What price revolution? Here's what a quality torch will cost you these days

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I recently heard about a woman in New York who is buying her third apartment in the city. In addition to her homes on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, both of which face Central Park, she has grabbed a pad in the tony Tribeca neighborhood of lower Manhattan. This convenient pied a terre is costing her over $40 million dollars, not counting her impressive expenditures on remodeling, decorating, and so forth.

When I heard about this, I was struck by an increasingly familiar feeling: the desire to gather up a gang of malcontents and begin stringing up plutocrats.

I'm not sure that the time has come to start buying supplies, but I've been told that fortune favors the prepared; consequently, I've started pricing the necessary supplies for a revolution.Tomorrow's uprising, if it comes, will probably be fought with guns and flamethrowers, the unromantic, high-tech tools of contemporary warfare. However, the middle class, pretentious portion of my personality is somewhat unhappy with that idea. If we are to have a revolution -- and people like the unnamed Tribeca lady really make me itch for one -- I feel like it should be a little more emotionally redolent and historically inclined.

Recently, machetes have become the mob tool of choice, but there is still a lot to be said for the classics: pitchforks, torches, and guillotines. Admittedly, a well-armed fighting force could easily take out a rabble-rousing mob, but if the military also determines that its best interests are served by the violent removal of America's oligarchy, then maybe the rest of us will be able to indulge our inner Madame Defarge. With that in mind, here are a few price points to consider as you plan ways to water the tree of revolution:

Pitchforks
As America has gotten further and further from its agrarian roots, the price of a good pitchfork has really gone through the roof. Admittedly, a basic digging fork runs less than $20, but their shorter length and heavy structure make these forks less than ideal for jabbing in Dick Fuld's ass as you push him up the steps to the guillotine (or gallows, if you prefer). With that in mind, I'd probably go with the Ames 5-tine manure fork, which runs $26.97 at Lowe's. Its forged-steel head is durable, and the cushion grip, while somewhat gaudy, is very comfortable. On the other hand, if you're looking for a top-class, seriously attractive aristocracy-prodder that the grandkids can be proud of, look no further than the Ames 3-tine True Temper Pitchfork. With a classic trident shape, a 48-inch polished wooden handle, a chrome ferrule and blue steel tines, it is both durable and beautiful, at home on the barricades and in the living room!

Torches
Admittedly, torches are pretty easy to make: with a mere 3-foot length of broom handle, a couple of gasoline-soaked rags, and a match, it's possible to create a flickering light source that will strike fear into your friendly neighborhood oligarch. However, before you settle for the merely functional, you might want to consider whether or not you want to invest a little more and get a tool that you can proudly display. BuyTikiTorches.com has a nice selection of polished nickel and copper yard sconces, but the weight and durability of these items is seriously questionable. After all, you don't want to have to stop chasing some shifty fund manager because your torch decided to self-destruct or your arm got tired. With that in mind, I'd suggest going with a bit more restraint and looking into either World Market's colorful bamboo torch lights or, if you're more of a minimalist, Orchos' set of four stainless steel yard torches.

Guillotines
Of course, the big ticket item for any revolution is the guillotine. Lesser revolutionaries might favor the easy-to-construct gallows or the reduced-responsibility shooting squad, but nothing says angry uprising like the stark outline of a guillotine etched against a cloudy, flame-colored sky. While I'm sure that some clever entrepreneur will soon figure out a way to mass-produce these items, the first few will probably have to be cadged together on the spot. With that in mind, it's worth considering prices on a few of the key elements. For example, a blade could probably be fashioned from a 36" by 24" piece of 20-gauge stainless steel, such as the ones offered by Online Metals.com; at $63.83, it's a total bargain. Wages for a good carpenter with 5+ years of experience are a minimum of $18.04 per hour. Eyeballing the project, I'd say that at least 30-40 hours of work are necessary, which means a labor cost of $541.20. Add in the blade, rope, sandpaper, wood, and other incidentals, and you're talking about somewhere around $1,200.

On the bright side, a good guillotine becomes cost effective pretty quickly, especially if you live in an area that was hard-hit by predatory lenders. Moreover, it will make a nice centerpiece for your local "Revolutionary Park," the local attraction that your town will undoubtedly build to celebrate its exciting new historical event. With that in mind, you might want to start taking up a collection in your neighborhood; after all, good carpenters are hard to come by, and are likely to get even rarer in the next few months!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. For his revolutionary persona, he's thinking half George Bailey, half Leon Trotsky, with a pinch of Madame Defarge thrown in for fun.

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