It is Not The Place; It’s You

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What is left of this old building was my first shop at the house where I grew up. It was nothing great, but it was my favorite place in the world to be as a kid.

I am fortunate to have two more than adequate work spaces. My home shop is one side of a two car garage. Most of the photos you see here or in articles I have written, this is where I am working. The space has good light and is close to the family. Other than the concrete floor and having to share the area with Sadie the Basset Hound who is a bit odoriferous in the summer, it’s great. This is my primary work space.

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The home shop.

I own a automotive body shop and have a small area for woodworking there too, when time permits. In separate part of the same building I have a machine room for processing stock. The shop is climate controlled, in addition to the woodworking stuff there is also welders and metal fab equipment. For the most part, there is space when needed and most any tool or equipment for anything I can dream up to make. One thing the shop is not is a good back drop for photos with wrecked cars in the background.

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My work area at the shop.

Both places are great for what I do. I have made-do in some pretty bad places in the past or to lack of a place to work at all. It makes me appreciative of what I have now. Someday I may build a dedicated woodworking space but I really don’t need any more than I have presently.

Last year I had a photo shoot building a project for a magazine I had not previously worked with. They were sending someone to take the photos of the build instead of me doing it myself. I was a little apprehensive about it. Not because of the project, could build that in my sleep. It was because I don’t have a picturesque shop. I was afraid they would think less of me or think less of me as a woodworker (or maybe Sadie’s stink would be too much!). After some thought on the subject I decided I didn’t matter. If it did, I did not want to be a part of deal anyway. In the end all went well and the shoot was great.

It did get me to thinking, I realized that I am the magic (Not trying to float my own boat here, bear with me). The most beautiful, well equipped, inspiring work space is nothing without the person or persons that occupy it. It is just a structure, empty space, inanimate. The space can make nothing.

Great things can happen in not so great places. Stephen King wrote his first two best selling novels in a laundry room. Albert Einstein had some of his best ideas staring out the window of a patent clerks office. Abe Lincoln spent a lot of years following a mules ass before going on to better things.

It is not the place you work; it’s you. Dream of something and make it, wherever you are. You are the magic.

-Will Myers




9 thoughts on “It is Not The Place; It’s You

  1. Great post, Will. I agree with you to a point. In keeping my humble little shop devoid of electricity, it has become quite the source of inspiration. I feel my shop is a key element in my attitude towards unplugged woodworking.


  2. Will, this is a great reminder of the importance of substance over fashion. Like you, I spilt my work space due to necessity. The Moravian bench I built from your DVD is in a reclaimed basement bedroom that I have turned into my hand tool shop. My one car garage is my machine tool shop where everything except the workbench is on wheels. Works for me, but my wife would probably prefer I didn’t have to lug milled wood through her art studio! Thanks for the post.


  3. …he says, from two shops each of which can fit between four and six of my current shed in them 😀

    I mean, I get the idea, but it has some pretty hard limits. You physically can’t build large pieces in a small shed, I’ve been trying and even before you hit the hard limit you get penalised a lot in time and in results. Now, you can limit what you do to match your available space, but there’s an eventual hard limit to that as well.

    Every “how to outfit a woodworking shed” article misses this. First tool you need to have is *enough space to work in*. Second tool is your workbench. And then you can get on to which chisel is best 😀


  4. Will – I really enjoyed this post and completely agree. The only woodworking that I have done is with hand tools in a tiny space in my basement. It is basically a wide passageway into the garage which is on the lower level. I stuffed a workbench in there with some hand tools. My family is always walking through to get to the cars and checking on my progress.

    For me, woodworking is about putting my mental and physical energy into something and doing the best that I can and being satisfied. I have made many projects for the home in that tiny shop including full size furniture and cabinets. It just goes to show what you can accomplish if you put your effort into something. Having a fancy shop is great, but having the ability to learn and accomplish something is even better.



  5. Will, have been a woodworker/woodturner most of my life having paid my dues with whatever space I could eke out and mother nature controlling the temperature and humidity most of that time, now in my 70th year I’m finally building a dedicated 3 bay climate controlled shop/garage where I hope to fade away with the chips and dust happy and content looking back to how I got here.


  6. Will,
    I loved the article, thank you. I took up woodworking after retiring a couple of years and have found a lot of peace – as in, figuring out ways to not quit and not yell when I make so many silly mistakes. Thus far, I have turned our garden shed (now with electricity) and our sunroom into small workshops. When we settle on where we want to live next, I will be looking for a home with a larger separate building or a big garage. Thanks for your article. Of all I have gained since beginning to work with wood, what I treasure most is a now close relationship with my older brother. All the best!


  7. After 45+ years in my commercial shop of 2000 square feet, as I moved toward retirement I opted to build a smaller studio space at my home. I downsized to approximately 750 feet and it has been an absolute joy on so many levels. Smaller spaces can can lead to bigger thinking. They can also free you from the clutter that can come with the necessity of having to keep more projects going at any time to pay the expenses of maintaining a larger facility. The smaller space affords me the opportunity to do the kind of work that I literally could not afford to do while working on a “grander scale”. Nice article.


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