Related to MAKE 12, Impaled!
MakeShift 12: Analysis, Commentary, and Winners
by Lee D. Zlotoff
March 14, 2008
If this challenge proved anything, it's the unbounded collective ingenuity of all you Make-azoids. Maybe there's a big difference between imagined pain and the real touch factor. While virtually everyone saw the wisdom of leaving the branch in your leg until professional help could be called, there were a wide variety of suggestions about how to cut that branch free of the pile so you could limp or crawl to the phone in the house.
Since the broken chain saw was within reach, many of you opted to try and use the loose chain as a sort of string saw to cut through the branch on either side of your leg. In principle perhaps that might work, but the teeth on a chain saw are fairly large and require considerable speed to really be effective. And, even if you could somehow manage to get the chain itself off the saw, which we suspect would be difficult without any tools, to actually cut through the branch with it, would entail creating quite a bit of strain and movement on the branch. This would not only increase the pain quotient dramatically — stoic as you may be — but run the risk of exacerbating the wound enough to tear the artery or cause dangerously excessive bleeding. Not really a good idea.
Which brings us to the point that all but a few of you overlooked, perhaps falling into that gap between the abstract notion of pain on the printed page and an actual stick going through your thigh. Namely, before you start hacking away at that branch with anything, you really should use whatever you've got — shirt, gloves, the extension cord, or all of the above — to stabilize the branch in relation to your leg as much as possible. That way it doesn't move any more than necessary when you attempt to cut it, for the reasons mentioned earlier. Clearly, you'll need to cut the branch at least once, if not twice, to get yourself free, but you'll definitely want to bind that sucker in tight to your leg before you have at it.
As to the best implement to do that, we thought — as did many of you — that the pole saw was your best bet. Even if you couldn't remove the blade itself, the teeth on the saw are more conducive to carefully sawing through the branch without jerking or moving it any more than necessary. One entrant ingeniously suggested trying to dismantle the chain saw enough to use the chain-drive sprocket under power as a cutting tool. We had our doubts about the feasibility of that but it certainly earned points for creativity.
Then again, there were a handful of you who thought burning through the branch by starting a fire was another way to go, using either an article of clothing or the non-existent gas from the chain saw (it was electric, remember?) to get it started. While undoubtedly imaginative, the difficulty of starting a fire under those circumstances, not to mention containing it as you lay in a pile of leaves and branches, didn't seem terribly realistic or particularly wise. Unless, as one entrant apparently felt, finding yourself in this predicament was sufficiently humiliating or prophetic that you might as well just end it all in a blaze of infamy, and hope to be reincarnated into a world where such things just didn't happen. Okay!
Now, to get the pole saw into your hands most of you, we thought logically, would fashion a lasso of sorts from the extension cord and try to rope the pole saw leaning against the chair until you could yank it to within reach. Some of you concocted rather elaborate schemes to either snare it with your shoelaces or somehow use the ladder to bring the pole saw closer, but we had trouble seeing how these would really work without expending a lot of unnecessary effort and energy or just further complicating your already difficult situation.
All in all, though, another impressive array of ideas of mind over matter, which only leaves all of us here more than eager to see what you can come up with for the next challenge. So keep up the good work and, if you should decide to take down a tree or two in the future, why not arrange a little insurance against such misadventures and invite a friend over to man the drinks cooler while they watch you do the Paul Bunyan thing. Just a thought.
The winners of the MakeShift Volume 12 Challenge are:
- MakeShift Master – Plausible: Damon John Hoxworth
- MakeShift Master – Creative: Nisse Taunt
- Honorable Mention: Max Lee
You must be logged in to post a talkback.