Monday, June 28, 2010

Shop Girl: The series

I know I haven't been posting a lot lately, but what can I say? The garden is burning up in this heat and so am I. I have been busy, though, mostly doing mundane chores around the house, such as scraping old paint on the exterior trim of the house in preparation for re-painting. Not exactly the most exciting thing to report. About on par with, well, watching paint dry.

However, thanks to a comment from Lindy on my most recent post and a conversation over lunch on Friday with my good friend Cheryl, I now have an idea for a short summer series. Although I've already done a general, non-specific tour of the wood shop, I haven't spent a whole lot of time explaining my set-up or the tools I have. Part of the reason I've never done so has to do with wanting to encourage more people to embrace the "can-do" life, and worrying that they might feel like they can't do so unless they have this particular whoozit, or that specific whatsit. But lookit, every journey begins with a single tool, and yada, yada, and so on. It has taken me nearly twenty years to get my shop the way I want it, so don't go getting all intimidated by any of this and think the job is so overwhelming that there is no point in starting.

That said, I've learned a lot during those twenty years, about what I like, what I don't like, and what's necessary and what's not. I've built much of it myself, sometimes to get something exactly the way I wanted it, and other times simply because it was fun to do so. The shop has been through several different iterations to arrive where it is at present, which is pretty close to a perfect work flow, given that it is a relatively tiny environment. Like a sailboat, there is very limited elbow room, so everything in the shop has to pull its own weight for the space it displaces.

I'll talk about all of this over the next few weeks, aiming for about a once a week post on the subject. In between I'll try to throw in some posts with the usual summer cycling and garden project mix, since I can't imagine that all of you are going to be fascinated by the wood shop.

First up on the agenda, to be posted in a couple of days, will be an overall look at the "envelope" (structure, lighting, insulation, ventilation), followed by weekly posts on the workbench, tool cabinet, work flow, big tools, hand tools, windows and doors I've built, the shaving horse, wood storage, dust collection, and thorny, persistent problems that keep it from being perfect. If, as we take this tour, you spot something you'd like me to elaborate on, just give me a nudge and I'll put it on the list.


  1. Oh, what a great idea for a series!

  2. I actually will be engrossed by your detailing of the woodshop. My dad was a cabinet builder for more than 30 years and I loved watching him make things! But he was never really interested in teaching me so all the tools are sitting around and I'm itching to use them but.....I just don't know what everything is or how to use it and too proud to ask him :D So yes please blog about all of your cool toys so others can learn!!!

  3. YEAH! I can hardly wait. This is going to be fun :-D

    108 degrees in the Sonoran Desert this afternoon and I spent the day painting my laundry room which is outside in the heat. :(



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