My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #603: Heading for the (Big) Shop

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 02-04-2012 02:32 PM 7311 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 602: Happy Feet Part 603 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 604: A Busy Day Ahead »

Today will be a fun day. We are going to our friend Bernie’s shop to dress some wood and bring it back here. It was Bernie’s birthday earlier this week and we are also going to have a celebration dinner there, as it isn’t only his birthday, but also his daughter’s, too. This is an annual event that we have and we are looking forward to not only a wonderful dinner, but a good day in the shop, too.

For those of you who aren’t aware, my partner Keith and I live in a one bedroom place. It isn’t big and we have no basement or anything like that, yet we are able to do most of our day to day woodworking without much mess or problem.

Our scroll saw and drill press are in the corner of the kitchen, and we keep his lathe in one of the three closets that line our hallway, along with a 6hp shop vac. With this set up, we accomplish quite a lot and although many don’t believe it, we keep things quite neat and tidy and aren’t living in a mess.

By the time the wood arrives here (which is stored in various places in the closets and our bedroom) it is planed and dressed and usually only needs a light sanding. For that we use a 1/3 sheet Makita orbital sander which when attached to the shop vac, leaves virtually no dust. If we need to route pieces, we do so on our front deck, using a smaller laminate trimmer which is easier for me to handle. We did make a little stand for it which is much like a router table and that works fine, since we generally do small projects that are easy to handle. While it may not be the perfect setup, it works well for us.

I really need to take some updated shop pictures and also update things on my profile. Our shop area has changed and evolved quite a bit since I posted that and even though we gained the lathe and vac and many other tools, it still works well in our small place and most of the time everything is tucked neatly away and if you didn’t see the scrollsaw sitting in the kitchen, you wouldn’t know we do woodworking.

Here is a snapshot of how things look this morning:

The lathe fits neatly into the closet simply by sliding it. We put those felt strips on the underside of the small cabinet that Keith built and it glides along the floor with little effort (and leaves no marks!) The shop vac fits right underneath it in the closet and when we close the door, everything is concealed. It is pretty sweet.

But in order to plane and dress our raw lumber (we buy it in full pieces) we are required to visit Bernie’s shop. Bernie lives in Digby, which is about 40 minutes up the coast from us. I met him when I lived there and he is retired and has a full shop that he offers to us when we need it. We store all our larger boards at Bernie’s shop and a couple of times a year we spend the day planing and running the pieces through the sander. Since most of what we use is under an inch thick and small pieces, we are able to store quite a supply of thin, dressed wood here for easy access. The trick is for us to think ahead and have enough wood at hand so we can pull on our supply whenever we are inspired. We stock several species and thicknesses of wood and usually we have pretty much what we need at all times. While it may not be a perfect setup, it works for us and has kept us going for a couple of years now. If we have a ‘wood emergency’ we know that we can also call and usually get over there in a day or two and get what we want.

Today we are going to be working on some maple, as our supply of maple is getting low. We use it a lot for ornaments and other pieces and it is probably one of my favorite go to woods. It will be a good day, combining some visiting with accomplishing something, and I am sure it will feel good to be working in a ‘real shop’ again for the afternoon. I miss going to Bernie’s. When I lived in Digby (before I met Keith) I used to spend quite a lot of time there. While I didn’t scroll saw there, I did a lot of shaping and sanding and other main construction work over there. Bernie always starts the stove around 6:30 am and I could get over there as early as 7am and have a nice, warm place to work. I enjoyed the company, and he did too and I learned a great deal from him about general woodworking just by watching him work on his own projects. He has been a woodworker all his life, and had built several houses and hundreds of pieces of furniture and anything you could imagine. He has the wonderful combination of helping without imposing on you. He was there to make suggestions or show you the way to do something, then he would walk away and allow you to learn on your own. If you needed help, he would gladly give it, but he believed that the best teacher was experience and would allow you to learn and make mistakes on your own without interfering unless asked. I think he is a great teacher.

So that’s the plan today. Yesterday I was able to do the presentation pictures of the little boots. I used the light box Keith made that he uses for his pens and the pictures came out beautiful without much muss and fuss in Photoshop. The colors of the printed pictures are dead on to the colors of the actual pieces, which is extremely important when making the painting patterns. I was very pleased.

We ended the day by going to Keith’s parents’ house for dinner. Keith’s mom loves lobster (as I do) and she was looking for a buddy for a lobster dinner. Keith and his dad don’t eat lobster, so they had bar-b-qued chicken wings and us girls had the lobster. It was a nice night and we had a great time.

I hope you all have a good day today. The weather is mild here and from what I hear, it is decent in lots of places. I hope you all get some shop or to have time to do what you like to do best. Enjoy your Saturday.

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

9 comments so far

View michelletwo's profile


2744 posts in 3045 days

#1 posted 02-04-2012 02:47 PM

that’s not a’s too clean! pulling my leg this early in the morning? :-) In the winter my shop is inside the house too, and it’s 6 ft x 10 ft. amazing what one can get done in small spaces!

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#2 posted 02-04-2012 02:51 PM

Yep, Michelle – it is ‘as is’ right now. I only had pictures with the old scroll saw there so I just snapped it this morning. I think I may do a ‘shop update’ tomorrow so my real shop is shown on my profile here. We do keep it neat. When we are done, we just run the vacuum. There is an outlet in the closet and we don’t even have to pull it out. We just attach the hose and do a quick clean up and we are good to go. I can honestly say that it usually is that neat, unless we are ‘in process’. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3370 days

#3 posted 02-04-2012 03:05 PM

dressing my wood

i have enough trouble
getting buddy dressed
then he runs around outside
and trashes his clothes

glad you got some ‘lobster’ time in
it is always nice to celebrate a job well done

got 1” of snow here yesterday
melted by noon
then i saw on the news
it snowed 2’ in denver
it may be headed your way
if it keeps going

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3462 days

#4 posted 02-04-2012 03:13 PM

Now I feel like my shop is too big! Wow… you turn out some beautiful work in such a small space.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2865 days

#5 posted 02-04-2012 03:25 PM

I agree, just too neat and clean! Very nice. Have a great dinner.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4009 days

#6 posted 02-04-2012 03:45 PM

I don’t get it.. how can someone not eat lobster, which happens to be what I had for dinner last night, as well.

Very clean space.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2516 days

#7 posted 02-04-2012 03:49 PM

A neat, clean shop is the sign of a sick mind….. keep it up!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3065 days

#8 posted 02-04-2012 04:35 PM

I’ll never complain about lack of space in my 9’ x 18’ garage, again!

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3114 days

#9 posted 02-04-2012 06:26 PM

I can not believe it!! I am cramped in my half of the garage, and in my big reloading shop in my daylight
basement, both of which are according to my sons and grandsons are disaster areas, the great grandkids still
think they are nice places to play with great grandpa. Today started out about 8 above with no clouds
in the sky and sun hitting the twin peaks of Lolo peak at exactly 8:00 am. Yesterday it was up to 45
degrees and it may get there again today. My beautiful Lady had a birthday on Feb.2 so I was able to
take her to the Outback for steak and lobster. Glad that you and Keith are having a wonderful time,
and thank you for sharing.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

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