Shop Tour II


Doesn’t look like much.  Needs sided, but it’s home

These are the kinds of days I live for.

It’s a beautiful, white, and chilly day, and here I am, nestled in my own little wooded corner of the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, where a man’s handshake is as good as his word.

I’m enjoying the season’s first fire and a little shop time occasionally interrupted by visits from my daughter and the dogs.  That’s alright with me; I just stop what I’m doing and enjoy the company.

There is so much good about these times, rare as they may be, that I just can’t help but stop and be thankful, truly thankful.  Peaceful quiet, with the radio playing.  The calm joy of making smooth, silky shavings with well-tuned hand tools interspersed with the occasional, senseless slaying of millions of defenseless electrons.  Let’s face it; this is 2016, and we (thankfully) don’t do everything with hand tools.

Anyway, I’m sitting here on my latest project, a prototype I’ll share with you on a later date, and I thought, with how the shop looks just now, that it would be a good time to post the second batch of pics and thoughts on the State of the Shop.  There’s been much clamoring for the aforepromised second post on how the shop looks when clean.  As previously mentioned (here), I know guys like to see other shops and how other guys set them up.  I love nebbing in other shops to see how different people work, and sometimes glean some new ideas for myself.  So, without further adieu, some pics with accompanying thoughts.  As before, these start at the man door and rotated 360 around the shop.


Uncle Bill’s old anvil, a great tool.  That’s a 12′ door-great for letting in the outside in the summer.  That wall had two big windows when I bought the place and job one was cutting in this door.  Also, shave horse and outfeed table.


Project bandsaw; an early 1900’s model that I can’t wait to rebuild.  Alas, real life always slows down the fun stuff.  Shelving full of crap, including the welder, and lumber rack.


Sturdy old drill press, tool chest, wall of lumber, 8″ jointer.  The jointer was one of my first purchases.  It is the single most important tool for surfacing rough lumber.  I often reflect on how lucky I was to start reading before I started buying.  I bought the right tools at the right time to do things the way I want to do them.  By the way, my first real tool was a Shopsmith.


Wood burner, metal bandsaw, auxiliary propane, big window.


Another great early 1900’s tool; a tank of a Delta lathe.  Workbench, benchtop planer, grinder, and my air and dust collection ports.  This was one of my better ideas: I built a small room onto the back of the shop and put the compressor and dust collector in it.  No noise from the compressor and no dust from the collector.  I have a remote for starting and stopping the dust collector.  Oh, and FRIDGE.


Another tool chest, accompanied by my son’s starter tool chest.  It’s sitting on the original workbench for the shop, reserved for greasy, oily, messy work.  Welding table that I built, another great idea.  You can’t have too many workbenches.  That’s a set of forks leaning on it that I’ll eventually fit up to the tractor; it’s all about cutting, loading and transporting wood here at The Bronze Oak Leaf.


That’s a Steel City 3HP cabinet saw.  It’s not a Powermatic or Delta, but I have no complaints.  The all-important bookshelf/ fluid storage/ coat rack.  The “catch-all” corner; every shop has one.  It also houses the second-most important tool in my shop (second to the fridge, of course): the stereo.  It’s a 100W receiver with 100W speakers hanging on the wall.  Nothing special, but I could not live here without it.  That’s a set of torches in the corner, another indispensable tool for a well-equipped shop.  Also, above the door, is the thermometer and hygrometer.  Any woodworker worth his salt pays attention to relative humidity, which fluctuates wildly here in PA.  The picture board on the garage door has since been replaced with a much larger picture frame for pinning all sorts of conversation pieces.  When I have friends over, we often spend time in front of it.

If you haven’t noticed, all of my big-ticket items are on wheels.  This shop has many faces, and I have to reconfigure often.  All tools are plug-and-cord connected, and get moved back to their homes when I’m not using them. You’ll also notice a lot of metal-working tools.  A well-equipped shop has tools to work on tools.  I’ve spent years acquiring tools.  I’m not a tool junky, I just have been fortunate enough through the years to buy tools as I need them, and fortunate enough to come from a family that works on everything.

I love when the shop’s clean and organized, but it usually means I don’t have anything going on.  Anyone who knows me knows that those periods don’t last long.

If you need me, I’ll be in the shop.


About Sam

Young, good-looking, manly--you get the picture. Novice woodworker with just too much rolling around upstairs to keep to myself. Random thoughts, philosophical questions, the occasional flash of insight or just dumb luck that needs to be shared with anyone who cares.
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