My Favorite Tool - Dan Peterson

“My favorite tool…”  What a dangerous remark.  Like talking about one’s favorite truck, or dog, or child, it’s impossible to really anoint one a ‘favorite’.  And even if you could, the others would somehow get wind of it and rebel, leading you to wish you had said you loved them all the same.  Which is probably more the truth. 

But when working with wood, one thing is universal, and that’s the need to cut it.  To remove material in order to rearrange it, like breaking eggs to make an omelet.  Which means something sharp.  Since long before recorded history humans have been using sharp objects to make smaller things out of bigger ones.  And nearly everything in my shop is a variation on that prehistoric technology.  Saw blades of so many shapes, sizes, and configurations, chisels, planes, spoke shaves, heck even sand paper is a collection of gajillions of little sharp objects arranged to remove material. 

So what is the one that gets used the most?  It is probably a tie between the table saw and the sandpaper.  My table saw has become like an extension of my body.  For years, I did all my work with much smaller and simpler tools, but some years ago I finally bought a table saw.  Since then it has become hard to recall how I ever did without.  I’ve had a few close calls with injury or worse, but luckily so far (knock on a nice piece of wood) ample respect and attention have led only to a great relationship with that now indispensible tool.  Unlike the sandpaper, the table saw is the tool that makes every project so much simpler to accomplish. 

And then there’s the sandpaper.  A love-hate relationship.  I love the feel of well-finished wood under my fingers.  After all the cutting, and of course then the joinery to make the new shapes, the inevitably rough product has to be smoothed.  The late great Sam Maloof, the master, used to say that a piece of finished woodwork should beg to be touched (paraphrased), and he encouraged it.  I love this sentiment and subscribe to it completely.  But in order to feel good under my fingers, any piece has to be sanded, and sanded, and sanded, using finer and finer and finer-grit sandpaper, until every last miniscule scratch is out.  And then do it some more with fine steel wool.  Then apply the finish.  Then sand and sand again, and apply the finish again.  And again, and again.  It is laborious, but the result is….well, if you don’t know, you can come to our Open Studio at catalog location #17 in Nipomo on October 8 or 9 and feel for yourself.  Hope to see you there.  

Saws
Table Top Pieces
Rough Table Pieces
Sanding Table
Sanding Dust
Completed Table
Saws
Saws
Table Top Pieces
Table Top Pieces
Rough Table Pieces
Rough Table Pieces
Sanding Table
Sanding Table
Sanding Dust
Sanding Dust
Completed Table
Completed Table