Turning Archive 2007

Shop tours

Rod Peterson -- Ormond Beach
>After what seems like a long dry spell, there apparently is a rekindling of interest in shop tours. Many of you may not know that the Shop Tours section of WoodCentral is ShopTours.org, administered by yours truly (and hosted by Fred Reitberger, essentially a silent benefactor). Ellis was generous enough to include it on the masthead as an official  (whatever that entails) associate of the WoodCentral family.

I've also had some enquiries as to what's wanted/needed to get a tour posted. Well, if you post it at WoodCentral on the Message Boards, I'll grab it and convert it. I don't stray much from there, though, so if you put one up at Turning, Hand Tools, or Carving, please let me know so I can get it. Please note that Shop Shots and Shop Tours are not the same and are not administered by the same person (David Yoho does an admirable job on 'Shots). I've come to learn that there are a couple of actual tours that got posted there that I need to grab and add to the library. If someone wants to contribute theirs directly to me, that's fine, too.

One of the most frequent questions has to do with pictures (size). Here are some guidelines, both pictures and general:

Because I'm still on dialup, I'd prefer not to get 18 pictures of 1200x1600 px size, especially in one email (in fact my server will reject that combo outright). If you have the capability to resize, make them no smaller than 500px in the vertical dimension (in other words, 500h x 667w—landscape; or 500h x 375w—portrait). I don't care what the density is—with those dimensions, everything will be fine. I'll take care of the thumbnails. If you only have a half dozen of the 1200x1600, just send them over that way and I'll size them myself. But for a half dozen, please split it up into a couple of emails. More than a half dozen, contact me, or just resize.

Unless you already have 25 pictures in your shop tour (and I'd rather you didn't—someone has to pay for that bandwidth), think of including a picture of a project you've made in it. And in line with bandwidth conservation (insofar as we address it), your shop pet probably belongs on a pet tour page. And I'm a dog person, so I understand.

Throw some narrative together. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but a thousand and fifty or eleven hundred are even better. Plus, even though you know that the jointer is to the right of the drill press, it's not always that easy to convey or obvious in the pictures. Written perspective is very helpful.

From the feedback I've gotten over the years, people want to know the size of your shop. In fact, that's the number one question. Sometimes you don't quite know, so if you can't measure or guess, something like “half the basement,” “just the utility room,” “a two car garage,” or the like will be better than nothing and go a long way toward their comprehension of what you're working in.

Viewers want to know about your tools, particularly if you have some old arn. You can tell about your old Lionel blurfl that you replaced with your new Whizbang if you want, but it's the new stuff (or at least the regularly used stuff) folks want to see and hear about. If you did a poor widder lady wrong, that may be worth the tale (try to be contrite). If you inherited Granddaddy's handplane collection, share the magnificence of that sentimental possession. Don't forget your clamp collection and your dust collector. And this will be redundant to neanderthals, but Normites often don't think about it: your quiet tools are just as interesting and important as the ones with tails.

Do not be concerned about your writing—at all. I'll take care of grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. I've been doing some of that on WoodCentral articles the past two years, and I put my wife through college a few years ago punching up her papers. In fact, even if you don't feel as if you can put together a coherent narrative, just give me some general information to work with and I'll make you look respectable (see ShaneL for endorsement).

Also, don't hire a maid. I don't know of a single woodworker (even the OCD ones the rest of us hate because you can eat off their floor) who doesn't understand what shop  means when it comes to dust and/or debris. I have one friend, whom I tease mercilessly, who once posted what was essentially a storage area jumble of tools. Made me feel neat, and that's an accomplishment. That was a long time ago—I hope he got his barn organized.

When we started doing shop tours at Badger Pond we followed the forum policy of a real name (first and last to make categorization easy). I've continued that. It furthers the feel of community that Badger Pond had and WoodCentral continues. Ellis is less dogmatic about that at WoodCentral, so if you really, seriously, despite assurances from others, have angst over your name being seen on the internet, make one up, but because of the way the main page is laid out, I won't put up a tour from “dustdevil” (apologies to dustdevil, if there really is one).

I've had several requests over the years for contact information of a shop owner. I'm sure they're legitimate, particularly because they usually had a specific point they wanted to address. However, I've never directly given out an email address, even if I knew it, and I don't know most of them. I always contacted the party, if I could. That won't change. I'm ready, however, to include your email address if you want to. You can munge it to defeat the spiders (like LRod@poboxtrash.com—take out the trash), if you want. I won't post it, though, unless you specifically tell me to.

Generally speaking, we've eschewed commercial shops over the years. Despite my admiration for someone who can make a living at woodworking, a commercial shop just doesn't have the cachet of a home shop. There's something special about a home shop that people want to see. It's like wanting to see your backyard landscaping rather than your commercial nursery.

Fred tells me that ShopTours.org gets a lot of traffic, and I'm eager to get back in business. I've even updated the template for individual tours to reflect the WoodCentral affiliation, and I'll do the same for the main page soon. I don't know when I'll get to the other individual pages—there're over a hundred. So get out the broom and camera, and get busy. We're dying to see where you work. Oh, you old-timers shouldn't forget to update your five (or more) year old tour, either. Please ask questions, if you have any.


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