Hand Tools Archive

The "Prison shop"

Bob Hackett
Up here in Maine they still try to teach skills and find meaningful work for inmates. As a result we still have places the locals call "prison shops" where the work the inmates turn out can be bought by the public. The one closest to me offers solid oak book cases for less than $150, even less if you want unfinished. The work is better than imported furniture, the construction is bullet proof judging from the two that survived my two son`s teenage years and you can even custom order things like moldings and different finishes. All for less than $150 for a standard depth 5 foot tall 3 intermediate shelf bookcase. Plus you get to talk directly to the guys who do the work because they man the shop (with supervision from the MDC).
One of the other approaches I`ve used to appease impatient friends and family who don`t quite understand what it means to be in the middle of a rather complicated project and have someone close appear wanting to derail you is to drive them down to either the local second hand shops or the Habitat for Humanity "re-store" and help them pick out a solid wood piece that we can modify and refinish to get them up and running in a hurry (they`re ALWAYS in a hurry).The best part about this is that they get to participate in the modification and refinishing themselves ( I insist on it). The most repeated phrase during these projects is always, "I had no idea it was so involved/ difficult/ time consuming. Very few have undertaken these types of projects with me and come back wanting anything in a hurry. :D

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