Monday, June 17, 2013

Shopping For A New Shop

I once heard it said that it is not always wise to tear down to build bigger. Back in my youth my grandmothers Bible stories included the epic of the man who felt he needed bigger barns to store more of his crops, only to be told that his time was up and that he needn't build anything at this point. Hmm! So I have plans to tear down an old shed that served my parents, and who knows how many others, well for many years. The problem is that there is a hill in back of the shed on an adjoining property, from which flows water runoff and to a certain extent mud. That is just normal stuff, but down through the years the back wall facing the neighbours has had to be rebuilt several times and the picture of scabs of new wood now rotted once again haunt my sense of repair or rebuild ambition.

Here is the skinny on that battle of guilt for tearing down vs. good planning and preservation of resources by building new. For years now I have been gathering up both old and new machinery to have a woodworking shop in retirement.  So, I have a few items. There is a great band saw, a scroll saw, a bench-top drill press, my shop table saw, a job site table saw, a 13” planer, dedicated router table… well, you get the picture and I am barely skirting the surface. It has taken a couple of decades, some wonderful people who saw that I could make, carve and build stuff, and a loving wife, all of whom made it possible for me to have the many and varied woodworking tools that I have now. 

Well, when we moved home I stored much of the machinery in our shed, at back of our home. But with its deteriorating condition, the weather, a leaky roof and all started a race to stop the rust on the cast iron tables of my shop saw, and the 6 inch jointer. Then Karen discovered that it was attacking my lathe. She wanted everything saved… well… so did I. So we had a difficult decision to make. Renovate or rebuild. A quick tour and check of existing beams told us that there was rot everywhere. Ouch! Retirement is great but for the unknowns… right? Well, bit by bit decisions were discussed and I then realized that the only way forward was forward! Step by step the process of planning, getting quotes and well, facing the harsh reality of the cost was shocking. But, what does one do? Well, if it were just up to me, I would just go back to bed! LOL But such is not the case here. Karen, my cheerleader and holder of the cattle prod, gently reminds me that if we build it, it will be home to all that “stuff” at some point.

Truth is that Karen is looking forward to having everything in place so that the fun will begin. She is not always so sure of my dreamy projects, but sometimes I do hit on one or two that seem to make sense to her. With 6 grandchildren, and likely at least one more at some point, there will be lots of projects to be undertaken until they are well into their 30’s I figure. Hey, that correlates with my plan to live another 30 years. Some guys I know have worked in their shops until their 90’s! I can do this! Now that is good planning! But, then it will also be construction central for those have to do projects when outside requests for renovations and custom builds enter the picture. I could use my workshop now for a just such a request… that shop table saw would be mighty handy just now. Oh well, that is why I have a job-site saw. Oh my there is a story behind that saw!  I will tell you all about it one day.

Work/funeral hiatus… and now back. I get a lot of calls to conduct funerals for old friends and family. I cannot decline… I am here to help!

Well it has been a couple of busy weeks. But things have progressed here at the demolition site. I started with the roof and have FINALLY made it to the hole in the ground that I need to begin the rebuild, or as I recently told someone; “out of the ashes rises a new woodworking shop!” That may be hard to follow, but for those of you who may follow my photo diary on Facebook, there is a fire component to the tear-down process. Karen, my sidekick and supervisor, loves to burn the small bits and pieces that come with demolition. On the many other projects that we have undertaken down through the years, (and there are many) she has loved to have campfires and burn off the leftovers rather than just find a place for them all to go. In this case there would have not been enough room in the dumpster, which held all the rotten pieces of boards and beams along with roofing and such.

We have been building, rebuilding and renovating, it seems like, constantly for the past 15 years. The question often arises whether I will ever see the end. Nah! I guess not! Anyhow, if you love the work why stop… Right? But life is much like that, it seems. We are never quite satisfied are we? We like to tweak what seems to be OK or sufficient to make do… yet not quite perfect. Or our minds change like the seasons and we just want to try something different. Years back, I was warned by a wise old sage friend of mine to not undertake too much, as there will always be the maintenance of what we have to keep us busy. But who can resist making life better? After all there is that urge to make it all fit in, until one day we realize it is all too big now for us to handle. But on the other hand the needs of the time were met and we did enjoy the product as well as the process.

So what about those barns I mentioned that were too late in the Biblical story? Well, I want to be productive and content, and I think I have been given the resources (machinery and a wee bit of talent) to make good use of this project. So, out of the ashes… a new shop! Curious enough though, I do regret that I couldn't just repair what was there… I am the consummate restoration guy… let’s make it better, not necessarily destroy to rebuild, unless totally necessary. I guess God works that way too. Lots of things about us may show a bit of rot, that sin that can eat away at the roots of our foundations from time to time, but He keeps working on us rather than just starting fresh with a new model.

I’d like to think that most of those who read my ranting would agree with me. If you don’t, that is quite all right. I allow for love to be large enough to embrace the joy of life and then I pray for your peace. I find that as I gaze out to sea I know how much larger life is, than just that which we see around from day to day. I know that the universe is greater than my understanding, and now at this juncture of life, I am building on the knowledge that if God grants me a tomorrow, I want to be of some use whether writing, building or praying… I am going to stand on the edge… and note the view from here for a while yet!