Chris Schwarz's Blog

European Dreaming: A Visit to Kent Adkins’s Shop

In May, Senior
Editor Glen D. Huey and I went to visit Kent Adkins’s new shop in St.
Louis. Kent, an avid woodworker and surgical urologist, has spent the
last few years building a custom shop from the ground up and filling it
with best and safest machines he could find. Finger safety is
particularly important to surgeons.

The shop is, in a word, fantastic. And I’m jaded.

I wrote a story about our visit for the February 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, but you can get a taste of the European awesomeness by watching this brief slideshow.

— Christopher Schwarz

42 thoughts on “European Dreaming: A Visit to Kent Adkins’s Shop

  1. mvflaim

    Man o man people can get jealous can’t they? Being a surgeon I’m sure he has helped hundreds, if not thousands of people to live better lives. He’s probably even saved a life or two. His nice shop is a small token of reward for his profession.

  2. www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlcp5rijo0qv57zIGUQvXxZf0iqyJNQSSM

    I don’t really relate at all to these type of shops. I think if money were not an issue , I still would go for something more everyday. These type of shops always focus on the machines and not enough on the projects that are made. Thats what really interests me.

    Also it baffles me how a senior-editor of a woodworking magazine can be so unsafe with the jointer. Was the jointer actually running ? No eye-safety, no push blocks ?Leaning over the cutting blades . Really ?

    Ron

  3. Mark

    Whoa…hold on now. I hope my comment above didn’t instigate some of the negative comments posted since. I was only putting forth my opinion that it seemed a bit out of place in Popular Woodworking and that it probably doesn’t reflect anything near reality to most of us. I checked some of the prices on some of those machines and several of them cost more than all of the tools and machinery in my own shop put together; and I have a decent shop. Having said that, we need to remember that Dr. Adkins is free to spend his money any way he likes and his choice in machinery and shop setting have only a peripheral bearing on whatever his talent and skills can produce…and that chest of drawers looks pretty good to me. I think Chris is right in that we need to see the whole story in February to see what this shop and its master have to teach and then take what we can from that. I can continue to hold fellow woodworkers in high esteem who can make their own tools, fashion finished pieces from a log and bring 18th and 19th century techniques into the 21rst century and still learn what a well made, high end piece of machinery can do for me. Glen Huey is a machine guy and I had the good fortune to be able to sit in on some of his talks at WWIA. It’s all different approaches to the same goals and it’s nice to have some choices.

  4. Harold Pomeroy

    The machinery looks industrial, the shop looks like a waiting room in a bank. The place has no soul. The neighbor’s kid in his Mom’s basement making mandolins could teach the doctor some life lessons.

  5. Lawrence Richards

    What a wonderful looking shop which appears to be filled with not just an amazing range of tools but also a craftsman that is obviously skilled at both his trade and his hobby. From the posts of the people that have actually met the man it also appears that he creates friendships that make those that know him rush to his defense. The fact that they have had to do so embarrasses me somewhat as I like to think of woodworkers as the type of men and women that scorn jealousy, defend skill, praise earned success, and only say on a keyboard that which they would say face to face. It saddens me to think how many craftsmen we do not get to know in our online communities because comments like some of those displayed here compel them to remain private.

    Thank you Dr Adkins for opening your shop so that we can drool, examine, and admire your place of solace and justifiable pride– I hope it serves you as well as it appears it should.
    Lawrence Richards

  6. monsieur-antoine.myopenid.com

    I actually find this a bit sad when I think of my fellows young woodworkers struggling to start a business/career with way less means, while a hobbyist can put together such a workshop that will certainly not be used to the fullest of its capabilities.

    Surgery is an honorable pursuit, so is woodworking. The pay difference saddens me. So does this article…

  7. Darryl McDermid

    What dreams are made of especially when money is no object. Well done, I trust you have many, many hours of safe, enjoyable creativity. I am just a little green with envy….

    Darryl in France

  8. Paul

    Man, when he retires as a surgeon, he can open up a cabinet shop with the equipment he has there! Some top notch machinery there. But that blue stool seat; that’s a little hard on the eyes. Paul

  9. Bill Signorini

    For the second time in a row I can not see the pictures of the shop being featured. I can see other pictures on the blog but not the shop. Guess I will have to wait for pictures in the magazine.

  10. Scott

    I was at Kent’s shop opening party, as you may have noticed his shop is amazing. But the most amazing thing about Kent is his ability to create beautifully crafted furniture. Chris Schwarz was equally impressed with Kent’s work and noted this in the article. Kent is a very busy doctor with a family and I am blown away with what he can do with his limited time and superior skills.

    For those who said his shop was too clean, first of all this was party not a woodworking demonstration. Since when is having a messy dusty shop a sign of a fine woodworker? Having clean floors and a dust free environment is much safer for your lungs as well as reducing the risk of slipping on wood chips. Thanks to Chris and Kent for allowing us to see his beautiful shop!

    Scott

  11. Robert Nease

    I personally love the shop. Am designing a similar building now, using Sketchup skills I acquired from Mr. Lang and others. My power equipment will never reach those standards as it is a steadily changing duke’s mixture of old and new. I trust I will enjoy mine as much as Kent enjoys his. Can’t wait for the Feb issue to arrive.

  12. Stephen

    I guess it’s a point of view. Nice gear with great potential! But to me the whole point in having a shop and that great equipment is to create a little bit of heaven that you live in.
    Again great equipment but I thought that it was for creating all that beauty and grace that we can’t seem to find so we build.
    Yep can’t argue, good gear, good space make that more doable but it’s what comes out that makes me make sawdust not the kit.
    Still being a power tool guy. WHAT A NICE SHOP!!!

  13. www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlznKq4S37ZA8pZLV68VRObdiu7tkWoeYI

    I think it is a tremendous success. The beauty of this craft is each of us can take the path of our choosing and to most it is becoming more and more of a Hybrid approach, leaning on machinery to do the heavy lifting and then the delicate serenity of hand tooling. As for the negative comments – Really? Jealousy is probably the most recognizable of the seven deadly – we are woodworkers and way above the "Jersey Shore" drama of our disappointing society.
    GREAT SHOP Dr. Adkins!

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