They just don’t make things like they used to…

Pessimistic and curmudgeonly as this sounds, I wish that more things were built to last, like in the old days.

I’ve never had a portable cassette player that was as indestructible as my first one, a hand-me-down Panasonic. It was heavy and bulky, and it lasted, to my embarrassed pre-teen dismay, for years. But after tearing through a few cheapie cassette players, I realized I didn’t know what I had and quality like that was gone, existentially, into the dustbin of history.

Among the many tools I’ve inadvertently pilfered from my dad’s garage over the years, is an ancient Black and Decker jigsaw. It’s the only electric saw that feels right in my hand. The only problem was that the 20-year-old saw screamed like a pack of hellhounds. I hoped to replace it with one I might give to my future kids.

Too bad the new model suffers from a fatal design flaw: a spring-loaded lever secures the blade (and allows for quick blade changes) front to back, not side to side. The result is that the blade rests askew a few degrees, and within a few inches into a cut, the blade has traveled about 1/8″ to the left, even with clamps and a rip cut guide.


The old model secured the blade with a rock-solid flat-head machine bolt. Changing blades took one minute, tops. What was Black and Decker thinking? What potential jigsaw buyer doesn’t already own a screwdriver? Sacrificing basic function for a dispensable design feature is bad design. And when a tool shows signs of planned obsolescence, it’s a terrible sign of the times.

Like all shitty manufactured goods at the mercy of global trade agreements, Walmart and an insatiable consumer culture, this jigsaw was built to last for about one or two seasons, not one or two generations. Jigsaw for 2008, landfill for eternity.


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