That’s No Garage, That’s My Shop   5 comments

Here’s the picnic table in its original wood stain, circa 1987.

It was about 15 years ago that I built my own workbench: a rite of passage for any woodworker.

After making my first project in Junior High, and then working my way through college building in the Mizzou scene shop, I was very much a DIYer throughout our early family years. After making bookcases out of plywood to hold our album collection in our first apartment, I continued to make things for our home. In our first house, it was about outdoor living: a wooden fence. A patio cover. The picnic table that I made is still with us, 32 years later.

The Easton Press collectible books are pretty. They read well, too.

In our second home, I really got busy. Space saver closets. A breakfast nook. More patio furniture. End tables. Loft beds for the boys. An entertainment center. A desk.

I’m sitting at that desk to write this post. It’s been my official office since I stopped my daily commuting on the LA Freeways in 2009.

It wasn’t until I decided to make a Christmas gift for my mother, though, that things began to get dicey.

Yes. I blame my mother.

Mom, you see, has this obsession with snowmen. I decided I would make her a snowman routed bowl, and that prompted a whole slew of other bowls in different shapes and sizes. I chronicled that process in one of my early blog posts, Making A Snowman.

Once I had made a couple of dozen bowls (!), I commented to who would become the elder Mrs M that the same technique for making bowls is how you would make cutting boards.

Major mistake, that. Life altering, even.

She immediately said, “Make me a cutting board.”

OK, so I made 5 in that first batch, and gave 4 of them away that Christmas. Velda’s board got another one of those early blog posts, which you can read, here. The picture is not very good, though; here’s a better picture from when I restored her board a couple of years later:

Velda’s Cutting Board. Goncalo Alves (Tigerwood), Black Walnut, Honey Locust, Jatoba & Cherry. Edge grain, and 2 years old as shown. 16″ x 21″ x 1-1/4″.

From there, it was just a hop & a skip to what has become Mr M’s Woodshop. Our 2 car garage hasn’t seen a car in more than a decade. It’s become the center of my seriously out of control hobby … with about 450 square feet of dedicated space.

The problem? The shop is bulging at the seams. I’m working in a mess right now. The main culprit, I’ve decided, are the piles & piles of end cuts and off cuts that I’ve collected and refuse to throw away. Hardwood doesn’t come in nice even-sized boards, unfortunately. Some are 8′ long. Some are 9′. Or 10′ … or any length up to 16′. The widths are similarly variable, from 4″ up to, in rare cases, 14″. When I do what I do, I inevitably have the odd bits & pieces left over, and those are the hardest parts to use. They require TLC. They require special sizes. They require individual glue-ups; there’s no efficiency here.

So, those cut offs keep waiting for the next open slot on the calendar to get cleaned up … and I keep filling those slots with special projects.

Like the 2 I’m working on this week.

Oh, and did I mention I’ve got a new tool coming? That tool is the solution to some of these cut-offs, thankfully, so I want to save those cut-offs until I have time to process then with the new tool.

It’s about time. It’s about space.

And I hope my result is better than that of the obscure 1967 TV series from the creator of “Gilligan’s Island” with that lyric for an opening theme.

So, in all of its glory, here is the over-used chaos I call my garage workshop, before its transformation with the mandatory cleaning and new tool placement that will be the solution to my problem.

I hope.


5 responses to “That’s No Garage, That’s My Shop

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  1. Face it, my friend – that is what a “WORK” shop looks like!!

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  4. I don’t feel so bad looking at the chaos which is my garage/ workshop/ storage any more 😁

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