Seasonal affective disorder

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As David DeCristoforo pointed out in his recent blog, working in a woodshop can be affected by the seasons. He was thinking more of heating and cooling, but the seasons cause other effects.

My garage shop isn't climate-controlled. Because it shares two walls with the rest of the house, it rarely falls below 45 in the winter but that's still darned cold. In the summer it's as hot in there as it is outside. I can bring the heat up in the winter easily enough, but it takes a while; a fan is the only summer solution for cooling.

The swing in temperatures affects my woodworking. Sometimes in the winter the day job doesn't allow me enough free time to work out there to make it worth heating it up, so I just don't go out there. On the other hand, you just don't do a lot of other things outdoors in the winter, which increases available shop time maybe tenfold. So if it's worth heating the shop up, I can count on many hours spent in woodworking bliss.

During a few stretches of upper-90s temperatures last summer, I eschewed shop time for work done in the air-conditioned house instead. In warmer months there are things you want to do outside (hiking, picnics, family outings, vacations), plus things you simply have to do (lawn/yard maintenance, window cleaning, screen replacement, painting). Available shop time plummets.

Winter is the traditional woodworking season. All the woodworking suppliers know this, and watch their sales go up when it's cold and down when it's warm. Online woodworking sites have a lot more traffic in the winter than in summer, directly proportional to how much time people are indoors. The big new-tool introductions take place in mid- to late summer, so people can make plans to buy in the fall.

The doctors call it Seasonal Affective Disorder or simply "SAD" when folks get depressed in the winter. I have to admit that I prefer nicer, milder weather, but I really miss the time freedom that winter offers for working in the shop. If doctors ever identify a version of SAD that hits woodworkers exclusively, I'm betting it's something that occurs on the other end of the calendar.

Till next time,

A.J.

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