Hand Tools Archive


Ellis Walentine
It's more like the Vernal Equinox than the Ides, but here's our bi-monthly question for your valued input.

I've been burning the midnight oil in my shop building stuff for our new house. It's been great putting in full days in my element, especially since I don't have to do it for someone else. But, since we'll be selling our current place -- and, with it, my really nice workshop -- I'm having to rethink the whole concept of "shop." The thought of setting up another shop -- the building, utilities, wiring, dust collection, layout & assembly areas, stock prep, finishing, storage -- is more than I'm willing or able to deal with -- been there, done that several times. The other dimension to this is that I'm not exactly getting any younger, and y'never know when some shoe is going to drop on your head. So, I don't want to waste my remaining good years starting over. But, I can't imagine living without a sanctuary of some sort.

I have resigned myself to having a small place dedicated simply to escaping to the pleasures of hand work, design and contemplation -- and whatever projects pop up to amuse me or absolutely need to be done. It's time to draw the line on big projects that require lots of room, large machines and copious amounts of time and stress. A bench, a band saw, a lathe, a drill press, a bunch of prized hand tools will have to do; and I can wedge those into a pretty small space. If I have the time, energy and motivation to build another house or kitchen or large furniture, I'll just have to cultivate arrangements with other local woodworkers who have the necessary equipment.

This long-winded introduction is leading up to my question(s) of the month for you: Do you have an exit strategy from your current mode of work? Will you always have a shop? What will your last shop look like compared to what you have now? What sorts of things can you imagine doing in the shop as you get on in years? Are there unfinished projects on your bucket list that you are really motivated to accomplish before you're through?

It really comes down to what part woodworking plays (and has played) in your life and where you'd like to go from here. What are your plans -- or your best guesses -- and we'll pass your replies (ruthlessly edited, of course) to Woodworker West magazine for our next (number 105!) column, "News & Views from WoodCentral.com." This question is more about your outlook and rationale than about the nuts and bolts of your transition, but specifics are also welcome.

And, I promise, this will be the last geezer question for a while. ;)

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on all this.

Ellis Walentine, Host

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