Friday, April 30, 2010


We had a funeral yesterday.  The deceased, a loyal and trusted friend, died suddenly and unexpectedly.  I was particularly fond of the old devil.

A good friend of mine gave me that recip saw.  All ratty and beat up, it looked as though it had been mauled by a bear.  "You need one of these and are too stubborn to buy one for yourself," he said. "So I am giving this old thing to you.  Maybe you can get a year or two out of it before it dies."

We had that conversation over fifteen years ago.  And all I can say is boy was he right.  He and I cut an entire wall out of a house I owned in Portland with that thing. Slipped a brand new patio door in the hole just as slick as you please.  I've cut tree limbs, heck, I've cut entire trees down with it.  I've cut all kinds of pipe.  I cut open an in ground oil tank at that same house so the tank could be decommissioned.  Cut that tank from stem to stern, quarter inch steel, cut right through it like butter.  There were countless other times over the years that I offered up a prayer of gratitude to him while I used that saw to slash through something or another.

I was cutting out another palm stump when it finally gave up the ghost yesterday afternoon.  The third palm stump in two weeks.  A good demolition blade chews those out actually better than a chain saw.  Takes about two blades per stump.  Was chewing the stump out like gangbusters, when suddenly the blade shaft completely ejected from the saw amidst horrible grinding noises.

 I took it apart and found the recip part of the transmission had become hardened and brittle, and the steel pin responsible for the reciping motion had sheered off.  A clear case of metal fatigue fracturing.

Melony and I went over to Home Depot to look at new saws.  As luck would have it, the Milwaukee factory rep was there and we ended up purchasing a replacement saw from him.  First, he asked me what brand of saw I was replacing. I told him my old Porter Cable.  He stopped cold.  "Okay," he said.  "You need to know that no one, not even us, makes saws like that any more.  I'm sorry about that.  But, you were blessed with a truly great saw."

So, this post is a thank you note to the friend who gave it to me. I wanted you to know how much I loved that saw.  It was never once used without me thinking thoughts of gratitude towards you. And I wanted you to know that it lived out the end of its days with honor and dignity, happily doing what it did best--grinding the shit out of anything it touched--and died in the harness.  If you've got to go, that's the way to do it.

The replacement is all shiny and new, and I'm sure we'll get to know each other pretty well.  But it just doesn't have the true grit that older Porter Cable did.  I'll miss the old fellow.


Anonymous Your friend said...

Well, the gratitude goes both ways for the saw was in the hands of someone who could not only use it well but appreciated what it was and what it could do. This is the right use of what we are given and the universe spins that much more easily because of this.

April 30, 2010 at 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the same saw. Bought it used 28 years ago and it still works like a champ and still cuts faster than any other reciprocating saw on the market. About 15 years ago I dropped it off the roof and broke the housing and sheared the pin off that held the blade in place. I went to the hardware store fully expecting to buy a new one and the salesman told me he would send it in to porter cable to see what it would cost to fix. It came back 3 weeks later totally refurbished with new parts and no bill even for shipping. My garage is now filled with mostly porter cable tools based on that experience.

December 31, 2010 at 2:55 PM  

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