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In the heat of the moment

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This is the hottest, most humid summer I can remember in years. The relentless heat this summer has affected my woodworking, and probably yours, too.

As you may know from my blogs last winter, I bought and installed a gas heater in my shop, a converted two-car garage. I work in shirtsleeve comfort most of the time, but this heat wave has been exceptional. Here’s how I’ve been coping, or trying to anyway.

My shop is off the kitchen, with a small laundry room connecting the two. I’ve been leaving the kitchen and shop doors open, and have placed my shop floor fan in the laundry, directing cool house air into the shop. This has helped to mitigate the heat somewhat, keeping the shop about five degrees below outside temperature. Further, since I’m blowing house air into the shop, it’s somewhat less humid, which also helps. (Of course, this also means an increase of woodworking dust in the house but that can’t be helped.)

But when it’s in the mid to upper nineties outside, that five degrees still means it’s near 90 in the shop on some days. I’ve got rusty handprints on every cast iron tool. Sweat drops have literally raised the grain on some of the stuff I’ve been working on, and sanding dust sticks to sweaty skin like dry rub on a barbecued chicken. Everything in the shop has that summer-camp stickiness to it. The humidity is affecting anything that needs to dry properly. And it’s been so uncomfortably hot that I’ve started making errors in my work. Still, I’m up against a book deadline, so work out there I must.

The access to our attic is in my shop ceiling, so at night I’ve been pulling down the attic steps, allowing the heat buildup of the day to rise up and out of the shop a bit. Of course, since the concrete floor and the bricks on the outside of the house hold heat well into the night, it helps only a little – maybe a couple of degrees by morning – but it’s still better.

So how are you handling this unusually brutal summer? You guys with air-conditioned shops have it made, but what about the rest of you?

Let all of us know what you’re doing to make the hottest summer in decades a bit easier to take in the shop.

Till next time,


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