Opinion

At long last, I can make use of my shop

I’ve been working in my shop for the past couple of months. That has such a masculine ring to it, “working in my shop.” One of the perks of home ownership is having that place to build things or fix things, and the shop was one of the selling points when I bought my house 20 years ago.

The previous owner had framed in a 16 x 16 foot space under the deck, and I could envision all  the potential Popular Mechanics projects that could be pumped out of there as if it were an assembly line. After we first viewed the house, I can still recall my wife discussing bedroom sizes, kitchen cabinets, and carpeting and yet all I could remember was the big back yard and ‘The Shop.’

But over the years, the large, dry space became a storage area, but not just for my stuff. When my kids moved out, some boxes got left behind. When my Mom and Dad downsized, boxes and tools and furniture ended up there. More tools arrived when my uncle passed away.

It was usually very innocent. “Jim, can you store this stuff at your place for a bit?” The words “for a bit” always held an inference that there was some sort of plan for removal of said stuff in the near future, but there never was.

This resulted in shuffling and moving this stuff whenever I wanted to do something. The final straw was last summer, when I wanted to use a hack saw to cut a bolt. I squeezed between couches and tables, climbed over some boxes  and stacked some chairs just to get to the work bench. It was like a scene from Canadian Pickers and I still had to find the hack saw. That was it.

I hauled stuff to the dump. I took items to Penny Pincher and Salvation Army, resisting the urge at both thrift stores not to go in and buy more stuff. I was finally able to stand in this big, open space, my shop, and make a plan. I helped a friend move in some new kitchen cabinets to their basement suite and salvaged the old ones for my shop. After a good pressure washing to get rid of cobwebs and dust, I bought some insulation and some paneling.

The cabinets went up and another work bench was installed. The lighting and wiring were upgraded, and this past weekend I was making windowsills and frames out of some old cedar siding. Not exactly the project assembly line, but production just the same.

There is something about a saw blade ripping through  a piece of cedar. The smell carries you back to your high school woodworking class or the summer job when  the boss finally trusts you to use the table saw and you are promoted from labourer to craftsman in one afternoon.

People ask me what I’m going to do in there once it’s done. I have an old Fire Chief pedal car that needs to be restored. I have all sorts of fire department memorabilia that needs to be unboxed and hung on a wall. Maybe I’ll do absolutely nothing.

But with the radio on the oldies station and the paint brush sliding over that new window trim, it sure is a relaxing place to be. It might even be a good place to come up with some ideas for my column. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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