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A longshot pays off and a new shop rises

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It’s been a good day. Not my best, mind you, ranking far behind the day I met my wife, the day my son was born, the 15 days I went to Jimmy Buffett concerts and the day I watched college basketball at the ESPN studios and met Dick Vitale in the men’s room. But it’s still a pretty darn good day.

Here’s why: We finally got a building permit to construct my new shop.

OK, ‘new’ is a bit of a stretch. My previous shops, if you can call them that, have consisted of two milk crates and a circular saw, two sawhorses and a miter saw, a one-car garage without power (it took two extension cords to reach the nearest outlet) and the back of my Jeep. I’ve got tools and machines spread over two counties, in basements and closets, some still in their original boxes. A real shop has been on the bucket list for some time but the stars have never aligned until now.

Here’s the quick background story that might interest only me: The reality of turning our standalone garage, one that’s too small to actually fit the cars we drive, into a shop started when my wife asked for a potting shed — perhaps a lean-to off the garage with a dry sink. I seized the opportunity.

What if, I boldly suggested, we build a proper shed off the back of the garage to store our trove of lawn mowers, weed whackers and rakes — tools I’m constantly rearranging to reach the garbage and recycling bins? To my surprise, the idea had merit, so I started sketching and ended up with a bigger garage and an attached shed in the back that won’t be seen from the street.

Before long, we’re shopping for a builder and going through the permit process, which required a variance because of a wetlands issue. What I thought was a longshot was relatively easy to achieve. Go figure.

By the time you read this, the shop and shed will have been built. Construction will commence the week I’m at the AWFS fair in Las Vegas, so I’ll miss most of the fun of seeing my dream become reality. It will be a modest shop — roughly 16’ x 16’ — with plenty of electrical outlets, a couple of windows, lots of lights and a large door. It will be insulated and eventually heated for year-round use. It will have proper dust collection and an electrical lockout to prevent unauthorized use. The layout is to be determined, but I’ve got lots of ideas from visiting hundreds of shops and a stack of magazines saved through the years.

It won’t be a professional shop, just a place to enjoy woodworking. I’d like to build cabinets, make some furniture and get into turning. I’m quite sure the demands of being a father, husband, magazine editor and golfer will keep me out of the shop for long stretches, but it will exist and, for now, that’s enough.

Even better days lie ahead.

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue.

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