Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Workshop for Lilliputians

June marks the 4th anniversary of the completion of my new workshop. Prior to that, I worked in a basement shop with concrete floors, 6 foot ceilings, exposed lightbulbs, and exposed knob & tube wiring. Dungeon-like.

Yet it was still my favorite place in the house.

I dreamed for 10 years of having an above-ground shop and when I finally decided to have one built, I spent a full year researching heating systems, insulation, material, lighting....everything.

I even built a to-scale model of the shop, complete with all my equipment, just to make sure that everything would fit and that I would be able to tell my builder where to put the outlets. I determined where to put the 18" bandsaw in relation to the back window, so that long boards could stick outside and rest on the sill while I ran them through the blade. The model also helped my builder work up pricing.

The first design had a second story and a finishing room closed off by a sliding door. After my builder told me how much it would cost, reality set in, and both those luxuries were crossed off the list.

The model itself was built hurriedly—just plywood tacked together with brads—but it helped immeasurably when I was able to tell my builder where to put my 300 pound band saw and 400 pound table saw, as he and his helper carried them out of my basement shop and into the new one. They were able to plop them down exactly where I wanted them. I doubt they would have appreciated some lady telling them to "Move the table saw to this wall. Nah, that's not right—move it to that wall instead. A little to the left, no right."

The next sound I would have heard would have been my contractor and his helper slamming the door shut behind them, leaving a trail of expletives in their wake.

Planning for and designing my shop was an exciting journey, and I ended up with a cute little woodworker's dollhouse in the process.