Like most other home hobbyist woodworkers, I generally have to squeeze my shop time in around all the other life activities: the full time job, family time, church activities, household chores, yard work, and, in my case, music practice.
Available daily time to make sawdust and shavings ranges anywhere from twenty minutes to 1 hour per any given session. Some days, it doesn’t even happen at all.
I usually make it a point to spend around 15 minutes in the shop early each morning while the coffee is brewing and Mrs. handsawgeek hasn’t emerged from bed yet.
Since shop time is so limited and precious, I need to make the most out of each available opportunity. Even if the allotted time is not enough to complete a major operation on a project, I try to at least get SOMETHING done, even if it only amounts to tidying up, putting away a few tools and sweeping up some shavings.
For the most part, I usually have a plan for what will be accomplished in each session. Here’s a typical example:
“Let’s see – 45 minutes today. That should be enough to crosscut these four boards and lay out the locations for drilling the holes.”
To help me with this, I purchased a very handy tool found in the housewares department at Walmart for around three bucks:
A one hour kitchen timer.
This is one of those old-school spring-wound affairs that rings an obnoxious bell when time is up.
Now, whenever I start a work session in the shop, I set the device for my allotted time, pop a couple of Altoids, grab the work piece and tools, and get the planned tasks done.
When the timer goes off, I exclaim “Jeez, Already???” finish up what I’m doing and (reluctantly) close shop for that session.
This small, cheap plastic object clicking away in the corner of my workspace actually serves as an excellent training method for woodworking time management, organization, and efficiency.
It has taught me to plan out each step and operation of my projects, and to progress at a steady rate.
It deters me from becoming so absorbed in my work that I overstep my designated time limit.
It also inspires discipline in resisting the temptation to just ‘hang out’ in the shop without really getting anything done.
And it startles the Be-Jeebers out of me every time the dag-gone bell goes off!
That’s why it has been relegated to a window sill at the far end of the basement…..