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If I had a hammer….

The Essential Craftsman’s Scott Wadsworth takes us on a tour of blacksmith shop artifacts with a side trip into how the 1,912 miles of the transcontinental railroad were hammered into place.

“Gotta love the legacy of hard work that is printed all over these things by their very existence.”

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  • ghostsniper July 17, 2018, 2:27 PM

    My neighbor down the road is a steelworker and has millions of dollars worth of high end equipment. His company goes through DeWalt angle grinders like millenials go through latte’s. Last summer I was at his place and marveled at how nicely he had trimmed down the blade guard on one of the grinders lying there. I picked it up and saw that the blade was mostly uncovered and just a small sliver of the guard, maybe 2″ wide, at the rear, remained. I made a mental picture of it and said I was gonna make mine like that. But it didn’t happen. A year has passed and my best grinder still does not have a guard on it let alone a modified one.

    2 nights ago, around 11:30pm I was sanding away on the tips of about 90 2-3/4″ screws that had protruded through the project I have been working on because I was too lazy to go out and get 2-1/2″ screws and decided to use what I had on hand. I had a 4-1/2″ 60 grit flap sander disc on it and it caught sideways on one of the screws and jumped up and over and landed right on my left hand. My blindingly fast natural instincts snatched back on the grinder as soon as it snagged but alas a Porter Cable angle grinder at 30,000 rpms is faster than a speeding bullet, even Superman isn’t fast enough, nor am I. But only by about 3/4″. That’s about how much of that still spinning disc owned on the back of my left index finger. 3/4″ Hide was instantly removed and for a split second I saw god, then the devil. Human meat is very white when it is revealed, but internal pressure turns it red almost instantly. Then the wave of pain comes online and it is almost overwhelming. A small injury with an oversized pain. Much oversized. There must be some sort of chemicals in those discs to make them burn so, I almost buckled. I thrust my trashed finger under the cold faucet and when the water hit the pain doubled. Twice. I was literally shaking, and squeezing that finger like a tourniquet, but the pain had no conscience, it didn’t care. It had been lying in wait for so long and now it had it’s victory. By midnight I had it under control, I guess. The bleeding had stopped and I x-knifed a shop rag in half and wrapped around it then a few wraps of black electrical tape and I was ready for more. But I switched over to my DeWalt 3″x24″ belt sander instead. Have’t touched that nasty angle grinder since. When I went out in the shop this morning it was still sitting where I left it, and I swear I heard it chuckling….and my finger throbbed.

  • Eskyman July 18, 2018, 3:03 PM

    @ghostsniper- whoa! That’s the kind of thing that leads to recurrent nightmares!

    Once I lived out back-of-beyond, back of the black stump; my stove was a wood stove, my heat was a fireplace, my hot water (when I had it) was from a woodchip heater. I chopped wood once in a while as you might surmise.

    To get the wood that I needed to chop, I used a chainsaw; I had a good Stihl with a 20″ bar, and it was a wonderful tool. Got more wood than would fit in my VW bus in just a few hours of chainsawing.

    Then one day I got my saw stuck in a log; I did the usual reverse-the-pressure, rock the saw, it was still stuck- until suddenly it wasn’t! Of course it was still running-

    And I felt a tiny “tug” on my pantsleg. Looked down and I saw that the chainsaw had made a tiny little hole in my pants, just above my knee. Missed my leg by about an eighth of an inch, maybe. Just a little farther and I’ve have been a one-legged woodchopper, and somebody would’ve found my body there someday.

    When I finished shaking, I put the chainsaw back in my VW, drove it home, and gave it to a friend who’d been after it for a long time. Decided I didn’t want to do any more chainsawing, and I haven’t.

    So you have my sympathy, and I sure hope you heal up good.

    Oh, seeing ghostsniper’s story I almost forgot, but there was one other thing I was going to say about this video, which has to do with hammers. Here’s a story I came across not long ago, don’t recall where, but doesn’t it look like a railroad spike hammer? Must be a pretty old train-


  • Vanderleun July 18, 2018, 6:27 PM

    Powertools with the ability to change your given name to “Stumpy” lay in wait for the smallest nano-second’s stupidity and then exploit it at light speed.

  • The Old Salt July 18, 2018, 8:50 PM


  • Dan Patterson July 19, 2018, 12:12 PM

    If I had a hammer, I’d throw it at Peter, Paul, and Mary.
    And if the odious Pete Seeger were to emerge from Hell’s bellows he’d be next.