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The Death of The Hacksaw - August 2008 Automotive A.D.D.

Modern Power Tools And The Death Of The Hacksaw

E. John Thawley III
Aug 1, 2008
Photographer: E.John Thawley III
Htup_0808_01_z+traditional_hack_saw_and_blade Photo 1/1   |   The Death of The Hacksaw - August 2008 Automotive A.D.D.

My dad moved back to Texas a while ago. After spending his entire professional life immersed in and around the automotive culture of Southern California he's gone back to his birthplace and spiritual roots to retire. Anyone who has ever moved from one place to another knows the shedding of useless things that goes with the process. Items we once cherished, or at least thought were worth keeping, become burdensome. Extra weight, something more to pack and carry, there comes a time during every move when an item previously thought useful gets left behind. Before he left, Dad called to ask if I wanted any tools. I was shocked but it made sense. He no longer serviced his own cars and had given up racing years ago. He was done with home improvements and did little requiring more than a cordless drill. He figured he'd moved all that heavy, unused bulk one time too many and was ready to be rid of it.

Fast-forward a few weeks later to the scene in my garage where I'm unpacking these heavy boxes and drawers, surveying my loot, and trying to see how it would all fit into my collection. There amongst the cold chisels, drifts, pipe-threading dies, and other tools I will keep but never use, was the hacksaw just the way I'd remembered it since age 5 or so.

2018 Honda Civic
$18,940 Base Model (MSRP) 28/40 MPG Fuel Economy

The Hacksaw is not just any hacksaw-one used to merely separate one piece of metal you want from the rest that you don't want. Forget everything that comes to mind when you think or hear the word hacksaw. It does not apply here. This hacksaw is a work of art, a glorious example of industrial design from another era. It is the coolest hacksaw I have ever seen. Its sculptured aluminum, I-beam frame stems from a time when labor was cheap and power tools were costly. A time when having a handle that felt good in your hand was more important than price-point marketing. This hacksaw was made for tradesmen who used one everyday. It was made for workers who don't exist anymore.

I will never use this tool-not because I don't like it and not because it's too nice but, the fact is, I may never use any hacksaw again, ever. I just don't need one. (Pause here to reflect.) I am an amateur racer, a half-assed fabricator, a homeowner, a father of science-project-building offspring, and the handy neighbor on the block. How can I say that? How is it possible that a contemporary, mechanically inclined Homo sapien such as myself can even imagine life without a hacksaw? Easy. The answer lies in modern, affordable power tools.

The parting of metal from a singular form into a plural one is more easily done with power tools and modern abrasives than ever before. These advances have been around since the industrial revolution. What has changed is their affordability. Each month the sale flyers come. Each week the e-mails from Harbor Freight hit my inbox. The world is now full of cheap air tools, affordable power saws, and disposable blades. Abrasive discs and cutting wheels once found mainly in aerospace facilities are now available at Sears. I've got so many $9 air grinders and 3-inch cutoff tools that there's one for every type of bit I use. I only change them when they break or wear out. There's just no reason for the hacksaw any more ... except for the fact that it looks so bitchen. That, and the fact that I'm not moving anytime soon.

- E. John Thawley III
Contact: thawleyadd@gmail.com

By E. John Thawley III
25 Articles

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