most of the shop

A couple of dis-connected things. Most important is first – I’m not wild about holidays, but they’re hard to avoid to some degree. One that I think about in some ways is tomorrow, American Thanksgiving. Like many people, I have lots to be thankful for. One thing that’s been on my mind this morning as I wait for the fire to warm the shop up is all the people who make hospitals run. I had a chance to be a visitor at a hospital not too long ago and was amazed at how hard these people work and how they have adapted to all the pandemic concerns. Truly inspiring. I know there’s lots & lots of front-line workers all around the world who’ve kept things together while I’ve been tucked safely inside my shop. My hat’s off (not literally, this morning’s the coldest day this season…) to them, but the hospital crews are especially on my mind this Thanksgiving.

OK – the pictures today are a recent shop tour. I read a week or two ago about a “small shop” that was somewhere in the vicinity of 25′ x 40′! So I thought an updated shop tour might be timely. Plus there’s new readers each week. Mine’s 12′ x 16′. No electricity, so no lights other than windows. No machines – the motives for that approach are entirely personal. It’s not about some high-handed notion of this way being better than machine work. It’s better for me. That’s all.

my main workbench

The picture above is my main workbench. Most of my work happens here. Pine top, oak base. I’ve worked at it for 20 years. Saws above, various tools in racks and on the shelf below. And the photo below is the bench behind that one – an Ulmia workbench I bought in the early 1980s. A huge expenditure at that time. Right now, it’s just where I stick that cupboard base while I work on parts for it. And pile boards underneath, etc.

Looking back toward the door, to my right when I’m at the bench is a tool chest I built when Chris Schwarz’ book was new. That book convinced me that a chest was a good idea for me. In my old job, my tools hung on the walls. An ocean view from that shop was great, except for the tools. Rust never sleeps. Above this half of the shop is a loft, and tucked under it are chair parts and other odds and ends of dedicated wood.

tool chest & chair parts & more

At the other end of the shop, it’s open to the 16′ peak. In this view below you can see the cord from my pole lathe coming down on our left. The pole is just out of sight. Pattern sticks for chairs, tables and stools hang all over this part of the shop. But some then get covered up by other bits also hanging.

looking up

The lathe is simple. I only used it part-time these days. That means it collects junk on it until I need to do some turning. This bed is short, (about 3 feet) there’s a 4 1/2′ bed that I used to use. Now stashed until I really need that length.

turning a pillar for the cupboard

The rest is details, mostly of where to put stuff when you have so many windows there’s barely walls. I did manage a couple of small cupboards – this one for axes. A similar one across it for turning tools.

axes or hatchets it doesn’t matter

That’s about it inside. There’s a riving brake and various wood piles outside. Another time for those. The view below is the door (thanks @gerrishisland ) and the shaving horse. It doesn’t stay outside. I stick it out there when I’m not using it, then put it back at night. I hate that notion that they are destined to weather & decay and be replaced.

front view

Fire’s ready, I’m going to work.

23 thoughts on “Thanksgiving

  1. It’s quite the place. Very cozy and a beautiful view. PF

    On Wed, Nov 24, 2021 at 10:00 AM PETER FOLLANSBEE: JOINER’S NOTES wrote:

    > pfollansbee posted: ” most of the shop A couple of dis-connected things. > Most important is first – I’m not wild about holidays, but they’re hard to > avoid to some degree. One that I think about in some ways is tomorrow, > American Thanksgiving. Like many people, I have lots t” >

  2. We moved a small early 20th century building to our place to be my wife’s piano teaching studio. Her career plans have changed which means now the 12×26 building has no purpose… and might just become my woodshop when I get around to restoring it (have to finish the house first). I plan to use mostly hand tools (when I switch from carpentry to joinery) but I will keep power tools, as well, mostly on casters. Sketching out plans for where to put things really puts the massive size of power tools into perspective!! And I don’t even have “big” machines.
    I had planned on making my other shop a combined wood/auto shop, but was never in love with the idea of having sawdust-creating machines 10 feet from spark-creating machines (grinders and welders). I enjoy a bonfire as much as the next guy, but I’d prefer it not to be my outbuildings.
    Your shop is really very beautiful!

  3. Thanks for the tour, Peter, hope to visit at some point down the road. How do your wooden planes behave with the changes in temperature, esp going from I imagine below freezing at night to toasty warm once the stove gets going? Do you keep the wedges all set and ready to go?

  4. Thank you, Peter. It’s useful to see how you use your space. I am constantly thinking about how to rearrange my own shop to be handier.

  5. Thanks for letting us into your workshop. You really are unplugged in every way. No artificial light must limit your working hours in winter.

  6. Thanks, Peter, for sharing how your shop is organized. Your blog is one of the things I’m thankful for this year. I always enjoy your thoughts on woodworking and nature and your “how to” videos. Your posts are at the top of my email in-box!

  7. Dear Peter, Just beautiful, to see and read about your workshop. That is the workshop of someone who loves and respects the tools and the craft. Expecting things to slow down on multiple fronts after the holidays, and have not forgotten about the card project. We are serious about following through with that. As I recall we are lined up to do a big Windsor chair lot next (that was a great favorite of Daddy’s, so there are multiple cards), but if there is something else you’d like us to see if we can find first and bump it up to the top of the list, please feel welcome to let us know. That offer will continue to stand–we have your lists and will consult them for what to copy next, but will gladly reprioritize at any time. We do hope to make significant progress for you this winter, “God willing.” Speaking of things to be thankful for, we continue to be safe and well (including Jon’s parents)–was just reminded, reading a journal entry from last year, of the concern this time last year, the ever-present threat of covid–and how being vaccinated is really something to be thankful for.  Best Thanksgiving wishes to you and your loved ones, Your friends, Kathy and Jon

  8. I also thought that your working hours must be quite limited in the winter. Have you ever been tempted to run an extension cord from the house with a few lights on stands, just to be able to finish a project or complete a particular task?

    • I do have an extension cord. I use it for grinding tools about every other or ever third month. And when Fine Woodworking comes to shoot photographs. Otherwise, no. I am particularly glad that there comes a point where I have to put things down and say “tomorrow is another day.”

  9. Thanks for the wonderful tour Peter. Just yesterday my wife and I finished moving into our new/old house and after more than a year, I was able to break open boxes and see my treasured hand tools again. Some might think that’s a strange think to be thankful for, but it made me feel so happy to know I’ll be using them on many new projects.

    This past year we have lived in our van or on friends and relatives couches, I gained a new perspective on truly homeless folk. It was a humbling and educational experience.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and to all your subscribers.

  10. Peter,
    As always thanks!
    Speaking of “rust never sleeps”, in your tool chests, hatchet cabinets, etc., do you leave paraffin blocks, oil all tools, etc., after each use?
    Down here in SE GA. I am always finding new rust. I wipe with jojoba oil, paraffin, Vaseline, or ____ after every use. Never ending.
    Pete Magoon

  11. Absolutely Yes to thankful for health care staff, fire fighters, police and EMS. Last week I had an unplanned trip to an ER after a serious near head on auto accident. So thankful for all the assistance!! If turkey is on your diet tomorrow, enjoy! Very nice shop tour.

    Sent from my iPhone


  12. “It’s not about some high-handed notion of this way being better than machine work. It’s better for me. That’s all.” This is where you’ve hit the nail right on the head. You work the way it pleases you.

    • Maurice – très agréable d’avoir de vos nouvelles. Content que la publication et la visite de l’atelier vous plaisent. Votre travail y apparaît deux fois, quelques motifs sur la porte à l’intérieur du cabinet de la hache, et la découpe du rabot et du roitelet est encadrée par la boîte à outils. Je pense souvent à toi et j’espère que tu vas bien.

      • Oui, j”ai bien vu ! Peter, nos pensées doivent souvent se croiser. Tant que l’on a les mains occupées tout va bien, je le souhaite aussi pour toi et les tiens.

  13. Hi Peter, (I just had to write ! ) – Your shop is small, however efficient. It reflects your craftsmanship and the method of work as was accomplished back in the 17th century. About 6 years ago, you attended a
    Guild of Maine Woodworkers meeting in my shop and demonstrated your method of crafts. My shop was about 10,000 sq. ft. that also supported (on occasions) 10 cabinetmakers on the payroll. That’s another world!! But when you attempt to make a living at woodworking, electricity and machines are necessary. Time is the enemy ! I’ve since retired and demoted myself to my cellar of about 600 sq. ft. The main section is 16 x 24 ft. (actually 14-8 x 22-8, minus the cement block walls) with a wing of 12 x 18 (10-8 x 17-4, less walls). It’s difficult to imagine you working in a space as my 12 x 18 area reflects. But in retirement my quote is, “I make what I want to, when I want to, without money pressure and without time pressure”. It is now play. Something about electricity: The electric motor was invented about 1880 and it took 40 years to replace other sources of power. And about the same time, the light bulb was invented. That made possible factory work throughout the night, and therefore shortened the work day for most. It was Ford who introduced an eight hour work day and assembly line thus making possible the three shift work day. Although my large shop had its place in time, I like my cellar, my spaced, and my slower pace of work. You, as a one person shop, fit the place perfectly. I know of no one that can work as efficiently and as fast as you. Yet fast and quality don’t always work together. But you have honed the skills to perfection. Enjoyed your shop pictures.
    WES. (Baldwin, Maine.)

  14. Hi Peter,
    Nice to see around the shop, I increasingly find that power tools set my teeth on edge.
    I would be interested to see how you’ve dealt with fitting a wood stove.

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