Setting Up Shop #1: A stroke of luck

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Blog entry by DonnyBahama posted 06-21-2011 11:23 PM 1598 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Setting Up Shop series Part 2: Xmas in July »

I recently got very lucky; I’m really excited about this and thought I’d share the story.

To provide a little background, I used to have a nice garage workshop in our house in San Diego. The centerpiece/anchor of the shop was a Grizzly 1023S cabinet saw. But when we lost the house (mortgage adjusted up by over 50% at the same time that my wife became disabled and we lost over 1/3 of our income) the saw went into storage for 3+ years until financial necessity (combined with the low likelihood that I’d be doing any woodworking in the near future) compelled me to sell it – for a fraction of what it was worth. Adding insult to injury, we moved from CA to AZ (where I now have a nice garage where I could’ve used it) just a few months after I sold it. Now on with the story…

A few days ago, I got a handyman call from an elderly couple (I’ll call them Nick and Norma) who wanted a ceiling fan installed in their kitchen. I went to take a look at what the job would entail and give them an estimate. While there, I noticed that Nick had a Grizzly cabinet saw. It was a G0478 – a lower model than the one I had but still a nice piece of machinery. I mentioned my love for woodworking and the Grizzly saw I used to have. Nick told me that his was for sale. He can no longer use it – he’s 76 and has very shaky hands. He also has vertigo and a fused right wrist from an accident. The last time he tried to use it, it kicked back on him and he broke his thumb.

With my wife’s disability and high medical expenses, we just barely scrape by on the money I bring in doing handyman jobs, computer work, and web design. I’ve tried to find a good full-time job since moving to the Tucson area in February, but so far, no luck. So Nick’s asking price ($550 for the saw, $750 for the saw and $500 worth of accessories) was way beyond my reach right now.

When I showed up the next day to install the ceiling fan, they told me they also wanted two can lights installed. Happy for the extra work, I took off for Lowes where I spent $60 on the materials I needed. The can lights were reasonably easy; one was to replace an existing (hanging) light fixture. The other one was going into a spot where there was no existing fixture or power, but it was less than 10 feet away, so I ran power from the first one, putting it on the same switch. The ceiling fan was also a new installation, with no fixture or power where they wanted it installed. But there was a can light just a few feet away, and they didn’t mind having the ceiling fan on the same wall switch as that (and two other) can light(s).

After two hours in the 110 degree attic heat in the late afternoon, I was exhausted and drenched in my own sweat. I tested he two new can lights and they worked properly. The ceiling fan also worked properly – but the nearby can light (that I got the ceiling fan’s power from) did not. It was obviously a simple connection issue but Nick didn’t want me going back up in the attic in my obviously exhausted state. “Come back tomorrow,” he said. As I was loading up my tools, I kept looking at that table saw. Before I left, I asked Nick if he was in a hurry to sell it. He wasn’t. I told him I was hoping to find a full-time job soon and would hopefully be in a position to buy it from him in 2 or 3 months.

He asked how much he owed me for the work I had done that day and I told him. “I’ll tell you what,” he said, “I can’t do anything on my current workbench because it’s too low. When I look down or reach down to do anything, my vertigo acts up. I’ve been wanting a big 4' x 8' work table with a higher work surface so I can still work on stuff, but I can’t build it. If you’ll build it for me, that plus the work you’ve done for me today and the table saw and all the accessories are yours.”

I was pretty flabbergasted. I gratefully accepted but told him that I would have built the work table for him for nothing – just for the pleasure of doing some woodworking and using his table saw. But he said he’d be happy to see someone use it and enjoy it and he wanted me to have it.

On the way home, I got to thinking about the downsides to this deal… As great a deal as it was, my wife and and I weren’t in a good position for absorbing the $60 I had spent at Lowes. (But could I really turn down such a great deal over $60???) Another problem was going to be the expense of getting a 220V circuit from the breaker box (at the opposite end of the house) to the garage. I went home and told my wife, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news…” She was very happy for me – but also worried about the $60 and the cost of getting 220 to the garage. We decided to sleep on it.

The next day, I went back over to Nick’s – bright and early – to fix the can light before it got too hot in the attic. It was a quick fix and I was done in half an hour. As I was loading up my tools, Nick handed me a check. It covered the cost of the work (as I’d quoted him the day before) plus a nice tip! “But I thought…” I said. “No, no,” Nick interrupted, “the deal is still on. You supply the materials and build me my worktable and the saw is yours. But I know you need the money so I’m paying you for the work you’ve done.”

I was speechless but finally managed a very heartfelt thanks. On the way home, I stopped at my Dad’s house (just around the corner from Nick’s) I’d already told him the story up to that point and wanted to tell him about this latest development. He was really impressed by Nick’s generosity and offered me his truck to go get the materials for the table. He’d also been doing some thinking about my 220V problem. “I bet you have a 220V hookup behind your dryer,” he said. My dryer is maybe 5 feet from the back garage wall. “And isn’t your dryer gas?” Well, it is gas, and I do have an unused 220 outlet there. It’s not going to cost much to extend that circuit and put an outlet in the garage.

There’s still another problem, though. All the garages in this area were built with only one AC outlet in the garage. My dust collector needs a dedicated 15 amp circuit and the garage is very poorly lit. But here’s the icing on the cake…

While I was working on my garage last weekend (trying to get it ready to become a wood shop – and maybe even hold a car, too) I noticed a blank wall plate up above the water heater. I climbed my ladder and pulled it off. It’s another 220V circuit (2×30 amp legs) – for an electric water heater! Our water heater is gas, so I’m going to use it to supply a subpanel with 4×15 amp circuits – one for my dust collector, one for lighting, and two for other tools. Plenty of available power for my wood shop!

This story is continued here.

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

17 comments so far

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3273 days

#1 posted 06-21-2011 11:41 PM

That is great.. Looks like some good luck came your way. Saw, electrical power and a good shop.
I have the same Grizzly GO478 table saw that I bought about 3 1/2 years ago…when it was $595 new from Grizzly… when I built my new shop. I have been very satisfied with it and it is wired for 120 volts but can be also wired for 220v.
Our house was switched over from all electric to propane a couple of years ago and it freed up alot of spare electric also.
Have fun in your shop and let us see some of those future woodworking projects.

View MedicKen's profile


1612 posts in 3427 days

#2 posted 06-21-2011 11:58 PM

Good things do happen do good people. There is a reason that Nick and Norma called you. I dont know if you believe, but God is making things happen for you right now. Keep a positive attitude and He will provide. I am very happy for you and have fun with the new toy.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20284 posts in 3070 days

#3 posted 06-22-2011 01:55 AM

Donny, that is a good story. Sometimes you find people appreciate what you do for them and reward you much more than expected. I sure he is glad that the saw will be put to good use.
That sound like a nice saw. I have a few Grizzly tools and love them. I’d recommend them to any one. Now you are on your way to getting a shop going again. Thanks for sharing the story!!........Jim

ps. We come to Arizona in the winter and I complain about the heat and everyone says “But it is a dry heat!!”

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View DonnyBahama's profile


215 posts in 2496 days

#4 posted 06-22-2011 02:00 AM

Thanks, everyone, for the input. I am really liking this online community!

Jim, I know what you mean. There’s nothing dry about it when you’re sweating buckets! What part of AZ do you visit? (I’m south of Tucson and would be happy to drink a beer with you in my shop this winter!

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

View gagewestern's profile


308 posts in 3315 days

#5 posted 06-22-2011 03:52 AM

i am glad things are looking up , hang in their.

-- gagewestern

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3071 days

#6 posted 06-22-2011 04:01 AM

Danny, My heat in the Mojave is drier that your heat in the Sonora. lol

Congrats on the new goodies. Next time you see “Nick”, give him our regards from all the lumberjocks for his kindness. The world needs more people like him and you!

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 3000 days

#7 posted 06-22-2011 04:18 AM

You are just living right, that’s all. I’m happy for you.

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View rance's profile


4255 posts in 3125 days

#8 posted 06-22-2011 04:36 AM

Nice man, nice saw, nice situation. It is good to see that all come together as it did. Thanks for sharing it with us.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3108 days

#9 posted 06-22-2011 08:21 PM

Great story, Donny. Welcome to LumberJocks.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View woodman1962's profile


150 posts in 2653 days

#10 posted 06-23-2011 12:39 AM

Great story good things happen for a reason good luck with the saw


View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2878 days

#11 posted 06-23-2011 02:56 PM

Great start Donny! Things are looking up for you for sure. Sounds like between Nick and your dad, you have a good support system where you live and that is important. I am sure you will be up and running in no time.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Richard's profile


297 posts in 2502 days

#12 posted 06-24-2011 01:02 AM

Really enjoyed the read. Random acts of kindness always come back ten fold.
Looking forward to pics of the set up shop.

-- 'I sand, therefore, I am'. Richard. PNW.

View davidc's profile


43 posts in 3272 days

#13 posted 06-27-2011 12:11 AM

As I read the heart warming story i can’t help feeling warm inside as to how things worked out for you. But here’s a thought you may ponder. You did an excellent job of writing this story of yours. I’m suggesting a side line for you. Do some writing. Maybe you’ve done some, maybe not any. In the woodworking industry there is always room for more information on how to design and produce projects. Myself being a self taught person I wish I had had more ” how to manuals” available to me.

Good luck with your new saw and use sticks for finger protectors, so you don’t get your fingers into the saw like I did. Cuts on two fingers, but thankfully in time they will heal back to normal. Piece of wood flying back did the damage. If I had been using push sticks it would have prevented that accident. I made a couple of custom sticks
and hopefully stay back from the blade.

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4365 days

#14 posted 06-27-2011 12:28 AM

Congratulations. Wanting to help someone can have it’s rewards.

Be blessed.

-- 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 DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2526 days

#15 posted 06-27-2011 12:31 AM

The Lord works in mysterious ways. If he just snapped his fingers and things happened there would be no mystery. By making events fall into place…now that is mysterious.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

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