10 July 2011

Drills ’n’ spills and bellyaches


Holes ∕ Interiors

“A bad workman always blames his tools.” This godawful piece of advice, gleaned at an early age and never questioned, has been central to the formation of my belief that the walls of Berlin’s apartments are undrillable, and therefore, shittyfuckingwalls, built by halfwits and unfit for shelves. Judging by years of grim empirical research with a 500W Black & Decker, I had come to the conclusion that Berlin’s Gründerzeit walls are a random patchwork of materials with densities ranging from granite-like impermeability to shortbread-like porosity: you just don’t know what you’re going to hit. The drill either lunges forward and your entire lower arm disappears into a chalky cavity, or the machine emits a tortured howl and skids around on the surface. More often than not, the former follows the latter, and you weep until next morning.

Flacid: the Black & Decker KR 500 CRE Pansy Pants

After a recent drilling session ended in the usual fit of foaming-mouthed rage, I decided to blame to the tool and get my hands on something a bit more pro, just out of curiosity. The guy at the counter of my local DIY store did a lousy job of hiding a knowing smirk when I told him I’d been using a Black & Decker, which I’d admittedly bought out of a vague sense of patriotism a few years ago. Like a kindly doctor he gently recommended an 800W Bosch GBH 3-28 DFR. “A completely different quality of drilling,” he noted. “Like the difference between a rocket and a ”¦”, and then after some careful consideration, “”¦ and a tennis ball”.

Thrilling drilling: the Bosch GBH 3-28 DFR God of Thunder

Doctor Drill was right: a bit of Bosch GBH was exactly what was needed. The drill bit melted into the wall like the proverbial hot knife through butter, and once the six holes were done (which took little more than two minutes) I seriously started wondering if I shouldn’t just carry on, and drill a few more holes for the future. You never know when you might need a good hole.

I have since reflected that a country’s tools must surely be a reflection of the substances they are required to work. A hole in the wall of a Victorian terraced house in England may require nothing more than a domestic-grade Black & Decker tennis ball. But before an Ø8mm wall plug can be sunk into the fired ceramic bricks of a Berlin Altbau, some serious Stuttgart-made shit must be wielded. It’s a simplistic and worringly nationalistic reading of the situation, and doesn’t take Black & Decker’s entire product range into account nor the international market in which Bosch operates, but I’m a convert all the same. I now Know. The bad workman always blames his tools. Maybe so, but a good workman is also able to pass informed, if frothing-mouthed, judgment on ones felt to be woefully inadequate.