Today I went to Lowes and Home Depot to collect pricing and availability data for the supplies I need for two of my upcoming experiments. Some of the items (i.e. lumber, plastic, and ground fabric) were easy to price. The tough one turned out to be the screws.
I need about 1200 3″ deck screws. Unfortunately screws are sold by the pound, not by quantity. As I looked at the boxes and pails of screws I felt like I was guessing the number of M&M’s in a jar. They were difficult to estimate. And no one knew the answer.
I talked to customer service representatives in the hardware departments at both Lowes and Home Depot. The conversations were eerily similar. Here is a paraphrase:
Me: Excuse me, I have a question for you.
Rep: What’s that?
Me: I’m constructing something that requires 1200 3″ deck screws. I’ve noticed screws are sold by the pound, and I have no idea what poundage would fall close to this number. Do have a chart or estimate of how many 3″ deck screws are in a pound?
Rep: (Laughs, shakes head while smiling.) I hear that question almost every day. I have no idea. Sorry.
Me: Ok, thanks anyway.
As I had these conversations I realized something about myself. If I worked in the hardware department at a building supplies store and I frequently was asked questions about the quantity of different size screws per pound, it would be impossible to stop me from creating a chart to estimate this. I would buy small packages of the major sizes of screws, determine how many were in a pound, and create a chart to estimate how many screws were in the common package sizes.
I couldn’t leave a common issue like this unresolved.
And every time a customer asked a question about screw quantity per pound I would revel in passing on the knowledge that my brief investigation had produced. In fact, I’d probably make copies of the chart that I’d keep on hand to pass out.
When I purchase the screws for this project you can be darn sure I’m going to weigh out a pound to see how many it is.