Clean slate - Woodshop News

Clean slate

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As you know, I’ve made several shop improvements over the last year that have increased my efficiency and productivity. They’ve also accomplished something I hadn’t expected.

I built a garage shed right about this time last year and moved everything not related to woodworking (yard gear, bicycles, etc.) out of the shop to increase my working space. I then redid my shop lighting many months ago, and wish I had done it years earlier. It’s brighter, with no shadows, and the daylight-rated fluorescents make for perfect photography. Then, after contemplating it for years, I painted the ugliest garage floor in the world, which brightened the shop even more. Further, the painted floor makes the shop seem larger still. Finally, I enclosed almost every open cluttered shelf with face frames and doors, created a permanent home for my compressor (including a retracting hose reel), and replaced a sloppy, haphazard system of hardware and small-parts storage with a custom made wall unit that is as handsome as it is well-organized.

All of this makes work in my shop seem like play – I know where everything is, it’s all easy to get to and use, tasks flow smoothly and, frankly, it’s made me a better woodworker. None of my tools or machinery has changed, but the shop itself is a totally different place.

I never planned to turn my shop into a showplace, but that’s what it’s unexpectedly become and that has prompted me to do something else: become a cleaner woodworker. I’m better now at returning tools were they belong while I work, breaking a bad habit I’ve had for decades. Before, I never bothered with an end-of-the-day cleanup, but now I do. Maybe not a thorough get-out-the-leaf-blower cleaning, but I sweep up and put stuff away now. And that increases my efficiency even more.

In short, I have one good-looking shop now, and even though hardly anyone ever sees it, a sense of pride makes me want to keep it that way.

My shop has always been enjoyable to be in – what shop isn’t? – and I’ve always been proud of what I make in it.

Now I’m proud of the shop itself.

Till next time,

A.J.

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