Thursday, November 7, 2013

State of the shop

After spending the past two months moving and getting settled in, it feels weird to be productive. I'd gotten used to the ongoing futzing, fine tuning, moving things around, and being 'productive' in a not really productive way.

Clock cases are being built, and I just milled a pile of reclaimed wood for a dining table that's on an accelerated schedule. I'm wrapping up a repair on an antique chest of drawers that had suffered from both insect damage and a really shoddy repair,: The veneer had been pulled back, the rotted leg filled in with plaster, and re-veneered. I'd never heard of such a thing being done, though I'm sure it's more common than I'd like to think about. I have one more coat of varnish to wipe onto a table that's been almost done for way too long. And I have a couple of chairs that need to be re-caned... And none of that involves packing, unpacking, wiring, assembling... Though I do still have to get the table saw and cyclone fully wired up, and ductwork put together.

I haven't yet been ready to tackle the mission statement for the new space. Lawrence was a place of learning in many ways, but it never had a 'governing' anything. My relationship with the space, my business, and myself, shifted and evolved a lot over 5 years. And my commitment to woodworking shifted in a few different directions while I got my bearings. Likewise with regard to running it as a business, and reorganizing shop and mind to work more efficiently. But this new space just feels different. It feels like go-time.

I'm starting to accept the fact that hand tools are going to take a back seat in some ways, which is pretty normal for most professional shops. But I'm trying to keep them in the mix in an active way. And that's part of why I'm balking at the mission statement: I want to maintain a tactile, physical connection to the tools and the wood. But I also have to run the business in a way that makes sense. Put another way, the hand tools need to justify themselves, and that's a hard thing for me to look at head-on. I think the real issue is that I have a tendency sometimes to use them for the joy of using them, when I know that I should be doing something a different way to save time. I have some solid ideas on how I think I can maintain a balance that keeps me happy, but I need to take a hard look in the mirror first, and lay a few things down.

And that's been the theme lately. I've been unpacking just about every part of my shop, my business, and my relationship to both, and figuring out what I'm going to keep, and how to incorporate what's left. It's been really hard. But it's also something I knew would happen, and it's one of the reasons I ultimately chose to move into such a smaller space: growth only happens against resistance. And I need to continue to grow. That doesn't make it any easier to go through, but I'm grateful for the opportunities I have right now to do just that.


Robert said...

Mission statement suggestion: Vim stupri bruta inscitia

JW said...

That's perfectly functional as a personal motto, and is clearly worthy of inclusion in a coat of arms, or a company logo. But it certainly won't help me make some of the decisions I need to make for the shop, outside of 'Why yes, I do need a bigger hammer...'

JW said...

...Not to mention the fact that the BFFI mentality wouldn't enshrine such a personal motto in Latin to begin with.