The Chainsaw Massacre

Header image: © Justin Smith / Wikimedia Commons, CC-By-SA-3.0

Today’s guest post is by Sherrilee

Two Sundays ago I finally pruned my big lilac bush.  It’s been 20+ years so it was definitely a job that needed the chainsaw.  It took a while to get all the branches small enough for the City of Minneapolis to take away so I had plenty of time to think about my chainsaw skills and history.

I moved into my current house a couple of decades ago, when I was still with my wasband. Among other things that we inherited with the house was a sick tree in the front yard. We had a couple of tree folks out to look at it and both had the same opinion; the tree had to go. While we paid for the tree professionals for their opinions, the wasband was not going to pay for someone to remove the old tree (his middle name should have been UberFrugal).  And I’ll admit, the do-it-yourself of the job appealed to me.


The new tree was delivered on a Saturday morning and we tromped down to Home Depot and purchased a chainsaw to do the job. Wasband had it “all worked out”; I would guide where the tree fell with a rope around the tree and he would do the sawing. Knowing what I know now about physics, I can’t believe this was the plan.

Just like a sit-com, the tree started to fall the wrong way.  Of course, it was much too heavy for me to guide and the rope went with the tree.  Wasband dropped the chain saw on the ground to try to help me.  He did manage to shove the tree in another direction from the house; instead it fell right on the chainsaw, splintering it into hundreds of plastic yellow pieces. It was almost as if the tree was saying “if I’m going, you’re going with me!”

So now the tree was down, but we still needed to cut it into smaller logs.  Back to Home Depot.  I’m sure that these days, after 9-1-1, someone would call Homeland Security about the couple buying a second chainsaw on the same day!

Have you ever had a DIY project go wrong?

63 thoughts on “The Chainsaw Massacre”

  1. Rise and Hack Away Baboons!

    Interesting picture of you VS–it just MIGHT have been photoshopped (is that a verb?).

    The ceramic tile adventure of 2000-2001 was doomed and relatively expensive. I have this character trait of “Just Try It” which people have told me they admire in me. Many times it works really well–in the garden, in the business, in childrearing.

    It did not work with ceramic tile. There was SO much I did not know. And it was NOT funny. So There.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are correct, J – the photo got a little touch-up, although not as nice a PhotoShop job as Dale usually does. I didn’t want to put a picture of wasband on the blog without his permission and I didn’t really want to contact him about it. So in my fantasy world, the job would have gone much better with Brad P anyway!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Fortunately I don’t do many DIY projects (the benefit of being a renter), and when I do they’re small, so any screwups can be lived with or quietly disposed of. Roommate and I once helped my ex-hippie friend retile around the tub, which would have been just fine except EHF forgot that the tiles with the little lip were meant to go on first, around the top edge of the tub. At least the only thing that’s hurt by our flub is my sense of aesthetics and proportion; the tile is still keeping the water out of the walls. If you squint really hard and tilt your head to the right angle, you could almost believe we meant to do that…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Let’s see – there was the wallpaper project in the no longer 90-degree square room (lessons learned: my quiet Lutheran father could swear a blue streak and never choose wallpaper with a definite up/down or side-to-side pattern for use in an old house), the attempt to repair the bathroom ceiling (don’t look if you ever come over…just don’t – it shows why I should never be allowed near drywall), a few “I hope the next owner of this place forgives me” repairs…and yeah, one Maple tree (like VS, cut down by Husband – thankfully in small chunks) that almost came down on a car.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I actually succeeded in felling a good-sized spruce in our backyard a few years ago, chainsaw, rope, and all. Both the chainsaw and the rope were unharmed.

    But, 4 times out of 5, a DIY project goes haywire. My two biggies were: One– changing my own oil but stripping the bolt from the bottom of the oil pan, resulting in a $50 “free” oil change. (almost 30 years ago, but it was a lot of money then)

    My other beaut was deciding to rotate my tires (on the same car, mind you). Once again, I managed to strip one of the lug nuts (because the previous rotation was done by a mechanic with a steroid-infused torque wrench.) In trying to loosen the tightest of the nuts, I actually lifted the front left corner of my Toyota Tercel OFF THE GROUND before the lug nut gave way and sheared off. That little money-saving project cost me $150.

    Over the years, I’ve developed a rule of principal or actuality or at least planning and preparation called The Rule of Seven: Estimate the time and money cost of a DIY project and multiply each of those numbers by seven. One of the two will hit at least seven times the original estimate. The tire change was a money Rule of Seven ($150 vs $0 is an infinite increase, right?)

    My latest Rule of Seven was replacing our garbage disposal a few years ago. Seems fairly simple, right? Plumbing is just pipes and connections and making sure all is water-tight. With my wife’s help, we figured it shouldn’t take more than an hour to do. HAH!

    Everything went swimmingly until it came time to make the final connection. We struggled and struggled trying to get the new disposal to fit at the gasket just below the drain. Tried and tried and tried and tried. Finally, after many many hours (seemed like seven, might have been five), in desperation we flip-flopped an O-ring that was part of the seal between the sink drain and the disposal. (Cue the forehead slap!) Thanks to the nearly indecipherable directions and illustrations that came with the disposal, that small change took care of the one-quarter inch shortfall we were trying to solve to successfully connect disposal and drain. Sheesh!

    I am now a confirmed NON-DIY guy. Other than mowing my lawn, shoveling snow, painting my interior rooms, and cleaning my gutters, I am more than happy to help support the local tradesmen and women of my fair community of Owatonna.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Husband is a maniac with a chainsaw; I think it’s a guy thing. As you may recall, we had recently had a couple of trees trimmed by “professionals.” Yesterday I overheard husband volunteering to help a friend who needs a large tree cut down. He told him “I’ve learned some rope tricks that’ll make it much easier.” He has learned some rope tricks by watching a crew of Mexican tree cutters saw off some admittedly large branches from our neighbor’s trees. Sheesh!

      He forgets that some years ago our vet was killed when he was taking down a couple of trees on property he owned. Crushed under a tree, and found dead by a neighbor who had gone looking for him.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Oh yeah…forgot about the time I decided I could rebuild a carburetor with very little car repair experience to speak of (none actually – just chutzpah and a Haynes manual). Got the thing taken out and pit back together without any extra parts, but did discover along the way that one piece was warped – which was likely part if my problem from the get go – and the screw I needed to adjust the gas and air mix was broken off and frozen in place. I tried running my poor little Honda on that sort-of rebuilt carburetor, but it died after about six blocks of putt putting along. Had it towed to the mechanics, who gave me props for the attempt…and then gave me a better/newer rebuilt part. Sigh. At least I can say I’ve done it…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Neither me nor my ex were raised by parents who were handy or inclined to be so, both raised in an urban area. So when we moved to a country home with one small building on it, we were faced with many home improvement projects….learning by doing, as it were. Things got done, but were not necessarily pretty. The one disaster that comes to mind was when he proceeded to put up sheet rock horizontally in a basement room. My brother-in-law who had volunteered to help and who had remodeled and renovated several homes suggested that they should be installed vertically. A heated argument ensued, brother-in-law quit and the job wasn’t finished until we hired a professional to undo and re-do.

    I currently have a horse nickering to her buddy who apparently has found her way out of the pasture (again). (She is informally known as “Houdini horse”) I must go find her….

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I also tend to stay away from most DIY projects, other than the little ones that are more like crafts. However, Jim likes to get his hands on some things, especially electronics, and take them apart or fix them. Unfortunately, he has absolutely no patience for the least little problem and my sweet, sensitive guy starts ranting, raving, yelling and swearing in the most awful way. I can’t even stand to be in the same room with him when I know he’s working on a project.

    When we had our house, he tried to redo the downstairs bathroom because the shower was leaking. We gutted it completely and even bought all new fixtures. It was never even close to completed. He just ran out of steam — we knew the house would foreclose and just didn’t feel like putting any more time or money into it.

    We’ve been cleaning our little townhome this past week or two to prepare for youngest son’s graduation party. Jim is finally parting with all this electronic junk he’s kept for DECADES. He’s spent an incredible amount of time taking apart all kinds of devices because he can get more money when he brings them in to be recycled. He’s out of work right now, so it’s a good use of his time at least.

    Lucas’ graduation party is Saturday, June 27 from 2 – 6pm at our place. If any of you would like to come, you are certainly welcome. Address is 101 Henry Road, Unit A in Big Lake, MN. Phone is seven-six-three, two-six-three-0011 if you need directions.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am usually very competent at assembling things so the failure with the fish tank stand was a real blow to my ego. I purchased the stand at Petsmart in Bismarck, and proceeded to follow the directions for assembly. I don’t know what the problem was but the particle board sides and top just wouldn’t fit together. Well, after becoming really frustrated I resorted to brute force with a rubber mallet. That didn’t work either, and I ended up taking out all the pent up frustrations I must have had for years and wacked and wacked until it was completely mangled. I felt strangle akin to Lizzie Borden. The product information stated that I should not return the stand to Petsmart but contact the company directly if I had problems with it. I just put it in the trash and went to the local pet store and bought a new fish tank with a preassembled solid wood stand.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I’ve told my most appropriate story before. There was a sturdy pipe sticking up in the middle of my backyard. I was afraid to touch it for decades. Then I learned it had been the base for the world’s largest martin house. There was no reason to leave it there.

    Because I had no tool remotely suitable, I went to a tool rental office and got some kind of pipe cutter. I flailed away with it for three long, sweaty hours, accomplishing nothing. The next day I returned the pipe cutter and came home with some impressive metal saw. It was no match for the pipe. A day later i returned the saw and got a big Stilson pipe wrench. By “big” I mean the pipe wrench was longer than a man’s leg. The pipe was not impressed. With the Stilson and every muscle in my body I could spin the pipe but not cut or move it.

    Back to the tool rental office. By this time I had a sort of dubious fame with the tool rental guys. They asked me if I’d mind them coming over after hours. Of course, I was thrilled! The best tool for any job is a big muscular guy who sees your project as a test of his manhood. I remember one of the tool guys saying in a John Wayne voice, “WE WANT TO SEE THIS PIPE!”

    Three of them came over after closing up the shop. They worked on it for a long time. My neighbor, a big Polish guy, then joined the crew. Another neighbor came over, but Donn mostly looked on because there wasn’t room around the pipe for another body. We finally got it cut. I never again took on a big DIY project.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It was martins, not martians, but the first owner of my home had a habit of overbuilding. The martin house he put up had enough room for half of St Paul’s martins, and it was so big people told him passing airplanes would hit it if he didn’t put lights on it.


  9. Great story, vs, and I love that “doctored” photo.

    There’s a saying that experience is something you get when you don’t listen to good advice; I might add to that, “and if you don’t read the instructions properly.”

    When you’ve done as many so-called home-improvement projects as husband and I have, you have learned a lot by experience. Sure, husband is a woodworker by trade, so he’s a pretty handy guy. However, he has a habit of tackling projects with a great deal of confidence and self-assurance even when he has only a vague idea of how to proceed, a lesson I’ve learned repeatedly.

    Take, for instance, the time we decided to do something about our old leaky windows. We replaced them with new Anderson windows which made the old hardware – I don’t remember what those heavy thingies inside the jambs are called – weights, maybe? – obsolete.

    At any rate, after removing them there was a fair amount of space on either side of the windows that needed to be filled with insulation. That’s where that handy dandy expanding foam came in. Husband had purchased two tubes of it, figuring that a tube per window should get the job done. He were surprised by the amount of foam needed for the first window, but kept injecting it. What he didn’t realize is that the foam continues to EXPAND for quite some time. Pretty soon expanding foam was oozing out from the top, bottom and sides, and let me tell you, that stuff is sticky, and damn near impossible to clean off when it hardens.

    No real damage was done, and no lasting effects remain to be seen, but if more is better, I’m sure we have some of the best insulated windows in town.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Some of these stories remind me of that stanza in Charlie Maguire’s song:

    I’ve got a power sander, a power saw, a power drill, and a whole lot more
    And every time I plug them in
    My electric meter starts to grin
    Sure saves me time though
    I can make twice as many mistakes!

    DIY is a very painful subject for me, so I will try to remember something that is more funny than painful. Will get back to you later.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. We’ve undertaken many projects. I would bet all of them have had some sort of ….’issue’.
    But never ones to admit defeat we just adjust and carry on! Why of course we meant it to look like that.
    I learned from a theater guy many years ago ‘Don’t do it half-assed’.
    I’ve kept that in mind as I work on things and while no one ever plans on doing something half way, sometimes they turn out that way (usually because I’m in a hurry) and I really have to decide; is there time to redo this? Does it really matter? Can anyone see it? Will Kelly see it?

    Our latest, the entryway / mudroom remodeling project (3 years and counting!) the only real issue is the floor is 1/4″ higher than it has to be. Not the end of the world (as long as you didn’t want a rug under the front door) but materials changed mid-stream and the entire process changed and it was too late to change everything so we had to go forward and adapt. Well, and some of the floor tile isn’t completely smooth at all the joints. But that was my fault and I’ll live with it until we redo it.
    And it’s *mostly* done; I need a couple pieces of baseboard trim yet (but they border another door and what happens with that door determines what the baseboard does) and a couple more pieces of barnboard closet doors — and that really is just me being lazy.
    All in all it’s turned out really nice.

    Quick, Fast, Cheap. Pick 2.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I grew up logging in the winter. I think every lumberjack has dropped a tree on their chainsaw one time or another.


    1. Doesn’t anyone have a picture of the chainsaw stuck in the tree at Steve’s?
      (No names to protect the guilty… 🙂 But we know who you were.)

      My dad drove a tractor over a chainsaw once; does that count?


      1. I wasn’t there, and I haven’t talked with anyone about it, but I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt who was involved.


      2. By the way a lumberjack works, you think a tree cannot land on a safe, but trees are uncooperative things, and people get stupid. A saw stuck in a tree is the result of poor planning so it only happens about 4 times a day.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. A neighbor lumberjack got angry at an old chainsaw that would not start and put a chain on it and dragged it behind his truck.


  13. I can think of a couple of a near miss or two. When the first limb of our huge box elder dropped, it was still partially attached, so Husband obviously had to chain-saw it (there IS no such thing as hiring a professional for this sort of thing. May have had to borrow b-I-l’s saw, but he was up on a ladder leaning out just a bit further… Top of ladder started to slide sideways, and he and the chain saw jumped to safety. I’m glad I wasn’t watching that.


  14. I know my limitations, therefore I only attempt projects I know I can complete. I thought I was pretty smart when I taught myself how to change the oil in my lawnmower. Now I need a new lawnmower.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Mostly things have gone okay, including the ceramic tile kitchen counter, the stained-and-finished kitchen cabinets, the wallpapering, window treatments, and the garbage disposal installation. I do have a counter in the pantry that had an unfortunate warp to it, so it has never been level. If you spill something on it, it will run down to the left edge. I knew when I was installing it that it wasn’t going to be level, but didn’t want to spend the time and money to go back to the lumberyard for a replacement piece, so made do.

    Still have all the fingers and toes intact. A few bruises but no broken bones. I am still on my first chainsaw, too.


  16. have i ever had a diy project go wrong.
    yes i have
    i have got a list of ones that went right and how quick summary would take a day or two with highlights of gold.
    my friend the plaster patcher and sheet rocker taught me how to flip a house when i was 18 or so and we did 4 or 5 and it was fun. i lost all fear of doing it wrong and learned to fake it and embrace alternative endings for my envisioned results.
    knocked a hole in a cinderblock walk out with a sledge hammer to make a couple of french doors the new deal. bathroom modifacations. lots of chain saw action and many stuck in trees. always someone else has the trouble but i amt there to foffer enciuragement.
    i am busy these days so i hope to get in early and willwhe i can but…..
    guest blogs are coming but posts that go with the day require days when i have an option of how and when to spend my time.
    i am kind of along for the ride and the blog is not the rides choice of things to do. floors walls ceilings roofing fences landscaping appliances and electronics plumbing swimming pools small engine repair car repair and a couple of other things. my kids cant believe i learned how to do all this crap along hte way. i cant believe they havnt. wennies are what we used to call em. today the world is a bunch of weenies. brakes and oil. axels and engines but i do congradulate vs on her gusto to go get the lilac trimmed.

    time for bed to dream of guest blog topics.
    here comes the next one. thanks for allowing us to continue dale with your guidance and assistance. vs is bulletproof. not so with me. but i ll try.


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