The Amish carpenter who converted this machine from electric to gas may not consider it a hack. But it is.

And I mean that as a compliment; hacking a tool means altering it in such a way that it better suits the needs of the operator.  The photos of these saws were given to me by an Ohio man who subcontracted the construction of his new home. Some of the tradesmen he hired were Amish and they have strict beliefs about the use of technology. For many Amish, it is forbidden to use  electric tools, or tools that are powered by the electrical grid. But that doesn't mean they want – or can afford – to use old-fashioned methods.

It may not have been intentional, but I like the way Ridgid’s orange more or less matches Stihl’s.

It may not have been intentional, but I like the way Ridgid’s orange more or less matches Stihl’s.

As you can see from the photos, the original motor has been removed from a Ridgid sliding compound miter saw (model MS1290LZA) and replaced by a Stihl chainsaw motor. The chainsaw motor is attached to a home-made bracket that is bolted to the back of the slide arms and rigged to the pulley that spins the arbor. It's hard to tell from this angle, but it looks like a trigger has been added to the grip and connected to a throttle cable that runs to the motor.

This must be one powerful saw; for the carpenter's sake I hope it's geared in such a way that the arbor can't spin faster than the blade is rated for. Besides being louder (and gassier) than an electric miter saw, it must feel strange to cut with variable speed, which is normal for linear blades (jig saws and recip saws) but not for circular ones.

The person who built this contraption was not only clever; he had a sense of rightness. Otherwise, he would not have bothered to paint the home-made stand green – though he could have done a better job matching the color.

The person who built this contraption was not only clever; he had a sense of rightness. Otherwise, he would not have bothered to paint the home-made stand green – though he could have done a better job matching the color.

The carpenters on this jobsite also had a Grizzly table saw with electric motor removed. The saw and a gasoline motor are attached to a home-made wooden stand and connected to a common drive shaft by belts and pulleys. The drive shaft runs between pillow blocks that are bolted to the stand.

The conversion of these saws to gas is a good example of hacking and the old saying, "where there's a will there's a way".