This is a Bosch jigsaw, a wonderful machine. It allows careful control, holds many blade widths, has variable speeds, and can be used on ceilings, walls, floors, or metal and wood, on a bench, in a vise, or leaning against a wall. It is fairly new (for me) and one of my favorite tools.
The photo below is of a Barnes foot power saw, made in the 1870’s and presently in my living room. It likes only one type of blade, goes only as fast as one can pedal, and will only cut wood that is lying on its table. It belonged to my grandfather and was used a great deal not only by him, but also by my mother and me—especially me, since when I was a kid I got great pleasure out of making goofy things out of wood. When my grandfather died, I restored it, and later, among other things, happily made replacement pieces for the large wooden picture puzzles kids use in their early years. In fact I was in great demand by pre-schools to do exactly that.
Now why is this saw in my living room, and the Bosch saw not. The Bosch saw is well designed, attractive, and a joy to use. But the Barnes saw is BEAUTIFUL, both aesthetically and functionally. People can’t resist pedaling it, with the result that I have put a small piece of plastic tubing over the blade so they can’t saw off fingers. Its finest hour might have come during a visit by a wonderful woman named Jing Lyman, the wife of the then president of Stanford. Sadly, her memorial service is tomorrow, and the world will miss her.
Jing was a powerful woman, who apparently when young had wanted to be a carpenter. In those days, the profession was hoarded by men, but she did wood-working for a hobby and worked as a shop teacher. When she visited, she was wearing an almost ankle-length rather voluminous dress, but insisted that I find her a piece of wood so she could try the saw. I did so, and she climbed onto the saw and began peddling. At the time I had it well greased. Suffice it to say that her dress became so wound up between the greasy wheels and belts that it suffered terminal damage in the effort to free her. The saw now has no grease, and long dresses are not allowed.
Much of the saw’s beauty comes from the graceful castings of which it is formed. Someday I will calculate the stress in some of the members, because they seem surprisingly thin for the loads they carry—almost delicate. Yet when it was built the knowledge to do that was not available. The curves in the spokes of the pedal wheel are to keep the wheel from deforming as the spokes cool and shrink after the hot metal is poured into the mold during the casting process. But the final effect is elegant indeed. The table is a very nice piece of hardwood, as are the arms that hold the blade. There was enough paint on the saw when I acquired it to duplicate the color and the striping. I think even my wife is proud to have it in our living room.
It must be possible to make visually interesting machines, even if they are electronic. I laughed when I read about Apple suing Samsung for using round corners on their cell phones like they do. Do screens and keyboards necessarily have to show no individuality, and can people patent a form so bland, though elegant, as a cell phone? The final photo is of a Blickensderfer Number 6 typewriter—perhaps the ultimate in small typewriters. Obviously you wouldn’t want to carry it in your pocket, nor is it particularly elegant, but you should agree that it is more interesting to look at than your present key pad.