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JANUARY 21, 2008    

Fixed it... thanks, Dad.

Close-up of repaired xmas tree standIn many ways I'm very different from my father. He was a factory worker, I'm a college professor. He'd never pay $8 to have his car washed when he had a perfectly good garden hose and bucket, but I do. But once in a while I remember how he'd try to fix anything broken, and usually succeed. His repairs weren't pretty but did the job. So with my ugly but sturdy repair of our xmas tree stand I'm definitely my father's son.

The stand, a Swivel-Straight, is a very clever gadget. It's a sort of hollow ball-and-socket with a flat base that allows you to put the tree trunk in a container, then swivel the container any direction in the base until the tree is straight. Then it locks into place. So, great idea, really works as advertised, but...

It's made out of plastic, and the sections that hold the screws that tighten to hold the tree trunk take a lot of stress. A couple of years ago I noticed a crack forming in one, and last year it broke apart entirely. This year—three days before Christmas—I knew I had to do something or we'd end up wiring the tree to the walls to hold it up (another of my Dad's innovations).

So I got a tube of FastSteel, a two-part epoxy that you squish together to a very stiff play-doh-like consistency. I put the broken piece of the stand back in place, surrounded it with a big gob of FastSteel, and added a plastic reinforcement at the top that I'd cut from a switchplate cover. When the epoxy hardened in about 15 minutes I had a solid—if ugly—reinforced screw mount. Just like Dad would have done it.

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