Shop Improvements

It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order—and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.
— Douglas Hofstadter

I’ve been thinking a lot about shops lately.  I’ve often heard that the shop itself is our most important tool.  If that’s the case, then shouldn’t we put as much (or more) effort into maintaining and improving our shops as we do our other tools?  If a chisel gets dull, I don’t just pick up a bigger mallet to whack it with.  Well, ok, sometimes I do, but most of the time I head over to my sharpening station to touch it up.  That small amount of maintenance makes the chisel perform better and improves the quality of my work.  My shop, as a tool, shouldn’t be treated any differently.

When I started down this path a month ago, I didn’t intend to launch myself into a full blown shop improvement vision quest. I had a problem to solve:  my lighting was poor due to some of the cheap ballasts burning out in my fluorescent lights.  So, I bought some higher quality ballasts and rewired the offending light fixtures.  When I was done, the improvement was remarkable.  It’s amazing what you can get used to when it comes on gradually (also known as the “frog in the boiling water” syndrome).  This one repair to my shop illuminated (see what I did there?) a whole host of other problems that I’ve been tolerating for way too long.  So, prepare yourselves, my friends, for the upcoming parade of posts about shop repairs and improvements.  I’m on a roll right now, so I’ve got to strike while the iron is hot, as they say.  Once I get distracted by a new furniture build, I’m sure I’ll drop whatever shop improvement I’m working on and then who knows when I’ll get back to it.