Tuesday, December 8, 2009

School is almost done for the year. It must be time to clean out the woodshop.

The weather has turned cold on us, making the thought of working outside rather unappealing, even for someone who hates to be inside for any reason. So as soon as classes have ended on Wednesday, I'm headed to my woodworking shop to work on reducing a backlog of projects. I haven't done any woodworking in a while, though, so that means that the shop is in some disarray. I'll need to get in there and clean it up before I can start the real work.

By comparison, this is what it looks like in summer, just after sunrise:

The shop is tiny; it is a former single car garage, original to our 1940's house. But if I keep it very, very organized, it is just big enough for my needs. In the summer, I throw these doors open to the outside world:

The screen doors keep the mosquitoes at bay in late summer. But my favorite thing is to throw those open, too, and use the drive as an extended part of the space. Here's a picture of me working on one of my paddles in warmer times, using the shaving horse I built on a Brian Boggs design, and a spokeshave:

When I built the horse, I personalized it with a walnut heart on the front to symbolize how I feel about the old ways of woodworking. The knobs for the pivot axles are walnut hearts, too:

A shaving horse acts as a foot-operated clamp. You can hold your work tightly, but the advantage is in being able to release it easily and quickly to move it around for different angles. This type of shaving horse is called a "bodger's bench." A bodger was someone who cut down trees to make parts for chairs. The bodgers would move into the woods when it was time to work, living in tents until it was done, and making their benches and carving the chair components right there on site. It was easier to do it that way than to transport the whole tree back to town. There is something appealing to me about the notion of making the tool and doing the work in one fell swoop. It's something McGyver would do.

With his Swiss Army knife.

The shop in summer is a soothing place. Here's the view from my workbench:

Most days, I can work by natural light:

My tools are close at hand, on the wall in a cabinet I made:

The shop originally had only one little window at the back, but we did a remodel of our house and I rescued the windows that would have otherwise gone to the dump. I framed them in myself, and later added insulation and drywall, all of which really helped with the light and regulating the temperature. The white cabinets are a re-purposed bathroom vanity from the same remodel. I also added more incandescent lights and several more electrical outlets (the original only had one of each). A neighbor who is an electrical contractor helped me out with the final steps, so I have no worries about fires breaking out anytime soon. Walu and several more neighbors helped me take down the original overhead door (it was very heavy), from which I made the carriage doors you see now. The door at the rear of the shop is a dutch door, which adds even more light and air.

Of course, none of it looks that neat right now, since Walu and I have spent the last several months cracking the door open just wide enough to throw things inside until we can deal with them later.

Well, later is now. It's time to fire up the heater and get back to work in there.

On tap for the winter's projects:
  • Finish a paddle I promised a friend, many moons ago
  • A compost fence to enclose the farm and keep the chickens inside
  • A new double gate for the end of our drive
  • A chicken coop.
I'll keep you posted on how they all shape up.

Breaking news for my LBB readers: Just got the call that classes are cancelled until 10 AM, owing to hazardous driving conditions. Be safe.

Stay away from my yard.


  1. Beautiful shop! I love it. So nicely organized and a great use of space.

  2. Amazing! You are so talented. What a beautiful place to work. And such beautiful work too.

  3. Dang, you are one impressive woman. That horse is my new envy! And what a beautiful shop!

  4. You wouldn't like to come over here and build me some new kitchen cupboards while school is out?
    I like your new layout too. I'm using the Firefox browser and notice that in Comments, from the second comment onwards the Date and the words "***** said" overlap. Thought I'd mention it though it's pretty trivial :-)

  5. My husband would lust after your workshop, Susan! So neat and tidy and well-stocked. The shorts you were wearing, however, just made me colder as a wicked wind howls around the house here tonight.
    Thank you for your supportive thoughts on my blog. I've received a lot of encouragement and feel rejuvenated.

  6. David--Thanks! Thought you'd appreciate it.

    Michelle--Thanks! It is a beautiful place to work. Sometimes I just go and sit out there, too, because it is a very peaceful space.

    CG--I love that shaving horse like I made it myself. Oh, wait...

    EG--Thanks for letting me know about the overlap. I think I'v fixed it no, but do tell me if it's still messed up. I thought about your garden shed post while I worked on this one, and how much I enjoyed it. I like work spaces.

    Jodi--Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found some encouragement from the 'sphere. And I'm sorry about the shorts photo. It was the only one I had of me working on the shaving horse...

  7. Susan,
    Wow you have the nicest workshop I have seen in some time. My workshop one can barely walk into it. I collect way too much stuff/


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