Okay, so I started this blog with the intent of helping anyone else working in smalls space. After a year of living in an apartment in Korea, while constantly amassing new toys, I mean tools, I’ll have to say it has been a year of constant learning. I’ve said before, I’m a relatively young (new) woodworker so some of these anecdotes may be things you more experienced folk will laugh at. I’ll illustrate the first point with something from my personal experience. As a military flight instructor, I would always smile inside, when young flyers would say something like “Why do it that way? This way seems better?” and after trying to explain I would realize that some things the young guy/gal just has to learn for themselves. That being said, you’d think I’d be smart enough to follow suit in woodworking. Not! I would look at all these complex jigs guys were making and think “Why the heck do I need to build that when I can cross cut just fine or miter just fine with my saws/gauges?” So after a year away from the seeing eye of my woodworking mentor, I finally realized the importance of repeatable results in a cut or step on any project. Doh! So I ended up spending an entire weekend making nothing but basic “essential” jigs so that I would have dependable, repeatable, results on my cuts. My hats off to you more experienced woodworkers who chuckle when us younger guys think we know a “better” way. Lol
The next major lesson learned is one that applies to all shops, but has slightly different emphasis in small space woodworking is safety. I am not a safety freak by any means, but I’ll have to say I’ve definitely learned some lessons here recently. When you’re working in a small space like the deck of my apartment, you end up having to haul things back and forth as you need them, table saw, router table, miter saw, tool buckets (multiples here), work bench, power strips, shop vac…you get the picture. Well, there’s a natural tendency to try and keep things around 1)in case you need it again 2)because hauling that router table back into the laundry room only to find you need it again, totally stinks. What I wasn’t thinking about was the fact that it gets crowded real quick and while we all joke about tripping hazards, at the least I’ve knocked a few project boards onto the ground and had to repair them and at the worst, I almost face planted on my table saw blade. So always keeping the work area clean and organized has become one of my priorities. To that end I keep a broom out on the patio while working and just shop vac the end of the day.
The above experience also led me to realize that I should be “safing” my tools if they are not in immediate use. This is even more of a factor if you have small children. Again, in a small workspace, no space is really yours and my 4 children constantly remind me of this by wandering out onto the porch where I work so they can see what I’m up to. I always make sure to lower my table saw blade when I’m not using it and I unplug any of my power tools. This latter lesson learned after I saw my 3 year old plug in the Shop Vac so he could vaccum the patio! I had a heart attack realizing that could have been my miter saw!
I’ve chewed on your ears enough, but as always, I welcome any suggestions, comments, or critiques to help me grow as a woodworker. I’m still having a metric ton of fun making sawdust!
-- VR, Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams