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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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Mysterious Disappearing Clamps

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

My spouse has absolutely no interest in my shop… zero… nada…

Her disinterest is not all bad. I get a lot of solitude and she rarely questions any tool purchase (since she rarely knows). I have tried to get her to visit the shop, but she is perfectly content to enjoy the things I make, occasionally watch one of my videos, or suggest something I should make for someone as a gift; but to actually visit the shop is nowhere near as high on her list as, say, a trip to the mall.

But something weird is going on. One by one, my clamps are disappearing. I first noticed a couple of small spring clamps had gone AWOL. It was easy to spot since I am hyper-organized. If a clamp is missing, it is glaringly obvious. Of course, I thought I had misplaced them. I looked, off and on, for days, to no avail. Then, while doing a glue-up, I grabbed for one of my four 6-inch bar clamps, and there were only three on the rack.

Figure 3 - Practicing 5S keeps my workshop hyper-organized...
at a glance I can tell when something is amiss - or missing!

A few weeks later, two of my medium-sized spring clamps flew the coop. Shortly thereafter, a roll of duct tape walked. Now, there was no question… I wasn't losing my mind, stuff was being pilfered.

Notwithstanding the triple layer alarm system on, in, and around my shop, I decided to install a video camera with recording capability. The camera activates when motion is detected, and records until motion ceases. Sure enough, there it was… my spouse went into the shop, nosed around a bit, and helped herself to "things." I gave her that set of keys in case I ever lost mine. I should have hidden them in a fake rock instead.

Still, this level of interest in my shop is the most involvement she has ever had. On one level, too, it was pleasing to see her resourcefulness… and to know I hadn't lost my mind, along with my clamps.

Eventually, I did discover the two small spring clamps… they were holding a beach towel to the back of a lounge chair. The bar clamp was holding a strip of wood to an exposed stud in a basement dividing wall, the stick being used as an improvised clothes rack. The duct tape I never found.

As I was covering that last wall in the basement, adding trim and corner bead molding, I realized my wife had "played" me. She knew I would finish that wall and build her a "real" clothing rack just to get my clamp back. Ummm… resourceful and manipulative… I've got to get my locks changed!

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