Yesterday, I took one last walk through the empty green plywood shack that served as my workshop for the past 15 months. It’s a curious little building. The wiring is a mix of modern Romex and salvaged lamp cords. Lights are placed haphazardly, and only a couple of them show any evidence of use in the last decade. The north side is slowly being consumed by the adjacent sand dune. I though about digging it back and fixing it when I first moved in, but honestly I was a bit concerned that the sand dune was a structural member at this point. Best to let sleeping dogs lie. An unpleasant side effect, though, was a shallow flood in the shop floor during every thunderstorm. I made peace with it by storing my lumber and tools off the floor and opening the doors for ventilation when the sun came out.


There was a workbench of sorts when I took possession of the property. It was about four inches too high, but I remedied that after my first exhausting planing session. The top was 3/4″ plywood, but I braced it with battens screwed in from below. There were no workholding devices, but it was a simple matter to let in a face vise. No hope for a tail vise, though: the right side of the work bench butted up against a wall.

There was no room for my power tools in this diminutive abode. I sold my tablesaw and my drill press to my brother. I loaned my bandsaw to my Dad. I sold my surface planer at a yard sale. Luckily, a lathe doesn’t take up much room – I was able to squeeze it in underneath the shop’s only window.

In spite of all of its shortcomings, this little shop enabled some of my most productive time as a woodworker. A kitchen table, a candlestand, three Windsor chairs, a tavern table, a shavehorse, a side table, and many spoons, bowls, plates, and pieces that I never even bothered to mention were birthed in that shop. All in a brief 10-month bout of inspiration. I became a competent spindle-turner, an efficient hand-planer, and a half-decent drawknifist (I’m just gonna pretend that’s a word) in that shop.

The learned eye would recognize my presence in an instant.

The mortise for the old face vise:


The scars of countless chisel strikes and saws marks:


Not to mention the double-row of dog holes.

Will a learned eye ever set foot in this shop again? I doubt it. But I’m happy to know that I’ve left my mark on this place. Yeah, I know. It’s a humble, dingy place. A shitty setting for Instagram photos. I leave with the hope that a brighter setting awaits my arrival. But I was there, and a part of me with always be there.

Goodbye, Fernandina Beach. Best of luck.

P.S.: WordPress tells me that it’s been 5 months since my last post. I never meant to leave you that long. But a funny thing happens when a hobby begins to feel like an obligation: I lose interest. I doubt I’ll achieve the several-post-per-week production pace of my early days, but I do plan on keeping a little better track of things than I have recently. I suspect the internet is at least as permanent as my old workshop, so I’ll continue to try and leave my mark here as well.



16 thoughts on “Empty

  1. Glad to see your all right, when you quit posting I thought something happened.
    You have a lovely family and will remember that workshop forever


    1. Thanks- I know I stopped blogging pretty abruptly, but when I realized that the blog was becoming more a source of stress than stress relief, I knew it was time to back away for a while.


  2. Thanks for completing the picture of your beach woodworking shop. I hope you find a bigger space above sea level with space for a proper work bench and maybe some power tools. All the best!


    1. I’ll be moving to the Athens, Georgia area for a new job. I always hoped I’d end up there – I fell in love with the city during my college years, and I’m very excited to be going back. My wife and I are ready to put down roots and put the nomadic period of our lives behind us, so we’re really excited about the upcoming house-hunt.


  3. Best of Luck to you! Looking forward to future posts… and photos of your dream shop? Will you be at the Greenwood Fest again this year?


    1. Thanks, Ken – and sorry for the glacial response time! I’ve barely sat down in front of a computer for the last month (which was a nice reprieve, to be honest). Unfortunately, I don’t believe I’ll make Greenwood Fest this year, but perhaps once I’m settled into a new locale I’ll be able to make it again in the future!


  4. Hi, just discovered your blog and wanted to say that I really like your writing style. The name of your blog is quite clever too. I see so many shades of myself in what you write from the transition to a small space, to divesting of machinery, to embracing more of a hand tool approach, to the struggle to keep up with a blog that takes a distant second to the woodworking that is your primary interest. As much as I like your writing, I won’t encourage you to blog because I’m understand that making wooden objects brings you far more happiness and only someone selfish would ask you to do something that increases their happiness at the expense of yours. I’m going to look for your other posts, based on my experience, I would encourage you to follow your bliss and if unplugged woodworking is that for you, jump in with both feet and don’t come up for air. I made the transition in early 2012 and have enjoyed real woodworking exponentially more ever since. Good luck to you!!!


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