TOOL

Jet 708521 JWP-12DX 12½ Portable Planer

Price: $349.99

FEATURES:

  • 16 amp motor
  • Four-post support system
  • Hand wheel easily adjusts cutterhead height
  • Resharpenable high-speed steel knives
  • One-year limited warranty
  • Accepts meat

The tool in question is a bench top planer, and the object that I would insert through the planer’s opening until it emerged shaved, or shaven, from the other end, the object that I would seek to plane, since I would not be inserting the item a planer is intended to plane, namely a piece of wood, was a frozen log of pancetta.

This frozen log of pancetta—picture a tube of Tollhouse slice n’ bakes, but made of the very best bacon—had been circling my life for over a year. It had become (the pancetta) in my mind, inedible.

Thus I would plane it in a bench top planer, parsing it into paper-thin sheets of baconia, which I might hang in my shop, for reasons I choose not to disclose.

But which planer? DeWalt, Ryobi, Makita, Jet? And why a bench top rather than a stationary planer? A stationary planer might suck so much power out of the panel box that my wife, circling a far room of the house, might be killed, or at least spectacularly, suddenly, disrobed. Which planer would produce the least snipe, i.e., the jagged gouges at the tail end of a piece of wood emerging from the planer? What about tear-out? What about dust and dust collection?

I decided, first of all, that snipe, on a piece of pancetta newly thinned in the planer, would not matter. It would look as though someone’s father had gotten at it in the night and tried to eat it, maybe broken a tooth in its marbled fat.

Next, planers are notorious for the dust they generate. Since they reduce the thickness of what is put inside of them, that reduced thickness, which in the case of wood is dust or shavings, must go somewhere, and one is especially keen to keep it first from piling up in a mound on the shop floor, and then, if it is fine enough, of circulating microscopically through the air, where one might inhale it, perilously, and be brought at last to one’s knees.

Could one inhale bacon dust? If one could eat bacon, why could one not inhale microscopic particles of it? Might there be a microscopic food fan, allowing a man to simply walk through rooms of pulverized food, inhaling the nutritious air?

I called an expert, using her home number, and we spoke for a long, long time.

Unfortunately, I cannot share the answer I received, but the answer, if such that it was, comforted me in more ways than I expected and made me feel truly soothed, maybe for the first time in my life, so soothed, in fact, that I not only fed my pancetta into the mouth of the planer one childish afternoon (wearing the pork-handling gloves I received at work), but then, after hanging my sheets of baconia over a south-facing window, thus producing a new effect: sunlight refracted through paper-thin fat, I stepped up my efforts with the planer to include books, books, and more books, realizing that my Jet benchtop planer would not pulp and destroy these books, but rather create their essence, a plug of book product, a bottleable version that I would bring first down to the general store, then to the neighborhood website on the hill, which has a backyard e-commerce solution that would sell this book dust for me at a large, large profit.

I planed books by Hemingway and Updike, and stored my result in clear glass amulets, which now hang just inside my drying sheets of baconia, soaking up the light of my workshop window. Some days when a book comes in the mail, I know that instead of reading it, which I have done before and never been properly saved by, I might take it out and give it to the mouth of the Jet, where it will make an essence of that book finer than any the author probably ever intended, and I might hang that essence in my window, where I can look at it whenever I desire.

—Ben Marcus

Ben Marcus is the author of The Father Costume, Notable American Women, and The Age of Wire and String.

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