At A Trade Show, Power Tools Fit For The Amish

Play associated audio

The Buckeye Tool Expo in Dalton, Ohio, is held in a massive hall filled with bearded men in black hats and women in white bonnets. A few horses and buggies are tied up outside.

The Amish have chosen to forgo many of the delights of the modern world, but they still need to drill, sand and cut wood. This trade expo shows off all the loopholes that let the Amish get their hands on power tools.

One table has the kind of loud, candy-colored machines you might drool over at Home Depot. But instead of running off of electricity (which many Amish people don't use), the tools are powered by compressed air.

"It's almost unlimited the tools you can convert to air," the guy behind the counter tells me. "Drills, impact wrenches, saws, table saws."

There are more than a hundred vendors at the show, all selling some Amish twist on technology.

The Amish were traditionally farmers, but in recent years, more young Amish men have started working in trades, like making furniture and cabinets — the kind of work where a power tool can bring in a lot more money.

But the more technology the Amish adopt, the more technology they need. So, for instance, as some of the Amish built bigger workshops and factories, they found out that gas lamps just weren't working.

So Elva Otto, an Amish man, launched a company called Day Star to sell industrial skylights — special reflective tubes that funnel sunlight from the roof down into the workshop. It's a way to get more light without using electricity.

"Most people can take something and plug it into the wall," Otto says. "We can't use electricity for this, so then we get creative and figure out how to make something work."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

How A Music Writer Learned Trust Is The Ultimate Backstage Pass

Lisa Robinson knows how to talk — and how to make others, especially musicians, want to talk. The veteran rock journalist speaks with NPR's Wade Goodwyn about her four decades behind the scenes.
NPR

Can Wal-Mart Really Make Organic Food Cheap For Everyone?

The giant retailer says it's adding a new line of organic food that's at least 25 percent cheaper. But a large-scale production and supply of organic food likely can't be achieved overnight.
NPR

Obama Adds Malaysia To His Asia Itinerary

Obama travels to Malaysia next week, where the government is under fire for the handling of a missing airliner. NPR's Wade Goodwyn talks to Josh Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations.
NPR

Watch For The Blind Lets You Feel Time Passing

A new watch allows the blind to feel time on their wrists. Designer Hyungsoo Kim tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn his watch allows users to tell time accurately without revealing their disabilities.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.