It seems that my last column about trying to assemble mail-order items was well-received. I was pleased to learn that I am not the only person in Midcoast Maine who is, well, a klutz. Others, too, have had similar experiences, it seems.

To that end, here is “Part II of DIY Not So Red-Hot.”

Where shall I begin? Well, here’s one I’m sure everybody can relate to. At my old place in Waldo, rats from the “gentlemen farmers” who moved in near me became a nuisance. In addition to the rats, red squirrels made my life a challenge, for lack of a better description.

Red squirrels are fair game. Really. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Hunting Regulation booklet says that there is no closed season or bag limit on red squirrels.

However, taking method is limited to hunting with firearms, unless you are a licensed trapper and it is trapping season, or you live on land amounting to 10 acres or more. It still needs to be trapping season, though.

For me, that meant I needed to develop an ingenious method to whack the red squirrel that found a way in the house and was gnawing at who-knows-what in the walls.

The obvious method of ending these incursions would be a Haveahart trap. But that’s illegal outside of trapping season. Oh, the fine print.

Shooting the critter was the best choice, but this red squirrel had a PHD in hiding and evasion. No matter what, I couldn’t get a shot at the rascal. Then, it came to me. A rat trap. I could legally set a rat trap and if a red squirrel “happened” to get caught, it was just a bycatch.

So I bought a rat trap. These come with the bail stapled down (more on staples later) to the platform. It is necessary to draw out the staple so that the trap can function as designed.

All well and good. But in removing the staple, my bifocals did me a grave disservice. I pulled out the wrong one. Instead of removing the staple that held the bail down, I removed one of the staples that attached the thing to the platform. No problem, though. I simply tapped the staple back in with a hammer.

This looked fine on the surface, but it seems I didn’t get the staple in quite right. Oh, well, what difference could that make? I was to find the answer in a painful way.

After baiting the rat trap with peanut butter, a favorite food of all pests, I proceeded to set it in a place where the red squirrel traveled. So far, so good. I recall thinking how much it would hurt to get your finger caught in a rat trap.

With the bail pulled back all the way and ready to set the little thingy to keep it in place, the staple that I pulled out and drove back in pulled out. The bail snapped on my finger. Of course, instead of calmly pulling the thing back to release it from my finger, I panicked and waved my hand about. After lots of screaming and various epithets, I got the trap off.

But the damage was done. There I got my answer to how much it might hurt to get your finger caught in a rat trap. It hurts. Big time.

It took a long time to stanch the blood flow. The wound finally healed, leaving me, hopefully, a bit wiser regarding rat traps.

Staple weapon

The common office stapler looks innocuous. A less-formative piece of equipment couldn’t be imagined. But deep in its metal heart lies an enemy, one just waiting to inflict the most painful wound.

As with the rat trap, I always wondered how bad it would hurt to drive a staple in your hand. Again, my query was answered, in full.

Here’s what happened. The door on my screen porch in back had significant tears in the screen. A friend/handyman promised to fix it, but he is on vacation. Noticing a roll of plastic sheeting in the garage, I decided to cut some plastic to size and staple it to the offending screen as a temporary fix. Yes, you can probably infer what came next. Nevertheless, I shall proceed.

The sun shone brightly on the screen door that eventful afternoon. That would pose a problem.

I cut the plastic to size, kind of. It was folded every which way to Sunday, but I succeeded in getting it reduced to the general shape that I wanted. Again, so far so good. Kind of.

Next, all that was left was to hold the plastic to the door with one hand and staple it in place with the other. What could be simpler? Well, as Jackie Gleeson used to say, “Har-de-Har” to that.

What happened next was the cumulative result of my bifocals giving me fits and my pupils not dilating as they should, after having come from the dark garage to the bright outside sun.

You can picture this, I know. I held the plastic in place with my right hand and proceeded to staple it with my left hand. What could go wrong?

The trouble was, I was holding the stapler upside-down. So when with my left palm I pushed on the thing in order to drive the staple into the wood, I wound up driving it into my palm.

It was like a Mr. Magoo scene. I pulled stapler and staple away and blood began flowing. The pain was intense, as bad and perhaps worse than I anticipated it would be in the event of such a mishap.

If I had someone to assist, they would have not only held the plastic so that I could have cut it in a more geometric shape, they might have noticed I was holding the stapler upside-down.

Bottom line? This handymen, do-it-yourself thing isn’t so red-hot sometimes. Get help. Don’t try this stuff alone, at home. But if you do, I hope you don’t wear bifocals.