Wednesday 30 April 2014

I Get To Keep All of My Fingers

Many, many years ago, before Louise and I had kids we would go to things like Home Shows. Sure, you can go with kids, and we have over the years, but with kids your main focus must be on them and not the things you go to a Home Show for. To tell you the truth, in Calgary these kinds of shows really don’t offer much more than the big retailers do in their stores, so you can save the high price of parking and the price of admission.

Many years ago, these shows were free and the intention was to introduce the public to your company and products, demonstrating in person why they are better than everyone else’s product. I just like to see the new products that the manufactures would come up with every year.

One year, Louise and I watched Jon Eakes do a woodworking demonstration of a radial arm saw. In the hands of an expert craftsman it is a truly wondrous machine. There was very little Jon couldn’t do with the saw and he made some amazing things while we were watching. I came away from the demonstration knowing that if I only had one of these tools, there would be nothing I couldn’t make in my basement.

I suppose that I must have priced out a radial arm saw and decided that for now I could make do with the tools I already have. The years passed, kids were born, grew up and left home, I became greyer and somewhat thicker and I am still making do without a radial arm saw. The radial arm saw has fallen out of favour over the years, and many of its strengths can be done now with smaller and cheaper tools. It has mainly been replaced by compound mitre saws and contractor’s table saws that do the same jobs, better and much safe than the radial arm saw.

I have always wondered the direction my life would have taken had I bought a radial arm saw all of those years ago. I might never have stayed working in the Post Office, choosing instead to become a carpenter and possibly a maker of fine furniture. Would my house now be filled with the golden warmth of hand made bits and bobs? I’ll never know.

Over the past few days I saw a radial arm saw that looked in pretty decent condition for only $65 at the second hand store. My mind immediately travelled back in time and I was sitting in the stands watching Jon Eakes make little miracles on a radial arm saw. The first time I saw it, I told myself “NO!” The next day I gave it the once over, turning all of the knobs and sliding the saw back and forth along the support arm. I thought about it when I got home and for the rest of the day. I made a “pros” and “cons” list and the “cons” far outweighed the “pros”. It was settled, I don’t need the saw, I have no room for the saw and it would be foolish for me to get the saw.

The next day I decided that if it were still there (unlikely) then I would buy it. It was there and my buddy Ken and I loaded it into the back seat of my car. I stashed it underneath my workbench in the garage because before I could use it I have to make a stand for it. I was pretty excited!

I couldn’t decide if I wanted a stand on wheels or one that is built into a cabinet against the north facing wall. I am kind of leaning to the cabinet, but the mobile stand makes sense too. I went online to see what other people have decided to use for their saws. It was while I was searching that I read about the recall on Sears Craftsman Radial Arm Saws. Sears is/has recalled over 3.7 million Radial Arm Saws produced between 1958 and 1992 because they were sold without a blade guard and some people have been hit by wood kicked back by the saws, resulting in amputations, fractures and lacerations. 

It has been over twenty years…the recall can’t still be in effect. Can it? I knew it was a dangerous saw when I bought it, but really, any razor sharp blade spinning at 3600 RPM’s is bound to be dangerous. I called the company and yes, the recall is still in effect although the woman didn’t really seemed pleased about telling me. The deal is that they will send me a box via FedEx and I am to detach the saw and motor, put it in the box, drop it off at FedEx and once they receive the package, they will send me $100.

I made a profit yesterday of $35 and I get to keep all of my fingers.
It might even be US dollars…

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