The Angle Grinder Story

So, you want to hear the Angle Grinder story then?

Okay, this is the set up. We had a server room, which had a glass wall so visitors could see into it. Debatable on how worthwhile that was, but it was great for jokes between the IT staff (clue the choking due to ‘Halon’ system we didn’t have). The IT department was naturally situated right in front of the glass wall so we could keep an eye on things.

Anyways, this room had originally been configured with two post telecom racks, rather than 4 post server racks. The decision was made to replace a number of the two post racks with four post, to make better use of space and mount the servers correctly. So we migrated systems around so we had a rack free at a time and could remove the two post rack.

This is where we encountered the problem: They were bolted to the floor. Normally, this isn’t actually a problem: in a properly mounted scenario, the bolts go into anchors into the floor that are flush. Was this done properly?

Of course not. Whomever had installed these racks originally had drilled holes into the floor, and installed permanent concrete lag bolts. The kind that stick up and you drive a nut down on. The kind that aren’t designed to be removed. Ever.

This is where the angle grinder comes in.

Well, myself and the other person assisting me figured the best way to handle things was just to cut the bolts off flush to the ground. The new racks didn’t have the same bolt down spacing, but the bolts were going to be a tripping hazard if we left them there.

So, I brought in an angle grinder the next day.

Just before lunch, we entered the server room with the angle grinder, extension cord, and a large piece of cardboard (from a Dell server shipping box, as I recall). Given that this was an operational server room, we both knew that the sparks and metal shards from cutting the bolts was probably a bad idea to just let fly around the room. So we used the cardboard to surround the working area and trap the flying metal. So, we were set up and proceeded with the bolt cutting.

Angle grinders are not quiet devices. Neither is the sound of a cutoff wheel slicing through a steel bolt.

Remember how I said the IT department was right in front of the glass wall? It was an open plan, and my boss’ desk was closest to the wall.

We caught sudden movement out of the corner of our eyes, and we turned to look. Our boss was sitting there, on the phone, and the look of surprise on his face was priceless. Between the noise and the sparks flying into the cardboard, it caught him completely off-guard, even though he knew what we were going to do.

We just waved, and continued cutting the bolts.

Sadly, we didn’t shock anyone else. A few days after the work was complete, we mused to each other that we should have videotaped the cutting; it’s not often you have sparks flying in a server room without panic!