Empty

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:

workbench2

The scars of countless chisel strikes and saws marks:

workbenchscars

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.

 

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14 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

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  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!

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    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.

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  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?

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    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!

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