November, 2006
Using an Angle Grinder

Like a lot of other boys, I love my power tools. The one I enjoy most is the angle grinder.

When I was a teenager working on the Battleship Massachusetts, I occasionally used an angle grinder, sometimes with a wire cup for cleaning steel preparatory to repainting and sometimes with a cutting wheel to smooth out steel where the welder had torched off some armor from a gun mount or whatever.

When, years later, I had need to own my own angle grinder, I sought the most powerful one that I could find, which was a three-horsepower Milwaukee drawing fifteen amps. I can assure the uninitiated that that is a delightful amount of power to wield in one's hands. Once, while I was putting a heavy-duty finish on a floor, using a ram's wool bonnet to buff paste wax, I blinked —that is, I lost focus for a half a heartbeat. The machine grabbed the cord of the Electrolux I had nearby; wrapped the cord around itself and a few of my favorite fingers; and started swinging the Electrolux around before I could stop the it. This thing is big fun!

Thus, when an automotive transaxle turned up in the woods, where it plainly did not belong, I was ready. It weighed a couple of hundred pounds and was articulated, so it was not something to toss in the trunk of my car without harming the car or me or both. It needed cutting. Yay!

The cutting wheel, which had once been seven inches, was almost too small to use when I started this job, and by now it was indeed too small to make any more cuts. I had to return with a new wheel a couple of weeks later. When I did the final cutting, depicted below, the sun had set. I really like this photo of me, perhaps because it reminds me of life in general: explosive, chaotic, and beautiful.

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