My Luddite Transformation is Almost Complete

This isn't a note about woodworking, moreover it's a quick note about how my choices in the shop over the last several years have started to influence my life outside the shop.

Many years ago I was envious and frustrated. I had fallen into the New Yankee Trap. I thought I would have to fill a shop full of wondrous machinations and ingeniously constructed jigs of all shape size and color to finally begin turning out the furniture of my dreams. I just needed to figure out a way to afford that next great thing.

I was a fool. I have grown and matured and now I know better.

I have a tool chest full of tools that can build anything I desire. I have a want for only a few more "big" purchases and I will consider myself complete. Until then I have learned to work around those small holes in my woodworking arsenal by using different techniques. Woodworking hand tools are the epitome of versatility, (often with no jig construction required)

To top it off my hand tools are exceedingly easier to maintain and care for over the long haul. most of them only require regular sharpening to work well.

So how have these learned experiences affected me outside the shop?

I've mentioned here that we have finally moved into a new home, this has been a great thing for us. After living on the fifth floor of a large apartment complex for the past few years I have found myself without some of the items one needs to care for and maintain a yard. The big item, a lawnmower.

I borrowed my in-laws for a few weeks until that was tiresome and I decided to go to the area Farm and Fleet store to pick one out for myself. I always hate buying lawnmowers, heck I could say I hate lawnmowers. They are loud, smelly, obnoxious things that have the constitution of an anemic, anorexic diva. One little thing pushes them from their comfort zone and they give up the ghost and refuse to work. When you have someone look at them to see what the problem is, the answer is often, "I can fix it, but it will be cheaper on you if you went and bought a new one."

I am not hard on my tools at all, and even following all the instructions provided in the three page owner's manual, (ok fifteen pages, but with five languages squeezed in there) I have never had a push mower last more than three years.

I grumbled about these experiences as we mulled around several isles of push mowers. Prices have gone up more than I had anticipated and I started to feel sick about the money I was about to flush down the drain on this deal. Then I saw my salvation.

It was a rotary blade push mower made by Fiskars. At first I joked with my wife about it. "Maybe I should just get that one."

Then I started to think about it more seriously, and what was a joke became a serious consideration. It was no more money than the other push mowers. It was geared at the wheels to make pushing easier than these mowers had been in the "old days" New ideas applied to old technology gets me every time.

I bought it, and so far I am so glad I did.

It took a little adjusting to my technique, you have to cut with momentum behind you, and it took a little tweaking to set the blades right, just like setting a smoothing plane, but it provides a nice cut to the grass. It;s lighter to push than the gas powered versions. I don't have to make a interupted trip to the gas station halfway through the job because I ran out of gas and forgot to fill the can. I don't have to buy gas and oil and keep it in my garage any longer. I don't have to wear ear plugs while I mow. I can let go of it and pick up a stick that blew out of my trees and then go back to mowing without restarting it or lashing the lever down to the handle against the manufacturer recommendations. I can mow early in the morning or late at night without disturbing my neighbors. And when I pull a couple cotter pins the handle slides off and I can store the mower on the wall of my garage and save the floorspace.

Beyond keeping it clean and making sure the wheels aren't going to fall off, the only real maintenance I need to do is sharpen the blades periodically. Heck my daughters are even finding it easier to mow this way.

As I said, My transformation to a complete luddite may be nearly complete. Who knows what will be next.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. I saw one of these in Lowes and really wanted to try it out; but I have 2 acres of grass. Glad to hear it's working well for you.

  2. Plant wheat, or pasture goats or chickens. Grass that takes care of itself!

  3. I have never owned a gas mower, just a couple different reel mowers. Right now, I use the 18" Lee Valley mower. The Fiskers gets good reviews, but I wouldn't recommend the other cheap/generic reel mowers at the big box stores. I made due with one for a long time, but I should have bought a decent one sooner.


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