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This is our fifth winter in West Virginia, and for the first time since we moved here we’re really experiencing winter. And for the first time, it’s affecting my woodworking.

People assume, when they hear “West Virginia,” that I must live in the south. Not so. We live in Williamstown, right on the Ohio River, and we’re actually farther north than Cincinnati. However, the river valley has – until this year – had a moderating effect on winter. Columbus and Pittsburgh, which are not much farther north than us, and Charleston, W.Va., about 90 miles south of us, can get hammered when a storm system comes through here. But all the bad weather usually seems to go up and over our river valley, leaving us mostly snow- and ice-free.

Not this year. While the snowfall hasn’t been oppressive, it’s been frequent. The most recent snow was followed by an ice storm, followed by a bit more snow. The temperatures, which usually aren’t hateful here, have been steadily in the low 20s for weeks. Local schools have been closed every day this week. My car doors are all frozen shut. It’s been almost three weeks since my lunatic neighbor has mowed her lawn. (Then again, maybe she has – there’s an odd, person-shaped mound of snow in her front yard with lawnmower tracks leading up to it.)

My shop is in our two-car garage, which shares two walls with the house. The other wall and the door are insulated, so the shop temperature in the winter rarely drops below, say, 48 degrees. Not lately. My shop is about 35 degrees right now (it’s 25 outside), and my kerosene heater has a hard time keeping up. Just getting the shop up to a workable temperature takes an hour or more.

I’ve moved most of my glue and finishes inside this year, something I’ve never really had to do before, and I’ve finished a few projects in the house instead of the shop.

In short, I’m just not getting a lot done. Weather has always been a factor in my woodworking, and I’m used to warming up my finishes in the winter and dressing for heat in the summer, but the weather has never affected my woodworking like this.

I am not a happy guy.

Till next time,

A.J.

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