It's Hard to Find Shop Time

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Blog entry by Eric posted 03-19-2008 03:41 PM 1114 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m guessing that most of you who read that entry title uttered, “Yeah, you and me both, pal.” So I know I’m not alone in this.

I feel competing urges. On the one hand, woodworking is great. It’s a fun hobby, and even though I make countless mistakes and sub-par attempts at anything I do, I can see progress. And that’s rewarding. On the other hand, my family is great. I love them, they love me, and at the end of the day I feel the best when I’ve spent some good time with my wife and kids.

My wife is very patient with me. She knows I have the pull to the shop. Right now, she’s maybe a bit more patient because she knows that the primary thing I’m doing is something for her. But even if I was just doing stuff for my own benefit, she would support it. Still, when my wife spends most of the week taking care of our kids, it seems quite selfish to assume that she should do the same thing on the weekends, instead of me giving her a break for a change.

I think one of the best things I can do at this point is to do woodworking in small chunks. So after dinner, I go excuse myself and make a few cuts, or a glue-up, or some measuring and planning. Half hour or so. Then I’m back. On the weekends, I might be able to take a bit more time.

What do you guys do?

-- Eric at

17 comments so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4505 days

#1 posted 03-19-2008 03:47 PM

I got the Mrs. hooked on GardenTenders so I don’t get any complaints about shop time. Plus, I don’t have and kids at home which makes things a lot easier.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4388 days

#2 posted 03-19-2008 04:16 PM


You forgot to factor in time spent on this site as well or are you counting it as part of your woodworking time?

I am like Russel but I do keep my grandson during the day. (I hsould have two others but their mother just decided that staying home was more important than working). Playing games with a 4 year old makes the day go by really quickly. But I do have time after he goes home to work in the shop whenever I can find time away from LJs of course.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4349 days

#3 posted 03-19-2008 04:22 PM

Umm…I don’t count LJ or my personal blog, as I usually do those things either during a break or after the kids are in bed. This is a freebie.

I can’t do woodworking after the kids go to sleep because the shop is just on the other side of their windows (which used to be the outside windows before the addition). On rare occasions I can go in the shop after they’re asleep, thanks to the fact that I’m only using hand tools. The light is bright, but if I’m just doing some light sawing (like dovetails) or chiseling (I rarely use a mallet), it’s okay on occasion.

-- Eric at

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 4431 days

#4 posted 03-19-2008 04:38 PM

My wife is just glad I’m not playing video games…

Oh, and I’m with Russel. I got her hooked on Garden Tenders. We don’t have kids yet, and I’m sure when that happens we will have all manner of different priorities.

-- He said wood...

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4554 days

#5 posted 03-19-2008 04:44 PM

I’ve got the best wife in the world. She just loves taking care of our baby daughter, and doesn’t care what I do. Life is good.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 4446 days

#6 posted 03-19-2008 05:12 PM

im not married . kids grown , i do what i want whenever i want ….... life is good !

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4448 days

#7 posted 03-19-2008 05:16 PM

Hey Eric, my concerns are the same. Big changes for me though, I am finally empty nesting. But now, who will play with the wife unit? Luckly spring is just arriving and she loves to spend time in the garden. She has been a good supporter though, and allowed me to completely redo the shop. Now I am getting sick of redo and want to build something.

And life just gets in the way sometime.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View JetJock's profile


20 posts in 4292 days

#8 posted 03-19-2008 05:18 PM

My wife and I have come to a compromise when it comes to WW. I jump in the shop once or twice during the week and maybe again on the weekend. She does things by herself or with freinds on a few nights while I watch the kids. It’s a give and take. We have three young kids with one on the way, so time for me in the shop is very limited, but that is time I need to remain sane. She also needs the time away.
Regarding the noise, I try to limit my use of power tools during the week and do most of my “noise making” on the weekends. If I plan it right, I can have all the major cutting and milling done, so during the week I can use planes and other hand tools for assembly and tweaking.

Hope this helps.

-- Todd C, Central Illinois

View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 4376 days

#9 posted 03-19-2008 05:53 PM


It’s a tough nut to crack! I have two boys 9 & 6 and find that getting them involved with me in the shop from time to time brings some priceless rewards. My wife enjoys her free time during these endeavors and I get the pleasure of watching the boys wear themselves out working a handplane or spokeshave. The look on their faces as they start making shavings is priceless. They love to make things for their mom so a few cuts on the bandsaw,some sandpaper and paint, and their off to the races. It keeps them away from the TV and video games and gives them a big confidence booster when their mom makes such a fuss over their work. My wife is big into crafts so she knows how precious time spent doing what you love is all about.

Balancing the woodworking time with the kid’s extracurricular activities is the biggest challenge for me.

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

412 posts in 4398 days

#10 posted 03-19-2008 06:31 PM

Yeah, Eric…I’ve got 2 little ones (2 & 1) and this has been a point of contention in our household. I try to work after the kids go to bed, but frequently I’m either too tired by then to safely work with power tools, or don’t want to start something that I can’t finish in the 1-1/2 hours max before I turn in.

We’ve taken to negotiating our weekends in advance. We slot out “shop time” and my wife’s “knitting time” and then at least one good chunk of “family time” where we go and/or do something specific. The rest we play by ear. I also take one or both to the store with me when I need supplies—my daughter loves HD. My wife’s awesome and when I don’t have something specific to accomplish in the shop I do try to give her some time to do her stuff to “bank” up some quality shop time!

I seems to be working.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View leonmcd's profile


204 posts in 4537 days

#11 posted 03-19-2008 06:51 PM

I took a little break (about 20 years) when my kids were growing up. I have four sons so lots of school activities, sports , emergency rooms, etc.

My youngest will be 22 this year and I got back in my shop about 3 years ago. One of my sons needed a table because he was moving into an apartment and that got me back into woodworking.

Even now I don’t get as much shop time as I’d like. Still lots of other activities. Some of them are home repair/remodeling but I don’t count that as shop time. Expecially the ones that involve plumbing. I’m getting kinda old but I still play competitive volleyball and softball which takes up some nights and weekends.

I typically spend a lot time on the concept/design and planning then jump into the shop and knock out a project in a few days. My last project was for Valentines and I’m currently finishing up the design for a Christmas present for my wife. And NO I’m not way ahead of schedule. This is something I promised her for LAST Christmas.

My wife pretty much ignored my shop time until she discovered I could make gifts for her friends and family. Now her shop time (me working on her projects) is geting in the way of my shop time ( me working on my projects) lol

-- Leon -- Houston, TX - " I create all my own designs and it looks like it "

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4340 days

#12 posted 03-19-2008 08:04 PM

Hi Eric

Your a good man! Don’t do what I did. I worked a regular full time job besides trying to run a cabinet business. I would work till midnight most nights and the weekends. Needless to say I was not with my family that much. A 22 year marriage ended in divorce and my girl grew up with out me. Thank God I am closer to my daughter now. I might not have been a very good dad then but I am now. All that money I made can’t buy back what I lost when I was younger. That family of yours comes First!

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4556 days

#13 posted 03-19-2008 10:10 PM

If I spent as much time in the shop as I do here on LumberJocks, I’d have a new house! But when I do go to the shop, it’s an all day event. Then I find myself so engrossed into a project that I gotta force myself to take a break.

I love it.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 4371 days

#14 posted 03-19-2008 10:15 PM

This ain’t going to help – I’m retired and still struggling to fit in all the things I want to do in a day – woodwork is the first choice, but many other things seem to get in the way.

View jcees's profile


1078 posts in 4365 days

#15 posted 03-19-2008 11:38 PM

No doubt, family has to be FIRST! Other than that, woodwork can be a sometime thing if you don’t have to make a living at it. I don’t. But when the missus wants some of my good time, I give it and count myself lucky. The porch on my LJ homepage is a case in point. The deck was on for four years before I got around to doing the posts, rails, windows, window boxes et al. People have asked why I don’t do it for a living after seeing it up close. That’s when I pop off one of the hip roofs on top of one of the posts and show them my start and end dates scribbled on the bottom.

They usually say something like, “Geez, that long?” I then inform them that there’s not a lot you can get done when all you have is thirty minutes per weekend to work on it and that it’s a miracle I got it done in this life! The satisfaction comes from my wife’s approval and knowing that there isn’t a square inch of that puppy that doesn’t have me all over it. Done and DONE.

And in the famous words of one of my old bosses after we would complete some major project, ”NEXT!”


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

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