MY DREAM SHOP ...sigh.

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Blog entry by Blake posted 12-29-2010 07:58 AM 9317 reads 2 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I write this blog with a heavy heart.

Two years ago I met a fellow woodworker, who had moved from Colorado to Santa Cruz to live out his dream of setting up his dream shop and building fine furniture in California. We hit it off and became great friends. We have actually been working together and talking about woodworking ever since he moved here. We had talked about the possibility of combining our shops, and a few months ago out of nowhere he said “ok, lets just do it.”

I was delighted, and that afternoon we both took our trucks up to my old shop and loaded up. I was moved in by the end of the week. Well, it has been absolutely awesome. We have very similar personalities and work habits. We had no problem sharing our tools and machinery with each other because we had a mutual trust for each other’s respect and care for tools. I have been working for a few months now in my absolute DREAM SHOP, and have had a great time building together and bouncing design ideas off of each other.

Well unfortunately a major client that he was relying on pulled the plug on a big project and the finances unravelled pretty quickly. At the same time an old client in Colorado offered him a large remodel job and a place to set up shop for free for a while. Rent is pretty expensive in Santa Cruz, and he had to make the decision to move back.

Its a sad story for me, but an even more tragic story for my friend, who’s dream became another casualty of this stupid economy.

I was contributing to the shop but I won’t be able to pay the rent myself. So I will have to move my tools back into my tiny, cold, dark, damp, dusty, rat infested old horse stable, with enough power for one 60w light bulb (no 220v). At least I still have a place to go back to, the old shop was on my grandparents property and I’m still welcome to it.

Since I was just starting to settle in to the new shop, I was planning on taking photos and proudly posting them on my “workshop” page. Instead I will post them here. I cleaned the shop tonight just to take these last photos, before we start to dismantle it. So here they are.

Shop Description:
  • 1600 square feet
  • High ceilings
  • 3-phase power
  • Plumbed compressed air
  • Full-size dust collection
  • Dedicated finishing room
  • 12” Table saw
  • 8” jointer
  • 15” planer
  • 21” bandsaw
  • 9’ X 5’ assembly table
  • Power lift assembly table
  • excellent lighting
  • heated

Looking North:


Looking East:


Looking South:


Looking West:


From above:




Looking up:



The shop had enough room for this HUGE rolling 5’ X 9’ assembly table:


This is an industrial hydraulic power lift with a solid wood workbench top mounted to it. It is an AWESOME tool for building furniture. Here it is with my Credenza sitting on it.


The out-feed table was a LARGE downdraft table for sanding:


This was my little corner where I kept my hand tool bench and most of my hand tools:


This is actually my 12” Delta radial arm saw. It moved to his shop long before I did because I didn’t have the room or the power (220v) to run it at my old shop.


The BEAST… Grizzly 21” bandsaw:


A unique feature is this drop down canvas for taking photos of finished projects:


Its kind of hard to tell right now but this side room is where we do our finishing. It stays relatively dust free so we can work in the shop at the same time we are finishing:


This corner is cluttered right now, but we were planning on organizing it into the sharpening station:


The lathe:


Anyway, It was fun while it lasted. And I really got a lot done too. I finished several projects lately that I will post when I get a chance. The Credenza is almost done. My friend offered to help me prepare it for the finishing booth before he left so I wouldn’t have to haul it back to the old shop uncompleted.

Even though I will have a place to set up my tools again, I will probably slow down on the woodworking quite a bit for the rest of the year. My wife and I are saving up to buy a house, so hopefully in the not-too-distant future I will have a garage of my own to work in.

Happy woodworking,

-- Happy woodworking!

30 comments so far

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2930 days

#1 posted 12-29-2010 08:15 AM

Nah, the barn would be better.

Seriously, sorry that you had to part with a friend and a great shop.
You have a lot of talents, I am pretty sure you can turn that tiny rat infested space in a great shop.

good luck.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4089 days

#2 posted 12-29-2010 08:16 AM

That can’t be easy Blake. But I’m reminded of a fellow LJer on here (can’t remember his name) who produces some pretty awesome pieces from his apartment in NY City. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. With your talent and passion for woodworking I have no doubt another wonderful place to work is in your future. Just hang in there.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2979 days

#3 posted 12-29-2010 08:19 AM

Hi blake; this was indeed a sweet shop, to produce projects in. i guess it was fun while it lasted!
bide your time as you say you’ll save for your first home. good luck…
this economy justs SUCKS!

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3006 days

#4 posted 12-29-2010 09:14 AM

Amazing looking shop – I’m sorry you have to leave it. It’s probably worse to leave working side-by-side with a friend you trust than it is to leave the shop space.

Have you looked around for other pro/semi-pro woodworkers in Santa Cruz to share the rent with you?

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View GuyK's profile


356 posts in 4075 days

#5 posted 12-29-2010 02:18 PM

Blake, I am in the process of starting my “Dream Shop”. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of yours. Good luck in the future.

By the way, live4ever is so right in saying that is a amazing shop.

-- Guy Kroll

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3085 days

#6 posted 12-29-2010 02:56 PM

Yes that sure was one wonderful shop.
But the shop is nothing but ‘dead’ things, so you should not mind, my workshop are a small basement room, and I never had a better shop, even I had ten times more space in my old house. It’s all in your mind, so decide to make the new (old) shop your favorite place and it will be.
But it’s a shame with the friend leaving, this is a chance that are gone, but you do have some wonderful memory, so stick to that.
If you did not had that experience you would not be where you are today.
Best thoughts from my heart,
(And you are welcome to come to my shop…smiles).

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View helluvawreck's profile


31056 posts in 2863 days

#7 posted 12-29-2010 03:00 PM

Blake, I’m real sorry about both of your setbacks. The economy has really hurt a lot of people. We have a really thriving community that has grown a lot in the last 30 years, however, even in our town there was one section of thriving small businesses in the little business suites along with a number of larger businesses that took up from 10,000 sq feet to 40,000 sq feet. Three or four of the businesses were woodworking businesses. Now the whole area looks like a ghost town and the building owners can’t find anyone to take there place. If I had to guess, I would have to say that there are 15 or maybe even 20 once thriving businesses that are no longer here in that section of town alone. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the economy is going to get that much better anytime soon because I don’t think the politicians have really done anything much to solve our underlying problems. I wish you the best in your little shop and I hope that you can hang in there. We have laid off over half of our workers in our plant and it has been that way for well over a year but we are hanging in there because we have always been a low overhead company and we have now cut it to the bone.

BTW, that was a beautiful shop the two of you had there. Hang in there buddy and I hope your friend can do the same. :)

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4096 days

#8 posted 12-29-2010 03:30 PM

Wow – sorry to hear things did not work out longer with this situation for both of you guys.

Look forward to seeing the projects when you get them posted.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4397 days

#9 posted 12-29-2010 03:47 PM

Blake: A great looking workspace. I’m glad that you had the opportunity do it.
And sorry it had to end. Good luck in getting resetup up.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3829 days

#10 posted 12-29-2010 04:17 PM

Sorry to hear this, Blake. Sounds like it was a great arrangement and looks like a beautiful shop. I’m sure the experience will be useful when you build your new home/shop. BTW, I read your credenza blog—great project, can’t wait for the next installments!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3669 days

#11 posted 12-29-2010 04:21 PM

I am sorry to hear things did not work out, that was a beautiful shop.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2853 days

#12 posted 12-29-2010 04:23 PM

Blake I hope that you find a house with a dream workplace.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3878 days

#13 posted 12-29-2010 04:46 PM

Hey Blake, my heart goes out to you. Dang.
You will prevail, as long as I have know you, you always have.

Chin up dude,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2800 days

#14 posted 12-29-2010 05:04 PM

awesome shop… I wouldn’t have wanted to carry all that nice, heavy equipment down those stairs.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2980 days

#15 posted 12-29-2010 05:07 PM

Hi Blake,
While the loss of a dream shop can be a set back, the loss of a woodworking buddy is the greatest loss. There is nothing like a friend to share experiences and skills with side by side.

I remember When I was going through the LJ shop tours seeing your shop and was inspired by the pics and video of your small shop. Seeing how you transformed the horse barn into a wonderful 374 sq. ft. small shop. While going back may seem to be a let down it is yours to do as you please. Use the money you save in the rent and add the upgrades to make your shop better to work in. From the pics of your old shop it looks as if you have the space to add on once you have done the upgrades you need to the existing shop. There is comfort and security there knowing that finances won’t dictate having to move due to the economy.

While my last 2 shops were nice with plenty of room they weren’t mine and having to move sucks. I had to make a decision to give up woodworking or get something that would provide me with the security of not having to move again. Which led me to buy a prefab shed 12’ x 30’ to make into a shop. At first this was a let down because of its size, but then I realized that once it was set up and working I could add on to it down the road. Seeing how you set up your small shop was an inspiration that this would work. Although getting it ready has had its set backs I plan to have it wired and running by April this new year.

My point is that set backs may be disheartening, but you have something that can become your dream shop with time and improvements. May 2011 be a year of new beginnings in an old building with new possibilities. Take care and I look forward to your next video of shop upgrades that you will make to make your new dream shop.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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