Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ultimate Dream Shop

I'm pretty happy with my current shop, but while traveling this past summer I stopped by someplace that I think would make the best shop ever. Ever.

Here it is:

It's Lucy, the Margate N.J. elephant. Now before you think I am totally nuts (too late?) let me explain. First, she's made of wood - a lot of wood, almost one million pieces! She's framed like a ship - well, like a ship that stands on four legs and a trunk - but still. Second, she's historic. Build in 1882, she's the premier example of zoomorphic architecture. Third, she's roomy!

She's also full of unique character - check out this door:

It would be like having your shop inside a huge piece of art. (Speaking of which, isn't there something Edward Hopperish about this next photo?)

You could keep an eye on the surf while working at your bench:

She has an open upper deck, built like a howdah on top. Here's a shot back down the rather steep stairs that get you up there:

Once up in the howdah, you could sip cool drinks while waiting for your glue-ups to dry, or it would be the perfect place to cool off after ruining something...

In 1970, this dream shop was almost destroyed to make way for the condos visible here:

Who in their right mind would destroy this elephant to build that? Luckily, calmer, more far-sighted individuals succeeded in moving Lucy to her new location.

Here you can see the window that provides light for the steep, twisting stairs within the back leg:

Of course, those stairs would make getting wood up into the shop difficult, but I've already found a possible solution, although it might still be a pane in the...


Anyway, even if you don't agree with me that Lucy would make the ultimate woodworking shop, you might want to check her out the next time you are down the shore.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Shaker Inspired Medicine Cabinet - The Tool Kit

The Full Tool Kit

This is the tool kit I actually used when building this project.

Left Side:
rip saw, crosscut saw, hack saw

Center (back to front):
#7 jointer plane, #4 smoother plane
#62 low angle jack plane, #5 1/4 jack plane, side bead moulding plane, dropped quarter round moulding plane
#271 router plane, shoulder plane, rabbet plane, #18 block plane
Hand drill, awl, nail set, mallet
square, combination square, 3/4" chisel, bit and brace
file, round file, nippers
marking gauge, marking knife, flush cut saw, hammer, screw drivers
dowel plate, pencil (And yes, Dixon Ticonderoga 1388 #2 HB - one of the vintage, good ones from before they sold out!), hammer, folding rule

While working on this project, I wasn't trying to limit myself tool wise in any way. If there were multiple tool options, I tended to use the one that was either easiest or produced the best results. Of course, there are many, many different paths to the same destination. It would be possible to build this project with much less in the way of tools.

With that in mind, I though I would do something similar to my tool kit post on the Shaker Cupboard project. So, here's my take on the most basic set of tools that would create the same final result (different techniques would be required - such as forming the rabbets with a chisel rather than rabbet plane).

The Minimum Tool Kit

This is the minimum tool kit that could be used to build the project.

Back to Front:
rip saw, cross cut saw, #5 jack plane, #4 smoother plane
flush cut saw, 3/4" chisel, hand drill, block plane, side bead moulding plane, dropped quarter round moulding plane
screw drivers, brace and bit, square, marking gauge, knife
pencil, nail set, hammer, folding rule

I assumed that you would be able to find appropriate hinges and could forgo the tools I used to make my own.

As you can see, you don't need a shop full of tools to make a project. That said, I like having tool options and specialized tools that make some tasks easier, or allow for superior results.

So, will I make a second medicine cabinet using only the smaller tool kit? Well, my son can't reach the Tums anymore, and I have about a billion other projects waiting for my very limited time, so "Nah!"

Not anytime soon anyway...