The most important tool in the shop

Posted by RodandDenise on May 25, 2016

We are no longer building saddle trees, but we have two videos about how Western saddles fit horses available on our website.

2016 May 24 1 big band saw.jpg

So what’s the most important piece of equipment in the shop?  Is it the Big Band Saw, that makes those oh-so-important cuts on the bars?

2016 May 24 2 jointer planer.jpg

Or the jointer/planer that makes the wood smooth enough to laminate and gives us the correct stock thickness for every tree?

2016 May 24 3 belt sander.jpg

Or the belt sander that shapes and smooths things so well?

2016 May 24 4 grinder to shape.JPG

Or even the grinders that get so much use to shape all parts of the tree?

Nope. In my opinion, it is none of the above. The thing that is often most vital in the shop to keep things moving along smoothly is (drum roll please!)…

2016 May 24 5 the red pen.JPGThe red pen!!!

Yes, you read that correctly. A little, lowly red Bic pen really is that important. Why?

2016 May 24 6 one order.JPG

Well, it keeps us from making major errors that means we have to redo things or even start from scratch. Here’s an order with a moderate amount of red pen on it. Anything that is out of the ordinary gets written or circled in red pen, so we take note of it and don’t just do “ordinary” when it isn’t.

2016 May 24 7 another order.JPG

Here’s another order. Obviously, this one took a while to finally get settled. Lots of red pen here…

2016 May 24 8 red pen on bars.JPG

And it doesn’t stop there. When I mark out the wood for Rod, the red pen is used again to say “THIS IS DIFFERENT. DON’T DO NORMAL!!!” For example, in this case Rod needs to use a different set of jigs than normal for both the cantle and the fork. If he doesn’t, the cuts won’t match the other pieces and they won’t fit together to set the tree up properly..

2016 May 24 9 red pen on fork.JPG

Same thing on the fork. This is a stood up fork, and if he doesn’t change the angle he cuts the bottom at, it won’t fit on the bars. If he gets that right but doesn’t change the top cut angle, it will look really silly, and really silly isn’t quite our signature style…

2016 May 24 10 red pen on cantle.JPG

The cantle, too, gets marked to ensure things are correct. When I was explaining how to mark out everything to one of our students, I could almost see the thinking going on. “Do they really make that many mistakes? How hard can it be to keep it straight?” He learned…

So the red pen keeps us from wasting a lot of time and wood, which is why I say it is the most important piece of equipment in the shop

2016 May 24 11 chisel.JPG

Closely followed by the “I use it for everything so don’t you dare sharpen it!” chisel…

2016 May 24 12 screwdriver.JPG

Or MY screwdriver…

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