Life After Power Tools
It has been 2 months since I sold off a lot of tools here on the blog. I have no seller’s remorse and don’t miss them at all. Granted I had not used my jointer and table saw for almost two years prior to selling them but there is a different feeling when the tool is still there waiting to be used and when it is gone completely. I can say that I miss the extra storage space that my table saw provided, but without another horizontal surface I have found myself putting things away and staying more organized. With less space to set partially completed projects, I am less prone to take on new projects until one is completed.
In a 250 square foot shop, there will never be huge amounts of extra space. Even the space available from the massive footprint of the table saw and jointer disappeared quickly. I immediately filled the space where the table saw went with my Joinery bench and my saw bench slotted nicely into the space where my jointer was. The key is that instead of these spaces going unused now they are vital to my workflow. The sawbench is a step away from my workbench. It is so conveniently placed that now I need to consider moving my saw til because it takes longer to go get a saw from the til than it does to make the cut. The joinery bench is in a temporary home off the wagon vise end of the bench. I have it angled in so the Moxon front vise is just a step away and it is very convenient. However, the short 32″ width makes it ideal to stick under the back window where I can get more natural light. This will be key when doing detail work like carving and inlay. With my tool cabinet completed I need to do some remodeling to make room to hang it above my saw bench and suddenly I will have a lot more available space with all the tools consolidated and within arms reach.
After 2 months of working this way, what I find interesting is that my “applied” space has shrunk. All of the places I work have contracted in around the Roubo workbench and it is rare that my feet ever leave the 24×48 anti fatigue mat in front of my bench. The lathe still sees a lot of use (especially at Christmas) and my bandsaw fills in when I’m feeling lazy but these tools fall outside my “sweet spot”. When I’m standing in this spot I can build anything and reach any tool. While my methods of work haven’t changed and the joy of working by hand is stronger than ever, this smaller work area feels more productive and less distracting.
So now when I look around the shop I find that there is a lot of unused space that is full of stuff. I have base cabinets and wall cabinets that are practically empty. My lumber corner is like some kind of virus that sucks up space and never is organized. I have already begun moving my lumber stash out of the shop and into my backyard shed (more on that in a podcast) in an attempt to recapture the front corner to eventually house my planned treadle lathe (Hand Tool School Semester 5). The thing is that other than the treadle lathe, the space freed up by cleaning out and consolidating does not have a plan. My current work methods don’t require any more tools, gasp! Were I still working along the power tool path, my first inclination upon freeing space in the shop would be to fill it with a drum sander or bigger planer.
Now with life after power tools, I think a rocking chair, reading lamp and a couple of nice framed pictures sounds like it would fill the space better.