Well, of course there’s no such thing as the “greatest” goofs, because the best goofs (or worst, depending on your perspective) are always your own. But over the 17 years or so we’ve been publishing DIY goofs, a few common threads have emerged.
Check before you trim a door.
Ah, it is so easy, once a door is off its hinges and resting on sawhorses, to cut the wrong end. It could be you’re adding carpet or tile, or putting in a pet door—we’ve heard goofs about ’em all. P.S. Watch where you drill for handles and locksets, too!
Watch where you drill.
We’ve heard of drilling through floors and wrecking clothes; drilling through walls and hitting water pipes, live wires, even pocket doors; and drilling through the back of roll-top desks, neatly perforating the door. The moral: A drill is like a loaded gun—watch where you point it!
Be careful before the Super Bowl.
Don’t go digging around buried wires, or muck around with your house’s wiring, or if you’re a real fan, don’t use power tools at all. The stories are legion of spoiling that big day with some ham-handed DIY. It’s funny, though; we’ve never gotten letters about spoiling wedding anniversaries. Hmm.
Ladders. Oh, my.
We really shouldn’t publish goofs about ladders, because there are so many life-altering and even life-ending accidents that involve ladders. But it’s also true there are many that are simply funny, or at least only involve bruises to limbs or ego. Being marooned is a common theme—on the roof, in a tree or other embarrassing locations. Also anything involving power tools and wasps. But various thrilling descents are also common. Learn from them, folks. I sure have!
Learn “left” and “right,” “up” and “down.”
Very important concepts in DIY. Especially with, let’s see, patterned wallpaper, cabinet sides, stair spindles, vinyl flooring, mower blades and even windows. If something has two sides that are different, you can bet that some DIYer somewhere has gotten them mixed up.
Finally, there’s my personal vote for the greatest goof of all. It’s the very first one we published in We do everything by our own hands, and it was also one of my many, many personal goofs. I had busted a brand-new toilet by cranking down too hard on the floor bolts, to the tune of a couple hundred dollars. When I wrote about the incident, it created such a flood of mail that the “Great Goofs” department was born. Talk about silver linings!
— Ken Collier, Editor in Chief