Can’t work without it

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We’ve talked before about the most important (or favorite) tool in the woodshop. But which one is the most essential?

That’s easy: It’s the tool you need most at any particular moment. In some cases, until you use that one specific tool you can’t proceed to the next step and everything grinds to a halt.

And sometimes, the tool causing the trouble is the least expected. In my case, it’s my camera.

Since I write about – and illustrate – woodworking for a living, my camera is often the most important tool I own. Even when I’m not building something for a book or magazine article, I still tend to document what I’m doing for future reference. For simple documentation my cell phone does fine, but for publication I need my “work” camera.

And right now, I don’t. I’m building a very simple project for a magazine article – a doll cradle that will appear in print around Christmas time. It’s based on photos of an antique cradle, but redesigned somewhat so that even beginning woodworkers will find it an easy build. But like most how-to articles, I need to shoot step-by-step photos to illustrate the process.

And I don’t have my camera right now. It started acting wonky a few weeks ago, and last week I completely lost the ability to focus properly, turning it into a very expensive paperweight. I’ve still continued with some of the steps, but until I get my camera back from the shop the project is at a standstill.

It’s an odd – and very disconcerting – feeling. Everything is going right, I have the time to work, my materials are ready and waiting, and I’ve even prepared many of the components already. But I can’t take another step without what is, at this particular moment, my most essential tool.

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