I hear woodworkers all the time who watch Norm on TV and say, “Sure, I could do all that stuff, too, if I had a shop like Norm’s.” But the more really talented woodworkers I meet, the more I’m reminded that woodworking is in the head and hands, not in the tools.
The point was driven home again when I drove home for Easter last weekend. I always make it a habit of sneaking down to Dad’s shop to see what he has cooking. On this trip, it was nothing as he and Mom and had only gotten back a few days before from spending the winter in Arizona. But I was struck once again by how much he gets done in his small shop.
His “machine room,” shown below, is about 10x10’ and his Craftsman contractor-style tablesaw is the centerpiece, as usual. (That day, he was just unpacking the Ryobi cordless kit we got him for Christmas.) The ceiling joists are filled with offcuts, and one wall is lined with a cacophony of salvaged doors, drawers and shelves stuffed with more salvaged hardware, and scraps.
An old storm door contains the dust in the machine room, and the area just outside that room (shown below) holds his bench—old base cabinets from a couple of kitchens ago and other rescued and shop-built storage. His bench looks a little bit like the Partridge Family bus, all multi-colored with odd shapes. But ask him for something—anything—and within a few seconds he can produce it, no matter how obscure. He’s very well organized.
One wall of storage in the bench area is chock-a-block full of boxed stuff (thank goodness for the Schwan’s man!). Whenever I look at this wall, it reminds me of how Dad could pack a week’s worth of luggage for our family of six into the trunk of the old ’71 Impala—NO space was wasted. (BTW, Dad’s dust collector lives in the fruit cellar behind that door on the left.)
Yet, the man turns out great projects for the grandkids and great-grandkids from this little space every year. Not because he has great tools or one of America’s Best Home Workshops, but because he has good hands and a good head. And a great heart.
Dave at WOOD