For more than 30 years my workshop consisted of a workbench and my Shopsmith tucked into a corner of the garage. I either had to set up and tear down every time I worked or park the car in the driveway until the project was done.
In 2007 my husband said that if I’d give up my dream of buying a motorcycle for my 60th birthday, I could build my dream workshop instead. This was certainly a great trade, as I spend time in the shop every day. Some days my husband calls from the house to ask, “When are you coming home?”
My 1,000 sq. ft. shop includes a finishing room, a bathroom and an attached greenhouse with a covered patio (a wonderful place to sit while I’m hand-sanding or carving). There’s also a small alcove with room for a table and chairs. I trimmed its soffit with cutouts of girls enjoying woodworking, something that I dreamed about as a child. Unfortunately, I grew up in an era when girls weren’t allowed to touch power tools.
My father and grandfather were both woodworkers and I used to sit in their shop for hours, watching as they built beautiful projects. I never had any woodworking classes, but what I learned by watching them was far better training than I could have gotten anywhere. Now I have a wonderful space where I’m able to teach classes for some of the ladies in the community. I’ve also set up a workbench and tool space for my grandson, who will carry on the tradition. A workbench that my father built from an ash tree he cut from our yard is one of my favorite places to work.
My trusty Shopsmith—which I’ve upgraded by adding larger tables—is still one of my favorite tools. (A miniature version that I recently built as a project won ribbons at the county fair!) I use the Shopsmith’s tablesaw, jointer, lathe, disc and drum sander functions most often. I also use it for specialized drilling operations such as horizontal boring, but its molder and shaper functions have been replaced by routing, for the most part.
I retrofitted the Shopsmith’s old tables to a custom-built stand to create a unique worktable that tilts, slides and raises up and down. It also doubles as a stand for my scroll saw. I’ve also built many other shop projects, including vertical lumber storage racks and a rolling rack for sheet goods, a pair of rolling work tables, a downdraft sanding table, the cabinet that houses the miter saw and a corner storage rack that holds branches I’ve collected for the walking sticks that I carve.