My father was a grocery store manager; he couldn't even drive
a nail. So I guess I must have my grandfather's genes, which
were then passed on to my son Richard, whom I admire as a
My grandfather came to the United States from Germany in the
mid-1800s, where he'd been a wagon maker and wheel maker. Upon
arrival, he found work as a woodworker and carver at a Buffalo,
N.Y., piano factory. About 150 years ago, he built himself a
rugged chest of drawers that was finally passed on to me.
In 1946, following Navy duty in World War II, I worked as a
wood pattern maker at Buffalo Forge Co. in Buffalo, N.Y. I
started at 70¢ an hour as an apprentice and received a
5¢ an hour raise every six months. I soon married and
eventually raised three children.
We had no money to spare for a "real" table saw, so I mounted
a power saw on top of my grandfather's chest, using my mother's
extra oak table leaves, a saw bearing from Sears, an old 1/4-hp
washing machine motor, and wood screw handles from a broken
parallel clamp. Later, I modified the saw to accept an 8-inch
disc sander and a dado cutter.
I used the saw for many years until, finally, my wife
surprised me with a Shopsmith, which does just about everything
(except store clothing). Although I no longer use it, I've kept
the old saw mounted on my grandfather's chest.
Blade depth is set by raising the top on
twin screw handles, sloping it away from the operator. The
sliding fence has an 8-inch rip capacity. And, naturally, the
drawers are great for accessory storage. Now, about those
Matt Harkis retired and lives in Brewster,