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When I changed my shop clock from daylight saving time, there was a white circle on the wall where it hangs. Although unnoticeable until something covering the wall was removed, the rest of the wall has darkened thanks to my kerosene heater.

My well-insulated garage shop rarely gets colder than 50 degrees, but winter requires a bit more heat for comfortable working conditions. For years, I’ve used a kerosene heater and it’s worked fine as the easiest solution as long as you can put up with the negatives. The heater’s always in the way, no matter where I put it. Traipsing out to the gas station with a 5-gallon can to get kerosene every week or two is a pain, and that can is always in the way. No matter how carefully you fill the heater, you always get some on you. Kerosene heaters smell; you get used to it after a while, but whenever Sally comes home she immediately turns up her nose at the kerosene odor all over the rest of the house… and lingers there for hours after the heater is turned off and the shop closed up for the day.

Then there’s the fact that heating with kerosene is dirty, as evidence by the white circle on the wall behind the clock. For that matter, anything against the wall – from the step ladder leaning against one corner to plastic tool boxes on shelves – leaves a distinctive white spot that the soot (or whatever it is) from that heater can’t get to. Considering that I’m spending more time in the shop than ever, I have to go with something different.

I was in the crawlspace under my house to replace the clothes-drier ducting this spring, and in the process realized that the gas hookup for our kitchen stove is only five feet away from my shop wall. With gas that close, running an extension to the shop and installing a gas heater seems like a no-brainer. I’ll have someone put the pipe in (gas-line installation is something I don’t mess with). I’ve found a heater of the right size and type, and when I get some time in the next two weeks or so I’ll pick it up and install it. Can’t do it sooner, as what seems to be the only downside to switching to gas is that the brand new clamp rack I made in July is smack in the middle of the best spot to mount the heater. 

Household appliances aren’t sexy; they’re things you’ve got to have to get things done. Refrigerator, stove, washer or whatever, they’re things you don’t think about till they’re no longer getting the job done. Then you replace them and stop thinking about them again. And while this new gas heater will certainly be a typical household appliance, because it constitutes a shop improvement, I find I can’t stop thinking about it.

Till next time,


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