Freakin’ Manly Shit

We don’t really have a category for this stuff, so I’m putting it under Guns, Drugs & Booze. Powertools really should be in there, because hey, what good is a chainsaw without booze and drugs – and vice versa.
My drill press has a notice on in: “Do not use if wearing gloves, loose clothes, or a neck tie.”
How the hell old school do you have to be, to be doing woodworking (or metal working) in a necktie?
[Warning: Old-school cussing to follow]

It was made in China and I got it as a gift, and it’s about 75 pounds of cast iron and electric motor, and pulleys and belts and stuff – and I know China is a little backward in some respects… but what kinda guy wears a necktie while chamfering an engine head, or knocking out a couple Shaker style chairs?
Why, you’d have to be the kind of guy who would own something like this – a “Powermatic” something or other. This tool is so macho, that you don’t have to have the faintest idea of what it does – you just stand near it and nod, and people will steer clear of you. And what a name – the “Powermatic.” Sheesh. Near as I can tell, it was made out of a couple hundred pound block of pure pig iron, and built in an era where tools were made by companies with names like “Atlas” and “Hercules” and “Acme” and “Thor.” None of this “Mikita” bullshit. And screw that line of pink girly tools that Home Depot sells. The only Mikita that a Hercules Punch Press operator would bother with was Stan “Stosh” Mikita, a tough two way forward for the Chicago Blackhawks, and the only tool a woman needs to know how to use is… well, men in that era didn’t talk about it that way.
But drill press operation in a tie… If you do ironworking in a tie, you probably spot weld in a freakin’ Jos. A. Bank cashmere suit, whilst puffing on a Pall-Mall. You probably only smoke the Pall Malls when you run out of Lucky Strikes, because the Pall Malls are the only thing that will kill you as fast. Yep.
Oh yeah, there’s lots of great vintage power tools out there. Gotta problem with snow, or carbuncles, or a pesky Japanese WWII vet who refuses to surrender? Throw ’em all into conniptions (‘specially that WWII vet) with the Propane Flame Gun. Can you imagine that? Jeeesus. They sold that thing to consumers in the old days, presumably next to the lawn darts (aka the sky rockets/frisbee substitutes). If I saw my neighbor cleaning off the driveway with a fucking flamethrower, I’d go for my rifle and move the baby to a safe distance, and take up a fighting position with good cover and concealment, and maybe call a couple pipe-hittin’ buddies for backup. But not in the old days, nope… “Ah, hell, Norm’s got the new Japroaster 5000 flamethrower – hah, that’s mil surplus if I ever saw it, used one just like it on Iwo. Flamed a coupla Nips, too, I tell ya. Didn’t like the fuel leaks though – you didn’t want to light up a Lucky after that. Hoo boy. I’d better get the Napalmomatic Frymaster attachment out for the Lawnboy, burn the lawn off the front yard so it grows back better in the spring… gotta keep up with the Joneses, you know.
Shit. I bet my old man woulda lit his Newports off that flamethrowin’ puppy. Sweeet Jeebus.
Shit yeah! I love this stuff, and I think that our narcissitic version of toughness – chest-depilated weightlifting metrosexuals who preen in bars too loud for talking – are pretty lame in comparison.
Real men in the old days shared the fun, too. What good was dangerous power tool-joy, if you couldn’t share it with the boys on special occasions? For example, when the little woman was off at the hospital having your son, what better way to spend the day than risking decapitation with a thoroughly unsafe, 90 pound, two-man chainsaw? “Aw, dammit Bob, why do I have to be at the end of the blade with the little tiny handle again? You know how I hate losing fingers. Ahhh, fuck it, just give me another beer, and let’s start cuttin’.”
But really, if you are the kind of guy who does metal working in a necktie, that stuff is for pansies. You do what a really real man does. You probably carry your lunch in a pail, and you bend things like bridge abutments and 980 ton earthmoving machines using this 90,000 pound power hammer. [click on the yellow and black thumbnail, bottom left]
Ever heard of a power hammer? Prolly not, I’m guessing. It’s a huge vertical ram, the larger versions of which basically drive a schoolbus-sized hunk of metal hammer up and down onto a yacht-sized hunk of metal anvil, and you slip a big hunka steel in there to bend it (careful – don’t get your tie caught; and your fingers will look like huge pancakes if you slip up) and make something nice for the missus like some new bodywork for the car, because she was a little upset about you and the boys drinking too much Schlitz at the VFW last night and getting a ding on the flare fender of the DeSoto. You use a tool like a 90,000 pound goddam power hammer because you are so old school that even Charles freaking Darwin wouldn’t know where you fit in, you goddam freak.
By the way – that power hammer I linked to is on a website called – frankly, I feel like too much of a pussy to even open that site again, at least until I’ve pounded this glass of Wild Turkey and done 50 pushups, and maybe punched myself out for an attempt to get fresh with myself in the shower this morning. Shit – even the website for the power hammers is tough.
As another aside, when you check out the that artwork advertising that power hammer, can’t you just about hear those sweaty Krauts thinkin’, “man, I’m tired of working my union-mandated 35 hour workweeks in this stinkin’ factory here in Dortmund… but I guess it beats getting shot at by fucking Ivan in 60 below cold at Stalingrad, tell ya what. Shit my wrist hurts on days like this – I prolly never shoulda beat that Russki to death with my entrenching tool, left handed. Oh well, if I didn’t have to choke that other Ivan with my right hand at the same time, I guess I wouldn’t have had to. Hmmm… I think I’ll have some raw meat on bread for lunch along with my three beers. Better be careful not to spill anything on my new necktie.”
Aw hell, those old boys were hard, harder than a burlap bag full of 25 ounce hammers.
I mean, I’m so goddam old school that if you asked Colin Farrell and the Cherry Hill Gang about me, all you’d get is stunned silence. But I still don’t wear a necktie when I do my woodworking.
Yep. That’s old school. “Don’t run the drill press while wearing a necktie.”
Fuck. I don’t feel worthy of owning that thing. Maybe I need to look into one of those pink cordless drills, with a fluffy buffing attachment…



  1. Mikey

    Thank you for the laughs. Men and Tools, as always a great subject. The only thing that can top it are stories that begin “And so I said to John, “Hey, you know that log splitter? I bet you can’t do….”

  2. John Anderson

    The Propane Flame Gun is something I might have bought when I owned a house. I have physical problems, and in any case decided in Junior High that I was not going to emulate a number of my parent’s friends who dropped out of life shovelling in their forties.
    No kids in the neighborhood.
    So I had an electric shovel which cleared a one-foot path for the mailperson. And a four-wheel drive that mostly ignored snow – I sometimes had to ram the four-foot pile the city’s plows left at the end of the drive two or even three times.
    But I probably would not go for the really expensive option of heating coils beneath the asphalt…

  3. Al Maviva

    I dunno guys. For my money, if it cain’t kill ya, it ain’t a real power tool. That flamer (oh, suuuuper!) that Allen referred me to, with its talk of comfortable webbing, backpack-style straps… it just doesn’t appeal to me as much as some napalm-dripping, dangerous, oily beast that belches black smoke.

  4. Sigivald

    The “Powermatic” is a lathe; not only is that obvious from the photograph with the motor next to a pile of wood shavings, but it even says so later on in the captions.
    A propane flame gun aka “brush burner” is still widely available, as Allen points out.
    I know several people who would kill for a power hammer. And probably several more who might kill with one.

  5. Al Maviva

    I know it’s a lathe. The part where it talks about mounting the motor & spindle bit to the “lathe bed” gives that away. I’m not that clueless, but it was part of the bit. Put down the technically accurate comments, and back away slowly.
    As for power hammers, you can make a pretty good one relatively easily, so there’s no need to kill anybody – but if you are planning on killing some bastard for his power hammer, don’t let me stop you. Based on what I’ve seen, if your are going for the gusto, you want to make it pneumatic, it will last a really long time. And if you are trying to get hold of one made by someone else – including a nice vintage, 10 ton, cast iron type, check out that website. It’s got a lot of links to power hammer manufacturers, and to used ones for sale, and to homemade jobbies. Though nothing beats the appeal of the Beche Lufthammer that takes four guys to operate it.
    Hey, is it just me, or can you smell some machine oil?

  6. John Weidner

    I once read a letter in a woodworking magazine by a guy who came home from church, and decided absentmindedly to do a little work on a project on his lathe.
    Next thing he knows, he’s being pulled into the lathe by hs necktie. He uses all his strength to keep from being dragged into the machine, and finally realizes he’s still holding a gouge–and cuts off the tie…
    New warning label: Bow ties only!

  7. Joe

    I love power hammers – a lot easier than the old hand-held hammer and anvil work. My buddy Dan (a famous knifemaker) has one, and man can that bitch pound ! He uses it to make Damascus (folded) steel – I used it to make a knife once. Don’t get your fingers too close to the work area, though, ’cause forget the pancake thing – they will get crushed right off your hand.
    Yeah, I really like power hammers. And chainsaws. And cutting torches. And welders. And like all the other tool-loving crazy bastards I know, I’ve got the scars to prove it. But neckties ? Screw that noise – just pass me soma that Jack Daniels, and another piece of bar stock, willya ? 😉

  8. rob

    I own a Thor grinder. I’m willing to bet it was used to make B17s. That thing just flat out rocks! Weighs about 100 lbs. People jump back when I hit the power switch. Try finding that at Home Depot.

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