This time, it’s personal

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My woodshop isn’t just where I work; it’s my personal space. I’m betting that’s just as important for you as it is to me.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a lifelong professional woodworker where your shop is your place of business, or if you're a weekend do-it-yourselfer just puttering around. A workshop is a far better place to get work done if there’s also an element of play in it.

I’ve had shops in two states over the last 35-plus years, and since day one the personal items surrounding me have been just as important as the work things. Some are recent, but some have been with me for decades.

That little frame with the pictures of my daughter? Those photos were brand new when I got it – my daughter’s 32 now, so that tells you how long it’s been a part of my work. Speaking of my daughter, she gave me a lot of personal shop items; the little dinosaur and U.S.S. Enterprise next to the frame were some of her first-ever gifts to me. The Stooges sign above that photo, meanwhile, is her most recent. She got that for me just last year.

I made that “Santa’s Workshop” sign 20 years ago in Connecticut when working on a Christmas gift, and have hung it on the shop door ever since whenever I’m doing secret stuff. That “Darth Vadar Lives” button in the upper-right photo? My mom gave me that in 1977, the year the first "Star Wars" movie came out, making it the oldest personal shop item. (And possibly the most valuable: They spelled “Vader” wrong.)

The rubber chicken, of course, needs no explanation.

Woodworking and writing about woodworking is how I make my living. Those personal things, meanwhile, represent important aspects of my life.

I couldn’t do the first without the second.

A.J.

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