Monday, July 27, 2015

4078 Righty tighty

Monday, July 27, 2015

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times 
the same good things for the first time.
--Friedrich Nietzsche--
I have never understood the popularity of "Righty tighty, lefty loosey."  It makes no sense to me.
I often look at the direction of the screw cuts (or whatever those things are called) on screws, bolts, nuts, lightbulbs, everything, before attempting to screw them in.  Loosening and tightening if I can't see the cuts is not as easy.  When I used to express confusion about which way to turn things, other people (Daughter in particular, she's downright nasty about it) roll their eyes and say "righty tighty, lefty loosey", like it solves the whole problem.

It doesn't.

Imagine yourself looking at a bolt sticking up vertically out of a machine, with a nut on it.  You pick up a wrench, fit it to the bolt and now you tighten it.  Righty tighty, right?  Which direction does your hand move?  Your hand moves to the left.  The wrench handle moves to the left, all the way down the wrench to the center of the bolt.  The far TIP of the wrench moves right.  The nut itself moves clockwise, technically neither left nor right, or both left and right.

Now stick that bolt down out of the ceiling.  In that position, which way does your hand move, or the wrench?  Which way is right or left?  The only thing that always moves the same way is the nut.  It always moves clockwise.

How do the hands on a clock move?  Left or right?

See the confusion?  
That old "Righty tighty, lefty loosey" saw is not helpful, and can actually be confusing to a lot of people. It's popular because it's catchy.  People seem to prefer catchy to clear.  
I propose that we change it to "Clockwise tight, counterclockwise loose."  Not as catchy, but it no longer depends on your orientation and it always works.  It's clear.

Next time you tighten or loosen something, ask yourself if you are really thinking in terms of left and right, even as you're repeating the saw in your head, or if you are actually thinking  about a clock face.

I'm willing to bet you're thinking about a clock.


the queen said...

I think of a dot on the screw head or nut and do what I need to to make the imaginary dot move right or left. If I think of anything clock related I think as far a two o'clock and that gets me what I need.

~~Silk said...

But but but --- that dot is moving right for half the distance, and left for the other half.

Becs said...

I love the 'clockwise' solution. Anonymous Boyfriend used to use the righty-tighty expression and it drove me mad. And if there's anything on the ceiling that needs to be dealt with, I'm calling a handyman and he can figure it out.

Anonymous said...

Righty tighty works just fine for most things for me. I think you spend too much time thinking. Come over to the dark side of the non-Mensa IQ world. We have cookies.

rockygrace said...

I recite righty-tighty on an embarrassingly regular basis. Then again, I have to fake-do the Pledge of Allegiance (right hand over your heart!) to remember my right from my left, so you're not looking at the sharpest tool in the shed, here.