Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thanks John! -A personal shop history of sorts

Welcome back!

In my last post, I gave a broad image of where I've been on this woodworking journey.  I briefly touched on how I went from a backyard woodworker to sharing two shops with my mentor; John.

No discussion of my journey would be complete without discussing John's influence and help. He wasn't a huge name in woodworking circles, but he did me a huge favor by taking me under his wing and teaching me some of the essential skills.

When I started out I had never used many of the major tools that a typical shop has.  I knew how to make cuts with a bandsaw (but nothing about set-up or blade changing), how to chuck up a bit and poke holes in a board at the drill press (and I suppose a drill/driver) and how not to sand my fingertips off using a belt/disc sander.  Circular saws weren't quite terrifying, but it was a close thing. Of course the only circular saw I'd ever used was this extremely homeowner grade Black & Decker plastic encased tool.

John didn't have big fancy tools, or a big fancy shop, but he had a big heart and welcomed this complete novice into his shop. He had mostly 60's vintage craftsman... drill press, jointer, sander and an 8" belt drive tablesaw:

That saw was vastly underpowered, but you know, it Was a belt drive tablesaw. It had a fence (barely) that Might stay at 90°, and absolutely one safety feature... the little yellow pull out thingamajig on the switch.

Every single time I used that saw I cringed... but I learned an incredibly valuable lesson from it: The blade is to be respected and you MUST  pay strict attention to where it is and where your fingers are in relation to it.

John had a pretty well set up shop all things considered, and I loved going over to putter around there. Here's his chopsaw stand. Nothing fancy saw wise... I think it came from Harbor Freight... but it was a sliding compound miter saw.

You can see his drill press, the lumber rack over the chopsaw station and ample supply of clamps.

About a year or so into our partnership Rigid tools moved their manufacturing overseas to Taiwan, and Home depot cleared out all of the Emerson built saws. I splurged and picked up one of the 'last' 3612 table saws which soon replaced old reliable in our shop.
brand new 3612

New saw with tenoning jig
In those two photos you have a pretty complete view of most of the shop... it had concrete floor through most of it... zero insulation. Certainly not fancy, but definitely a Shop. 

We eventually 'outgrew' that space and wound up in local business incubator space. We became 'Madison Woodsmith'... we were there for two years before I split up the partnership. One of the biggest mistakes I've ever made, but far from the last I'm sure.

We had about a 30'x40' bay with high sloped ceilings:
The first pic was as you entered the space... acres of room! the loft was where we stored our lumber. there was a small utility room through that one door... I forget what we kept in there though.

the image on the right was looking down from the loft to my corner of the shop. We had a 4x7' outfeed/work table where my ridgid was the centerpiece of the shop.

Here was my messy workbench:
Eventually because of the rent steadily increasing, we split up the partnership and my tools went into storage for a couple of years.  In the long run I could have put up a shop with the rent I paid, but I didn't have it all in one pile until the 'right' tax check came in. 

Somehow in the between time I acquired a couple of new toyls: a  highly modified Harbor Freight bandsaw and a complete Delta Midi lathe. You'll see those in a future post... 

Not that I have anything approaching an outline for this post, but that pretty well wraps up where I did my woodworking back in the day. Again, I truly owe for what John taught me. I learned a lot of basic tool usage, drank way too much coffee and/or vanilla flavored coffee-ish drinks over the years with him. He didn't set out to be a mentor for me,  we were just two friends sharing a hobby together. In the end I suppose he was a very important teacher just the same. Thanks John!

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