the humble house workshop #1: Very very humble beginnings

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Blog entry by kiwi1969 posted 05-03-2009 06:13 PM 1319 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of the humble house workshop series Part 2: Every shop needs a bench (please don,t laugh) »

As my life slowly, frustratingly and boringly meanders along the path of unemployment, with the occasional swift hard kick to the nuts, just to remind me there is a greater force than me in control, I often spend my idle hours pondering things, most of which is absolute rubbish. Things like ” do the French actually eat frogs, or do they just convince tourists to eat them to secretly show their utter contempt for anyone who is not French” and ” could Stanley possibly have made a more uncomfortable saw handle for their model 20-007 crosscut saw or did they do it deliberately just so they can have something to laugh at during board meetings when they discover some idiot just payed for one” Ok I shouldn,t expect much for 400 peso,s but honestly I,ve not had hand cramp this bad since I last rode a Triumph bonneville with apehanger handlebars.

The reason I payed 400peso,s for a Stanley hand cramping machine is that one of the things i,ve been pondering about for a while now is “how do you start a workshop from nothing”. You can,t build a bench with out tools, of any description, and you can,t make tools without first buying tools, which then begs the question ” how much do I spend and of what quality should those tools be?” Should I just get basic cheap tools, enough to allow me to make what I really want, or spend the bucks now. In the end the answer for me was the former because A I have no bucks to spend, and B What I want is most likely not available anyway. I have mentioned in previous blogs how I tried to start a small cabinet shop but that I just could,nt get a backer and so that idea has been filed away for another time. Since then as my possesions slowly get sold off, a mans gotta eat you know, I,ve realised that I can actually live a lot simpler than I had been without compromising the basic comforts of life and that has lead me to try a different aproach to starting my workshop.

Based on that I have been trying to develop a firm idea on just what shape I want this new workshop to take, and although the details change as new knowledge comes to light, the basic form is slowly but surely evolving, although I doubt anyone who has a firm idea about their workshop actually works in that shop, workshops just seem to evolve and change over time with, for the most part I think, a certain amount of compromise being required on the part of the woodworker.

And so My new enterprise begins from the ground up, with nothing but some ace hardware hand tools and a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood on this day Monday May 4th 2009 here in the colourfull suburb of Las Pinas in the teeming mega city of Manila on the verdant island of Luzon , in the tropical fun filled, rice growing, beer drinking, jeepney driving, hot babe producing, Manny Pacquiao loving Philipines. Feel free to say a prayer, wish me luck or send cash, I,m gonna need all of it.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

5 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#1 posted 05-03-2009 06:37 PM

Sorry about the not sending Cash part. I have been to a cabinet shop in a small town that when I pulled up the drive way was full of cabinets. I was there to look at a drill press he had for sale, when I saw all the cabinets I asked how long he had been making cabinets and he said 12 years. I then went in his shop and saw a drill press about 8 saw horses and a router and circular saw I said where’s your table saw ,he said he never had one, I said you have made cabinets for 12 years with out a table saw ? He said he learned to make cabinets with a straight edge a circular saw and a router and found that to work just fine. I asked why he was selling the drill press he said it was in they way and that he didn’t use it. Some times when I look in my shop and wish I had more room because of to many tools I think about that man and our forefathers not having any power tools at all an them making furniture that sells for millions now. So the question is how many tools do we really need to build a ????. Good luck on your new shop.


-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jim's profile


150 posts in 3344 days

#2 posted 05-03-2009 07:04 PM

In the end the all time ultimate tool needed is…. a pocket knife. Go for it. :)

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#3 posted 05-03-2009 07:36 PM

And may be a dovetail jig by Jim

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3767 days

#4 posted 05-03-2009 11:56 PM

The last time I was on the island of Luzon (‘70’s), you could get just about anything made of wood for a carton of Salem cigarettes. I would guess the economy hasn’t changed that much. Maybe you should find you some those nicotine addicts, hire them them to build a few pieces of furniture for you, and then you’ll have some capital to start your shop on a better foot. So stay focused, leave the honeyco’s alone and stay out of the San Miguel and I’ll send up some prayers for you. Good luck, Mate.

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3377 days

#5 posted 06-08-2009 08:23 PM

I too was in Manilla in the 70’s.. favourite bar was the Pipeline. I really enjoyed the Phillipines.
Good luck to your new venture.
Drop in next time you ride your bike up the Bruce Highway.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

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