Raffish

I think I have a reputation for raffish workshop areas. The photo is of my workshop in the mid-nineties. I’ve never been able to have the sort of lovely shops you see in the woodworking magazines. It would be sheer pretense anyway. My shops tend to get set up wherever there is room; esthetics be damned.
Still, there should be some requirements for work areas. You might think size would matter, but I’ve known carpenters with hatches cut into their shed backs so they could work with long planks. And an early mentor of mine worked in the corner of his kitchen. So not size.
Thinking on it, I’d say that the criteria are good light, a stable work surface, and a handy place to rack tools ready for use. Depending on how much stink or dust you create, you need to add ventilation.

One of my earliest shops spaces was a picnic table, a carver’s hook, and my tools. This “shop” was in the woods of Ontario. I wasn’t lonely in this shop. I had to put up with a pair of Whiskey Jacks ( Canadian Jay’s) who’d come by and noisily critique whatever I accomplished ( unlike most critics, though, they’d shut up for an oatmeal cookie). I use that recollection as a reminder to myself that creative areas do not need to be complex.
People say to themselves, “Wait. When we move or retire, I’ll have a lovely workshop like that one in Fine Woodworking.” My advice is that you not wait. Creativity in wood can work well under simple circumstances. You may have to scale your projects to size, but you have no excuse for not being creative.

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