Thursday, February 19, 2015

Shop Blog Part One - How My Little Slice of Heaven Came to Be

My woodshop is really an extension of our home. I think my kids enjoy it as much as I do. Here's the story of how my little slice of heaven came to be. Just don't call it a garage (chuckle).

I don't have any great "before" pics. You can see my shop in the background of our activities. About five years ago; a tablesaw, drill press, a bench, and my little buddy.

Four years ago, I added a bandsaw, an outfeed table, a crappy jointer/planer combo, and our future dining table.

You get the picture. It was a cluttered 24x22 ft. Two car garage(gasp) that doubled as a woodshop. It had bicycles, car seats, shelves full of camping gear, and so on.

Worse yet, it had no windows. The space was poorly lit with cinder block walls on three sides. I know, probably doesn't sound much worse than what most roll have to roll with, but I wanted to do better. Changes and improvements were slow. This was partly due to finances, and partly due to my skill and knowledge level. Every novice woodworker relates to these obstacles.

Each year with our tax return I would buy another tool or machine or some hand tools. Each year I would make a few pieces of furniture we wanted or needed for our home. It went on this way for three or four years. Slowly I became decent at furniture making. And with my confidence built up, I started to sell some pieces.  

After the winter of 2013, I had delivered my biggest commission to date. Ironically, this sideboard was my first project I posted on the web.

I surprised myself with how well that sideboard turned out. I didn't charge enough for it, but oh well. I really wanted to show people what I could do....and it worked. That sideboard led to several other commissions. I bought this 8" jointer with the proceeds.

Now that I had the means to mill large stock, I could tackle a new bench. I needed a bench that would enable me to work more with hand tools. Of course I had my heart set on one of those built-like-a-bomb-shelter Roubo's. Better yet, I wouldn't let myself build it without at least trying those crazy dovetails legs through the top. I'm glad I did.

I embarked upon that bugger beginning December 2012. Took me about 6 weeks (some vacation time in there). It was a blast to build, and it's now the heart of my shop. My old bench got demoted to sharpening station.

On to the spring of 2013, I was bustin' out a couple more pieces of furniture. My shop looked about like this:

As my friend Jay noted, once you've built a great bench, you feel compelled to bring the rest of your shop up to the level. I guess it was something like that.

This was the next step in my master plan. It's not a's a shed! Yup, a shed to store all the crud in my shop that doesn't have anything to do with woodworking.

Alright, I got all the extra crud out, time to do something about the dungeon feel of my shop. Yup, paint and lights time. 

This part was a little crazy. On a clear day, I hauled everything I could into the driveway. and covered everything else. Then I sprayed white....and more white.

Looks a little different now. Looks open and Big! There's some shifting around of machines. There's a lumber storage rack (above the bandsaw in pic) that got reassigned as a cutoff rack.

I added some lights and plugs. My time working as an electrician during and after college came in handy.

I still had a large pile of lumber sitting where my wife's minivan is supposed to park (only when it snow's now...snicker). I needed lumber storage. This is what I came up with this Lumber.

Well, this is getting a little long winded. I’ll save the rest for part Two.

Thanks for reading,

Dan Westfall