LumberJocks

The Shop Environment and How It Affects Our Mood While Working

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Blog entry by TheWoodenOyster posted 12-24-2014 05:19 PM 1523 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently have moved to a temporary shop because my wife and I are between houses at the moment, living in an apartment. Moving to a new shop really gave me the chance to compare two very different shop spaces and how they function, as well as how I feel when I am working in them. I have come upon some interesting findings and would like to share them with y’all and see if you agree or disagree and if you have anything you would like to add. As a disclaimer, I was in no way educated in space planning, interior design, urban design, architecture, or any other field where the spacial environment was studied. In fact, I come from a construction background, so I am architects’ worst enemy. ;).

1. Lighting affects us consciously and subconsciously.

In my first shop, I had great artificial lighting, but poor natural lighting. As a result of this, I found that in my old shop I would say to myself “man the lighting in here is great”, but I often felt I was sort of in an assembly line atmosphere while working. In my current shop, I have poor artificial lighting, but good natural lighting. In this shop, I sort of mutter about the lighting being poor, but I feel more like I am at home in a tranquil place. I think the lighting plays a large factor in these feelings. My conclusion here is that artificial lighting is very functional on a surface level and does aid in our ability to work accurately. That said, I think natural lighting is more encouraging on a deeper level and keeps the mood up as wells as making a workspace feel more relaxing and tranquil. I think the perfect storm in a shop is a place with as many windows as possible to keep up the mood, and a good amount of artificial lighting for practical accuracy reasons.

2. High quality machines and tools make us more willing and more excited to get to work in the shop.

Now first off, I understand that not everyone can afford all of the tools they want. Neither can I. I have a good setup toolwise, probably a little above average compared to other LJs. Nowhere near what I would like to have in the end. Now onto the deep part. How many times have we all said to ourselves “Oh Boy! I can’t wait to go use my crappy planer that jams all the time and trips the breaker and has blunt knives to plane all of the this hard maple! The tearout will be marvelous! I’ll get to sand for hours! Let’s hop to it!” Never. None of us ever say that. In fact, we say the opposite: “That @#$^% planer. I know I need to get that stuff milled, but I would rather clip my toenails than send anything thru that planer. Screw it. I’ll just watch the food network.” That’s more like it, right? Poorly performing machines drive us all nuts, and whether we like to admit it or not, keep us out of the shop. So, my conclusions here are numerous. First, tune up your tools so that they perform as well as possible. Second, keep your blades sharp (oops). And third, save up and buy sweet tools. I truly believe that top-notch tools make woodworking easier, more fun, and give better results. This is why helical heads are on my list.

3. Good shop layout and planning saves us time and frustration.

I haven’t had the opportunity yet to set my “stationary” tools in stationary places. I have thousands of pounds of machinery on casters because it is what I have to do. I also have a roll around dust collector and one 220 outlet that I have to run 4 220 machines off of. Lots of unplugging and moving hoses around. My bet would be that 90% of us don’t have tools in stationary places. It’s not too practical for many hobbyists. So, if it must roll, make it easy. My old shop allowed me to roll my tools into the driveway and get working in about 2 minutes. In my current shop, it takes at least 10 minutes to take apart the puzzle of junk and roll my tools out and get to work. Now, that isn’t too bad unless you work in hourlong increments like many of us. I’ll gladly go set up the tools if I can work for an hour and only be cleaning up and moving around tools for 10 or 15 minutes of the hour. On the other hand, if I know I will be moving around junk for half of the work time I have, I ain’t gonna do it. The conclusion here is make your mobile tools easy to get into working position. We want to spend time working wood, not moving stuff. Oh, and if you ever get the room, make the tools stationary, permanently wired and ducted. That is a long term goal for most of us though.

I guess that is about it for now. Our shops are a challenge. Working with spouses, vehicles, lawn mowers, Christmas decorations, etc. isn’t easy. I think dedicating time and money into making the shop a positive place to work is totally worth the investment. I honestly believe good light, good tools, and good layout are half the battle when it comes to enjoying shop time. Believe me when I say I have in no way mastered the points above, but I do think they are something to strive for. I look forward to hearing your comments. Until then, there is a stellar episode of barefoot contessa on the food network right now, and I really need to clip my toenails.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster



6 comments so far

View NormG's profile

NormG

5510 posts in 2471 days


#1 posted 12-24-2014 09:24 PM

Yes, they are

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

5061 posts in 2615 days


#2 posted 12-25-2014 01:07 AM

I hear ya about the good lighting—nothing like trying to read your tape measure, and not seeing the 1/16th marks….....

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" James Lawrence, CAPT, USN

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3139 posts in 3180 days


#3 posted 12-26-2014 03:37 AM

I have to agree with you. I keep adding more and more lights to my shop. The older we get, the more light we need. I’m considering adding this:

I’m not too sure about lots of windows. With my klutziness I would probably end up putting a board through it . . . but maybe not if my shop had 12’ ceilings and about 10,000 square feet! I often have trouble turning around any board over 8 feet long and not hitting at least one thing in the process. Skylights might be nice but they usually end up leaking some where down the line.

I don’t have to share a shop with cars but it could be 10x larger so that I wouldn’t have to move things around. Sharing dust collection ports isn’t optimal, but only my small planer and floor belt/disc sander have to share. I’d really like automatic blast gates . . . dream on.

Better quality tools could make a big difference but so can good jigs, and it also wouldn’t hurt if I had a clue about what I was doing. I can’t cut a 45 degree bevel at 90 degrees to save my life! Some day I’ll make myself a decent crosscut sled.

Now back to the shop!

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3139 posts in 3180 days


#4 posted 12-26-2014 03:44 AM

I have to agree with you. I keep adding more and more lights to my shop. The older we get, the more light we need. I’m considering adding this:

I’m not too sure about lots of windows. With my klutziness I would probably end up putting a board through it . . . but maybe not if my shop had 12’ ceilings and about 10,000 square feet! I often have trouble turning around any board over 8 feet long and not hitting at least one thing in the process. Skylights might be nice but they usually end up leaking some where down the line.

I don’t have to share a shop with cars but it could be 10x larger so that I wouldn’t have to move things around. Sharing dust collection ports isn’t optimal, but only my small planer and floor belt/disc sander have to share. I’d really like automatic blast gates . . . dream on.

Better quality tools could make a big difference but so can good jigs, and it also wouldn’t hurt if I had a clue about what I was doing. I can’t cut a 45 degree bevel at 90 degrees to save my life! Some day I’ll make myself a decent crosscut sled.

Now back to the shop!

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

5061 posts in 2615 days


#5 posted 12-27-2014 01:26 AM

L/W, I like the idea of the miner’s hat—but not sure the bright pink would look good on me…........!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" James Lawrence, CAPT, USN

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

7708 posts in 2310 days


#6 posted 12-27-2014 05:52 PM

Added more light fixtures with different types of bulbs. Still have issues in seeing some stuff. I have a combination of the old barnsiding and drywall which is a little off white. The siding adds warmth, the drywall adds light and sound insulation. I have a north window and the main shop is on the side under the trees. I can see the outside, but nothing beats sunlight! Usually do as much as I can in the parking area when weather allows. Thinking about an octagon window above my entrance door. Windows on sun side are also in public area. Made them smaller for security reasons?

As far as layout and working space the shop area keeps getting smaller as I’ve added machines? Everything but the lathe is on casters. Thinking about the remaining two small benches which are attached to the wall. All flat surfaces have something on them! My vertical surfaces seem to have acquired materials? Finding new storage spaces like my unused basement areas. So I might feel less cluttered. Ha,Ha, Ha. Biggest challenge?

Happy New Year!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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