Working hard? Or hardly working?

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Forum topic by DonnyBahama posted 07-10-2011 09:04 AM 1547 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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215 posts in 2560 days

07-10-2011 09:04 AM

Over the past few days, I’ve returned to woodworking after a long hiatus. I’m enjoying it immensely – but I’m surprised at how tired I get. The last time I had a shop, I was living in a much milder climate. I’m definitely not yet acclimated to working in 100+ degree heat, so maybe that’s it. I’m also heavier and not in as good of shape as I was when I last had a shop. And of course, I’m several years older now. (EEK! Am I just getting old?!)

I’d love to hear from you about how strenuous and/or fatiguing you find woodworking to be. Please include any pertinent details (like age (range), climate and physical condition) if you think they might be relevant.


-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

21 replies so far

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3079 days

#1 posted 07-10-2011 10:27 AM


Are you trying to start a kvetching session? You get off on old fART’S COMplaining all the time? Yes, we are getting older but consider Benjamin Franklin who said,”For those of you who abhor the thought of growing older, consider the ALTERNATIVE.” I personaly am slowing down. Minor re-arrangeing in my shop steps out to infinity and the next project just seems as if it will take forever, but I just finished one, and will soon kick off another. The creative juices still flow, just more slowly. I’m trying to keep the interest of my 4 1/2 year old grandson and teach him—- among other things patience. I have only to pick the project and get started, but no, I need a new work bench. Then there’s that new drill press stand and table, the new router fence, etc. Storage and organization is, as always a deep concern. But I suspect in a month, if my health holds out, these things will be resolved and I shall be back on the road to productivity. What ever the pace, the journey is a damned site better than a trip to VALUE CITY COCKROACH POOP FURNITURE FROM CHINA. tHE JOURNEY IS ALLWAYS WORTH IT. Now, how are you doing?


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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215 posts in 2560 days

#2 posted 07-10-2011 04:01 PM

No, Steve, not trying to start a kvetching session, here. I’m just genuinely surprised at l how relatively few hours I can put into a project before I’m ready to call it quits for the day, and how sore I am the next morning. It didn’t used to be like this so I’m trying to figure out if it’s the heat, the taters & beer, or if I’m just getting old!

I love that quote and use it all the time. (I’d never heard it attributed to Ben Franklin, though. I first came across it in one of Jimmy Carter’s books.) I’m not generally one to complain about getting older, but the effects of woodworking (in 100+ degree weather) on my beer-belly-toting, 49 year-old body really took me by surprise. I suppose it’s kind of like how you always remember someone the way they were when you last saw them. Then, when you see them for the first time in twenty years, you’re surprised at how different they look.

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

View DonnyBahama's profile


215 posts in 2560 days

#3 posted 07-10-2011 04:05 PM

Come to think of it, there’s another thing that’s different… The last time I had a shop, I didn’t need reading glasses to see the marks on the rule of my combination square.

I bet it’s those dang reading glasses that are wearing me out…

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2718 days

#4 posted 07-10-2011 04:27 PM

Im 62, have numerous health issues, BUT cowboys are tough! Cut/split firewood for the last 15 days with ave temps over 100 and humidity between 67 and 80%. Sometimes you have to put on your big boy pants and MAN UP! LOL

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10547 posts in 3457 days

#5 posted 07-10-2011 05:16 PM

Hey Donny,
Did yesterday’s rains cool you a bit?
I’m 70 and have started to limit my woodworking to small boxes and gun cases.
No more full kitchens, 8’ bookcases or massive decks.
I spend about 6 hours a day, every day, in the shop….except when the wife has me helping with weeds.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View DonnyBahama's profile


215 posts in 2560 days

#6 posted 07-10-2011 05:25 PM

I’ll admit that cowboys are probably tougher than computer geeks! But the big boy pants ARE on, and I’ll be back in the saddle at 10 AM today. I have to ask, though… with temps over 100, what the heck do you need firewood for?! LOL

Gene, yesterday’s rains got my wood wet before I realized it was blowing in! I had to close the garage door which made things worse (muggy). Everything dried out fine, though. No stains or damage.
P.S. I’m new to AZ… where’s Snowflake? (Funny name for an AZ town!)

And now for some coffee and ibuprofen – - breakfast of champions.

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10547 posts in 3457 days

#7 posted 07-10-2011 06:05 PM

Glad you saved the wood. The rains come up fast during the monsoon season. Makes for some fantastic light shows at night, though.
We got about 1/2” over 3 hours, last night. Sure was welcome.
Snowflake is about 5 hours north of you. 25 mi south of route 40 and about 35 miles west of the NM line.
We get down your way often. Our son lives in Tucson.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3103 days

#8 posted 07-10-2011 07:42 PM

I’m 60 and I am probably average in terms of health and weight relative to other people my age. I definitely do not have the strength or stamina I had a few years ago, but I have something almost as valuable – time.

I’m retired and on most (but not all) projects I have luxury of being able to do them at my pace, which is slow. I allow myself to take lots of breaks. My breaks are not just for resting. They are also for thinking. I seldom use a plan (other than what is in my head) and I often refine the design as I’m making something. My break times are good times to think about what I am doing and try to decide if there is a better way. I enjoy the process very much.

On occasion I get caught in a situation where I have a tight deadline to meet and I have to work faster with fewer breaks. That’s when I get tired and that is also when I am more likely to get hurt.

Recently, I spent almost 2 hours working on 4 sliding dovetails. It was more important to me to get them right as opposed to getting them done. When I was done I felt I had virtually perfect sliding dovetails. I was under no time pressure and that is how I like to work.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View DonnyBahama's profile


215 posts in 2560 days

#9 posted 07-11-2011 08:46 AM

Gene, I’m about 20 minutes south of Tucson. If you ever have some time to kill while visiting Tucson, shoot me a message and head south for a visit.

Rich Greer- thanks for the input. I’m amazed that you can work that way. (Did you use that method on your cradle project?) I have to plan everything out to the most minute detail, tack measured drawings and cutting diagrams on the wall, etc. One day, I’ll have to try it your way… maybe on a bird house! ;)

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

View CrossGrain's profile


7 posts in 2542 days

#10 posted 07-11-2011 01:53 PM

I’ll be 60 this year. The two main things I have noticed are that I have built my bench and saw horses to a meter high(3.3’) and need stronger glasses.

-- ...Making big bits of wood smaller....

View helluvawreck's profile


31417 posts in 2895 days

#11 posted 07-11-2011 02:16 PM

I’ve got a couple of bad knees a bad back and a bummed up left elbow. Fortunately I don’t have to work as hard as I used to in our manufacturing business but I still have to work around 50 hours per week. I’m usually too tired when I get home on the week days to work in my shop but I almost never miss a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday working in my shop. I can’t be as productive as I once was but working in the shop for me is undoubtedly therapeutic and I believe that it will probably add years to my life. All in all I think that it balances out. When we are 60 and even in good health I don’t think that we will ever be as productive as we were when we were in our prime.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View TheDane's profile


5448 posts in 3691 days

#12 posted 07-11-2011 05:15 PM

DonnyBahama—You must be somewhere around Green Valley … we lived in Tucson for 5 years (back in the 80’s). I’d like to move back there when we retire, but SWMBO insists on living near grand-kids. I say buy them a plane ticket once in a while, but I keep losing that argument.

I’m 64, and stamina just isn’t what it used to be. The thing I have the hardest time with is the concrete floor in the shop/garage … I use fatigue mats in front of the bench, but they don’t do much good around the mobile bases (everything in my shop is on wheels).


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View DonnyBahama's profile


215 posts in 2560 days

#13 posted 07-12-2011 05:17 PM

I’m in Sahuarita, Gerry. It’s a nice little planned community (that didn’t exist back in the 80s) just north of Green Valley. There are a couple of wonderful little 55+ communities that your wife would probably love. Thanks for the tip on the fatigue mats. Great idea.

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

View smboudreaux's profile


51 posts in 2596 days

#14 posted 07-12-2011 09:32 PM

i just turned 30 and i live in south Louisiana. this summer in particular has been pretty brutal as far as hi temps and humidity goes. i just open up the windows and doors and go at it. sweatin is just part of being in the shop. its must easier to get started while its cool and acclimate to the heat as the day goes on. this past weekend i spent about 6 hour Friday, 12 hours Saturday and another 6 on Sunday fighting sheets of 3/4 oak ply. To my surprise i was a bit sore Monday morning

View acducey's profile


65 posts in 2533 days

#15 posted 07-19-2011 01:34 AM

I’m only 72 (at last count), and have only been doing a little woodworking in my spare time since we retired, (and the digital age made it possible to do away with the photography darkroom that took up my time), so I don’t have a lot of woodworking experience to compare to my younger years. I do notice that I am not as spry as I used to be, and the canoe is harder to lift over my head every trip out, but I don’t WORK at the woodworking; I enjoy it, and stay at it only as long as it seems safe to continue without major boo-boo’s (the minor ones can be corrected).
The woodwork consists primarily of a few household and shop projects and some stools for new grand children, and most recently, after being inspired by the hand-cut dove-tail making of Frank Klausz, I bought some poplar at the local Home Despot and tried making a version of his dovetailed step stool which turned out better than expected for an experiment. I don’t really worry much about getting older, only about staying as active as I can, and enjoying whatever I am engaged in doing.

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