MAGPIE TALES: The Plight of the Screw Head
"Watch what you're doing. You're wasting nails. Can't you even hit the head straight on?"
Though silenced more than 20 years ago, the voice of Clark's father managed to return at the most inopportune time and around the smallest object, even a nail. It was always there in his head, like the precise beat of a hammer on a nail head that Clark never could master. He knew it wasn't about strength but skill, the proper conveyance of weight.
Clang. Clang. Clang. The nails always bend and demured as if shamed by Clark's inept swing of the hammer head.
"See, now you're not only wasting nails, your wasting wood. Here let me look at that. All banged up with your pesky little taps. Let me show you how to do it right."
His father's hammer swung effortless on the nail head, each hit precisely matching nail and hammer heads like two rams crashing as one slowly was pounded into the ground. Clark tried to imitate the swing, holding his hand ever closer to the hammer head as his swings grew ever more inept and he pulled out the nail and threw it on the ground next to the others that looked like a swarm of metal commas.
"It's all about physics, letting the weight of the hammer head working with you not against you."
All these years later physics still left Clark feeling bereft. The mysterious swing of the hammer never making any sense to him and he preferred to fasten things with screws not nails. Years later, when curiosity prompted him to research the invention of the Phillips screw head, he was comforted by this explanation: "The importance of the crosshead screw design lies in its self-centering property." The words eased his mind until the voice of his father came back to him, "Can't you do anything right, you little self-centered screw head?"
Labels: Magpie Tales