On Tools and Workshops
The workshop is my refuge where I go to let myself know that I have tangible creative abilities to exercise and explore. The world of making something from raw materials.
I have several workshops or more accurately, work areas. In total, they are my shop. I’ll also refer to is as my studio space. It depends on how artsy I am feeling about what I am creating.
Almost all my joy is in the creative effort and not the finished product. My creative effort is more than a means to the product. It’s not about how many complete widgets I possess but about creating the next one. The term widget does not define a single example or product, as I choose to use widget as an all-inclusive generic description of anything I create.
A workshop without active projects is just a museum collection of non-productive tools. A loss of good work space, tools and machines. I would prefer a working museum
I have seen many pictures of workshops that are a collection of tools rather than a place of creation. I have no qualms about those who are tool collectors. There is a certain attraction collecting quality tools and machines. The hobby is the collection, not necessarily the use of the tool. Collectors have their own satisfaction in their possessions. I too take the time to look at my workshop and tools and feel some of that love. But then the desire to make something using them, puts me back into a practical “get to work” mind set.
I feel uneasy when I look over my tools and realize they are simply setting there doing nothing creative. My love is more than tool possession. My love is knowing how, and then skillfully using the tools for their intended purpose.
Tool lust is a real emotion. I feel it. Most of my tools were acquired because of a certain degree of tool lust. I discover a tool or machine and realize what it can do. I see myself using it for making things faster, easier, better. Many times, for making something I cannot otherwise make without the tool. That is the greatest emotion to overcome.
When I first started acquiring the machine tools for metal work, there was a certain amount of tool lust. I was longing for the tools and machines I never owned or had never used before. I had long lusted for the micro machine tools I saw in model train magazines being used in creating scale steam engines. This was back in my pre-teen and teenage years. Tools like the Unimat metal lathe or precision scroll saws and various other metal working tools, used in the articles. However, a lack of personal wealth was a limitation at that time.
The Unimat is a bit primitive and low powered. That wasn’t apparent to a 13 year old reading a model train magazine. To me it was a coveted machine tool. The fire was started and continued to smolder until I was much older and that ember came back up to a blaze.
It happened when I rediscovered the hobby of real machine tools and the construction of real operating internal combustion and steam powered engines. Wow! People really do that sort of fabrication! I was at a point I could see retirement somewhere up ahead and it was time to fulfill my lust for a well-equipped machine tool workshop while I was still employed. I didn’t again want funding to be a barrier for the proper tools and exercising the natural machine tool skills I knew I could master. I had by then, made those parts a thousand times in my head.
The reality was complete. I did fulfill my long-held desires. I acquired exactly what I need to do the work I had envisioned. The skills came and were mastered very quickly. I was raised in a workshop and tools environment, so I started with everything I needed as far as innate skills.
I also acquired a few quality woodworking machine tools. A high end two horsepower 10 inch table saw and a 14 inch Delta bandsaw are my prime power tools. A portable sawdust collection system is a big asset toward healthy woodworking. I also have a proper woodworkers bench and a good assortment of hand held power and hand woodworking tools. It’s not a complete powered machine woodworking shop, but it lets me do quality wood work with reasonable cutting abilities. If I had the room, I would complete my wood working tool lust with a few more stationary power tools. I am presently satisfied with what I can do with what I have. That is the main point, after all.
One slight problem remains. After retirement, there still isn’t enough time for everything I can dream about doing. Then I realize, the only real problem would be to stop dreaming…