Last year, a friend at work saw a pen that I made, and suggested that we go in together and make a bunch as office Christmas gifts. I agreed, so we set about making plans. We made about 30, and they were big hits. (At least none were thrown back at us! :o) )
However, he was a bit taken aback by the amount of materials, unfinished projects, and general clutter. He commented that his own shop needed to be cleaned out and reorganized, and suggested that we take turns helping each other with our shops.
The first Saturday I went to his place, and realized that I’d been had! His shop was hardly cluttered, and it took us all of 2 hours to tear through the “clutter”, toss the old, unusable stuff, sweep up, and start planning the new layout that he wanted.
The following Saturday was my turn. Tom showed up bright and early, and we worked all morning long. He questioned me every time I thought about keeping something “because I might need it someday”, and we made three piles: Keep it; sort it later; and haul it to the dump. The dump pile completely filled my 15-passenger Chevy Express 3500 van (seats out). The second pile got sorted out over the next couple of weeks, and most of it got tossed, too.
We’ve done this every month or two, and my shop looks a lot better. Together we have installed the eight drawers in my outfeed table that I had made but never hung; made a plan to install another set of lumber racks; cleaned and cleaned and cleaned; and helped me break through my pack-rat mentality. Without his persistence, I would have never made as much progress. I still have way too much stuff, with tool duplication and an excess of supplies, so I’ll probably start listing things on eBay. I buy quality tools; maybe I’ll make enough cash to buy the materials to fix up the kitchen cabinets.
His shop is really shaping up, too. We’ve had long discussions about tools and machinery, and he just bought a new lathe and sliding miter saw. I’ll go over in a couple of weeks and help him set it all up according to the plan that we made, rearrange the layout, and pipe the dust collection system. His shop will be much more efficient when we’re done.
I guess the moral of the story is that we should be neighborly towards one another and gently offer help when we see a need; and also to put our pride aside and accept help when it is offered. Pay it forward, and be thankful for friends.
-- The days are long and the years are short...