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That was my mid-afternoon weather observation offering to my patient, devoted wife, as I stood dripping in our kitchen. I’m not like other woodworkers; I have the benefit of an air conditioned shop. I’m bragging, I realize, but after all that’s something worth bragging about. I’m just very glad to have a shop at all, let alone one that is so well air conditioned, and air conditioning that uses no electricity as a bonus!
Okay, by now you are beginning to catch on. My shop is set up in a barn that was erected in the 1920’s (that’s unimaginably old by Texas standards) using lumber that was obviously milled there on the ranch. The belt-driven circular saw that hooks up to the old McCormick H-model’s PTO still spins freely! The barn was built in order to house feed and hay for cattle and goats, and therefore it had no particular need to be, shall we say, pristine. Since it was built, a shed roof was added to the south side of the barn, and then the sides under the shed roof enclosed as well, creating what Texans call a lean-to. This was to house cattle and goats during feeding time. The upper 1/3 of the south wall of the barn was then removed in order to facilitate this feeding. Not a bad plan, if you are either a rancher, cow, or goat.
Now that it is 2008, we are faced with the reality that the lumber used to sheath this barn, long since unpainted (if it ever was) has become, well, autonomous. Nary a board touches another board. Some boards sport gaps of 1-1\2” between them, leaving the unwary woodworker inside subject to a fascinating pattern of striped sunburn should he not be wary. I’ve always wanted a unique shop.
This particular arrangement offers a number of advantages. First and foremost, I never need to worry about whether there is enough insulation to make heating and cooling efficient. At this point, that realm is entirely God’s. Another advantage is that I can keep my fan population at a minimum, as there is always a breeze through the building, like it or not. And where I live in Texas, there is always a nice, warm summer breeze… through my shop. Weather reports are easy—look up, and you can see what it’s doing outside. Noise? Who cares? The cows, horses, or deer? Are you a wildlife admirer? Great! Some will be passing through shortly…
Yesterday I spent all but a few hours in my shop, most of the time following the Way of the Galoot (I’m working toward my Galoot merit badge…) Chopping dovetails and planing boards can be strenuous work. At 97 degrees, I tend to be rather wet and rank from perspiration, and since I earned that yesterday, I was making no apologies for it. As we got ready for bed last night, my wife told me my feet were dragging (I thought that I was lucky, because it felt like there were other parts of my anatomy that would qualify.) This morning, my hands won’t work the keyboard and mouse properly. My feet are killing me from being on them so much, my lower back aches from being hunched over my workbench, and various and sundry other parts would much rather have stayed in bed this morning, rather than come to work. As I was inventorying my aches and pains, however, I came to a firm, but probably not startling conclusion.
I would do it all again today.
-- There's no tool like an old tool...