About 30 years ago my dad welded up a reciprocating hacksaw from bits of bicycle parts, angle iron, and washing machines. Last week I found it in a barn under a bunch of other junk. I dug it out and brought it home to play with, and to admire his cleverness.
Dad was a tinkerer in a very old school way. He built my first bicycle from iron pipe and cart wheels, and it had a v-pulley drive. I loved it even though it weighed more than I did at the time.
Over the years he created a lot of useful tools from scrap parts - in that same barn sits an air compressor he cobbed together from the parts of a 1959 Olds 'air ride' suspension system. Oldsmobile coupled a two-cylinder compressor to the power steering pump and placed air cylinders in the chassis. These were a disaster and Dad converted many of them to conventional suspension (and kept the old parts ). More about that barn later...
So back to the hacksaw - I scraped 30 year old crud from it, plugged it in, and it lit right off. I have a 1 1/2" x 2" piece of CRS I cut a piece from manually a few weeks ago and know it takes well over an hour, three blades, and lots of sweat. I clamped this to the table and without even looking at the blade, hit the power switch. Half an hour later I had a nice 1/4" piece of CRS in my hand.
In looking back, I too have made some lasting things from bits and pieces but I can see that life for me was always very different for the old coal miner turned auto mechanic and tinkerer. When possible I bought what I needed where he built it from scratch. My stuff has clean lines and nice paint and Chinese lettering all over it while his stuff has a patina of rust and years of wear marks. Any lettering would be what ever was on the piece before it became a hacksaw or shop fan or compressor. The operating manuals he took to his grave.
There are many more things in that barn in various stages of repair, and they include commercial equipment such as a 7' tall band saw, welders, gas and electric, drill presses, rare hardwoods for pistol grips, a 4-spindle tracer, and more. It was far too dark and wet to take pictures, but this spring we're going to clean out that barn and a couple sheds and see what has salvage value and what is rusted to junk.
Also in the barn is a lot of the scraps Dad had collected for projects he never got around to - I think I'll hang on to that stuff and see if I can keep the family tinkerer's shop alive. It's something to look forward to.