasoline engines, but become dull just as quickly after hitting a rock with the blade.

Reciprocating, circular, jig and other saws – Handy tools which can make nearly any small home repair project turn into a major remodel to be finished by professional craftsmen when they finally get time to put you on their schedule.

Portable angle grinder (our favorite) – a tool purchased to sharpen lawn mower blades. Only used once and then hung above the work bench forever.

We assume you have all the exterior Christmas decorations down, packed and stored by now. That the tree ornaments are all back in their boxes in the closet.  If not, you probably have more company than you might imagine.

Stay healthy and we’ll drop a line again next week.

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