Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Still Plugging Away
by James Glaser
April 8, 2011
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Some days it seems like it will take forever to get my studio into a smooth working shop, and on other days I see real progress. Today, I moved stored boxes off the studio porch into the storage building we moved to the back of the property. That opens up room for a little gallery for my work and also allows me to move some of the things in the work area, too.

I had a 20 by 70 studio in Tallahassee and my new space is 20 x 32. A little less than half the space, but with all the windows it seems bigger. Also, I put on a back porch for my chop saw and a screened in side porch to sand in. Soon I'll be moving my table saw out to that back porch. You can see in the photo the large fan I use to pull the sanding dust out of the sanding porch.

I am always thinking of ways to make this smaller space work better. I have a nice 4'x8' work table that I am thinking would be just as nice if I cut it down to 3'x6'. Also I have way too much wood stored in my shop. I don't know what I can do to make better use of that space except to start using up that wood as fast as I can.

I have three dust collectors, and I need them all, but I do have so many tools that I seldom use that I am thinking about getting back to using tool boxes for storage. I can remember how I built my first house with a skill saw, a hammer, a level, and a couple of squares. I still have those tools—well, not the same skill saw but all the rest. The waffle pattern on my framing hammer is smooth now from years of use, but the level is still fine. My kids bought that for me.

This is no joke. I have at least a dozen different hammers and maybe 40 wood chisels, 50 clamps, maybe ten sanders, three routers, several drills, both electric and battery ones. I look around and can easily see that I am what woodworkers call "tool rich." I even have a Gerstner oak tool box that my mom saved for a whole year to buy for my dad right after WWII. I don't know what it cost back then, but they are over $800 dollars today. Here is how the company writes about it today:

Gerstner 52 Journeyman Tool Chest

A tool chest recognized as being the standard of the industry. It's sized for craftsmen owning an average number of precision tools. Originally introduced in the mid 1930's, the Gerstner 52 has recently undergone some updating. This chest has a number of thin drawers ideally suited for collections of pens, pocketknives, watches or jewelry. The variation in drawer sizes makes it a good storage chest for just about anything. The top compartment and all ten drawers are felt lined to provide extra protection for your possessions. The front panel is fitted with a sliding hinge so that it may be stowed beneath the bottom drawer. In the closed position, the front panel covers the drawers and can be locked to provide total security.

26" W x 15-3/4" H x 9-1/2" D.

That tool box is still filled with my dad's machinist tools, and I do use them when I am working on my tools. Some day that box will be handed down to my son Garrett, along with most of my tools. Good thing he is a woodworker.

So I'm still plugging along, trying to get the studio looking and working the way I want. It is work, but it is also fun and will be a source of pride when everything is the way I want it. Meanwhile I am getting work done. You have to work in order to figure out the best place for each tool. It is going to take a while, and I am sure some tools will end up in places I have already tried them. I think a woodworker's shop reflects his or her personality. That makes it a special place, well worth the effort to get it right.

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