What Is Your Most Essential Tool?

What Is Your Most Essential Tool?

Published on Friday, March 17, 2017. This article appears in the February/March 2017 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Department Voices
Author Staff
Dylan Weller Workbench

Dylan's workbench 

Dylan Weller

The most essential tool in our shop is the trim router. We strive for work that is both beautiful and intelligent, and this versatile tool has a hand in how we express that balance. The trim router allows us to create seamlessly rounded edges as well as hidden details in our door and drawer pulls. With it, we can blend pieces that at first glance appear to be carved out of one solid piece of hardwood. ~Abir Ali and Andre Sandifer, furniture designers and makers, Detroit

My most essential tool is probably my planer. I use this tool almost every day. It is a combination of being extremely powerful and easy to handle. I use it for a variety of applications. ~ Katie Gong, interior designer, installation artist, maker, San Francisco

I use hand tools almost exclusively, and I have many favorites, but most of them would be useless without my workbench holding things in place. I made the bench following an 18th-century French design. It serves as a constant reminder to me of the enduring traditions of the craft. ~Dylan Weller, woodworker, Santa Fe, NM

I am a Native American basket weaver; my 10,000-year heritage defines who I am. My favorite tool is my awl, which I made from a deer bone. This awl does not rip plant fibers as I weave, while metal awls can. It also holds tension as I weave and helps shape the basket. ~Pat Courtney Gold, basketweaver, Portland, OR

My most essential tool varies depending on the work that I am making at the time, but my 118-pound Peter Wright anvil gets lots of use, whether I am hammering out ingots, forming bracelets, or adding texture. It was handed down to me from a friend who used it for 30-plus years. It’s a very important tool to me. ~Nick Lundeen, jeweler, Brooklyn, NY