Setting Up Shop #2: Raw materials

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Blog entry by David A. P. posted 08-25-2008 03:38 AM 1640 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Somewhere in the middle: Buck Bros. Block Plane Part 2 of Setting Up Shop series Part 3: A few of my favorite far. »
I started out with a fairly hefty workbench from the house’s previous owner, but it’s in a place not appropriate for a woodshop, and it’s not easy to move to where I do want my shop (the garage). Given that the space that it’s in is my main art studio, and it’s useful for that, I decided to leave it there and come up with a different bench for my woodwork.
The space I had available…well, let’s call it available in theory, as at the time I decided to set up a woodshop it was more or less floor-to-ceiling boxes of household junk. (To me, anyway, it’s junk…others have a different opinion :).) The first step would obviously be to clear out some space.
I’ve never been one for following formal procedures, though, at least when it comes to recreation, so the first thing I did was acquire massive amounts of wood. In fact, the acquisition of said wood came before—or, more accurately, during—my decision to set up a woodshop, as it was the availability of the wood that was part of my motivation to do so. Our community has a program where, once a year, everyone is allowed to dump pretty much whatever they have, in any quantity, on the curbside, and the city will drive by and pick it up for the dump. I’m not sure how much it was part of the original intent, but the program has become in effect a massive community-wide “freecycling” program, and it makes for a fun scavenger-hunt atmosphere to load up a kid or two and cruise around looking for “good stuff.”
My first vanload of wood was mostly salvage material—finished trim, scraps of plywood, and old furniture that had something worth saving but did not otherwise seem overly functional (unless it seems to be constructed of good, solid wood—something I’d definitely be using for a solid piece of something—I tried not to grab fully-functional furniture unless it was close to being picked up, because I figured I’d have enough to do anyway, and I didn’t want to deprive someone else of functional furniture that they might be able to use as-is). My second vanload was some of that, mixed with more raw material—boards, panels, and chunks of wood. I figured I had enough trim and the like that I wanted to concentrate on things that might make furniture or whatever. After that, though, I hit the jackpot—I found the discard piles of a couple of woodworkers in the neighborhood, filled with a lot of small offcuts, and a few not-so-small boards. After that vanload—which joined the previous loads, piled every which way amongst boxes stored in the garage—I limited myself to any cream-of-the-crop pickups, because if I wasn’t careful I’d end up with a woodshop entirely composed of scrap wood, with no room for luxuries like “people” or “tools.” I still managed to pick up a couple of very nice pieces, including an aged solid-wood headboard—wood type as yet undetermined, in fact, but solid and thick—and a complete dining room table in good condition.
So, at the very beginning of setting up my shop, I had the following:
  • a two-car garage, full of one car, many boxes of household stuff, and a whole lot of wood in various states of salvage.
  • a smattering of tools acquired over the years for general household maintenance, including a Skil jigsaw, a Skil circular saw, a Black & Decker detail sander (“the Mouse”), a corded B&D drill, a selection of drill bits I’d just received last Christmas, an anemic cordless “drill”/driver, an old rusty 18” bowsaw, an old rusty hacksaw, a so-called “toolbox saw,” a claw hammer, a rubber mallet, a set of sockets, a couple of badly-worn and chipped chisels, a laser level, a couple of measuring tools (framer’s square, combo square, magnetic level), some sandpaper, and a collection of screwdriver handles, bits, and screwdrivers. I also had, in my art studio, a Dremel with a fair collection of accessories and a couple of good, long rulers.
  • a fairly random selection of paints and various finishes, some from the previous owner of the house, some from previous household projects, and some from the community hazardous-waste disposal dropoff (which provides an exchange for various usable household chemicals and paints and such).
  • a whole passel of kids, some of them enthusiastic about doing some woodworking.
  • a patient, long-suffering wife, used to living through my flights of fancy and mad schemes, short-lived though they often are.

A few pictures of the early days:

A fairly heinous stacking of wood, before I started the recovery process, and before I’d worked out any actual storage. Behind the wood you can see a pile of various items stored in the garage, as well as a tool rack for shovels, rakes, etc. The left, likewise, has more piles of stuff.

A set of not-terribly-sturdy metal shelves, already in place, being used to store a fairly random assortment of things (you can see my Bucket O’ Circular Saw on the third shelf). The wood-looking thing to the right of the shelves is a storage cabinet previously used to hold a nonfunctional stereo; I’d recently moved it out of the rec room while setting up my art studio, earlier in the year. It reappears in the story later on….

These are the shelves I originally used to stack wood. They turned out to be inadequate for the task, though—the metal started bowing.

Next post: the obvious next step. No, not clearing out space…buying tools!

-- David A. P. -- Ars Arboris ("Art of the Tree") --

4 comments so far

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4702 days

#1 posted 08-25-2008 03:51 AM

Looks like your off to a good start. Any idea where you are going to put tools?

-- Scott - Chico California

View lew's profile


13198 posts in 4642 days

#2 posted 08-25-2008 03:56 AM

Wish my workshop looked this neat!

Nice stash of wood.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4631 days

#3 posted 08-25-2008 04:38 AM

Looks like you went to the Karson school of shop organization. :] Keep us posted.

View David A. P.'s profile

David A. P.

28 posts in 4451 days

#4 posted 08-25-2008 05:53 PM

So far I’ve changed around my tool storage at least three times. I’m pretty sure it’s not finalized yet Wink. I’ll post in more detail on that topic pretty soon. I hope.

-- David A. P. -- Ars Arboris ("Art of the Tree") --

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