Time Spent in the Shop

My time in the shop has a value far beyond it being my place of business. I recognized this long ago when I found that my best moments there were those when I was making something for the shop. It could have been a tool cabinet or a work table if it were grand or a door pull or a tool rack for some new chisels if it were smaller. But even the little things that I made for the shop were great sources of joy.

So it is only a small curiosity that after days in the shop, listening to motors roaring, dealing with piles of sawdust, handling a hundred student questions, or just running around in the frenzy of a day where so much happens and nothing seems to get done, that after days spent in the combined din of the shop space, I find that I want to take my day off, where else? but in the shop. It is the one place to go to recharge my batteries, replenish my spirit, fill my water bottle of hope for the next week’s fray.

And why not there? It’s one of the reasons I became a woodworker I think, to have that place to call home, to have that rough but comfortable space where I can [usually] find my tools and get to work. It’s where I get to make things too. It’s not back at the computer dealing with the curse of e-mail, [sorry to all my correspondents, but I believe it to be true, all of our time saving measures and inventions and devices eat up our time rather than save it] [and while it may be true that we are now connected in a way that is inclusive and with each new entry becomes more powerful, it moves us farther away from real human strengths].

No the shop provides me with a kind of comfort that I find nowhere else. I am not alone in this. I think we all, men and women need that quiet place where we can work. And what happens there isn’t measured by units produced or pages written. The work there isn’t always about getting something done.
At least something that someone else could measure. But to you, it has value beyond any measure, beyond any tape rule or scale of merit. Because it’s that time you need to be yourself and to let your own voice be heard quietly. It’s about getting something right inside you so you can then go back out, back out into the noise.

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Published in: on February 15, 2008 at 12:27 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. Gary:

    Well written, and yes, it makes a lot of sense. The picture you portray of a week in your shop is an accurate one. No surprise that when the last vacuum is turned off, and the last student walks out the door, you would spend some quality time at the bench.

    Thanks for starting the blog. It will be a nice place to visit – when we’re not in the shop.


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