Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Fall Project

Stare at the next two pictures for a few minutes.  They're not optical illusions that will suddenly pop into focus, I just want to drive home what a disorganized mess and underutilized space my garage has been for the last four years.

Little more than a concrete block and stud-wall dumpster.  A pretty oppressive space in which very little could be accomplished safely.

Now that I'm living alone, and always on the lookout for projects to occupy the hours, I decided to finally take on the garage and make a functional shop out of it.  I have all the tools I need to not only do the project but also to establish a great hobby woodworking setup.

The first step was to start organizing things into four categories:  1. Stuff to give away 2. Stuff to recycle  3. Stuff to keep  4. Stuff to throw away.

Then I started building storage shelves, first by dismantling the very impractical ones above and reconfiguring the materials into floor-to-ceiling shelves (below).

In a textbook example of working bass-akwards, at that point I decided to wall-in those shelves into a large tool closet.  One of the things that made the original space so unsightly was the visual clutter, a tool room would go a long way to alleviating that problem.

As the tool closet, pictured below, was taking shape I decided that rather than simply clean the place up and turn it into a woodshop I'd also create a fun environment to spend time in.

 That's when the place became Victory Wood Working my very own defense plant circa 1942.

So, here's a nice "before" shot...

Two weeks ago the door opened to this, the "after" shot:

The studs were covered with hardboard and painted, wiring was modified, wainscoating installed and moulding milled out on my table saw.  I think I brought the project in for less than $300.00, using mostly scrap lumber and paint I had on hand, and my own elbow-grease (who else's?)

I also made wall-mounted tool chests for each of the major bench tools to contain the various bits, belts, fences, etc. peculiar to each machine.

There's plenty of reproduction posters from the era exhorting my workers to buy bonds as well as to work safely.

The place even has a functioning time-clock.

There's calendars, magazines, tool manuals, and even Sawmill Worker's union buttons, all from 1942.

To see a short Youtube on the whole process including "before" and "after", click here.

Sometimes, staying busy's the best medicine, especially when the result turns out to be so satisfying.

Well, break's over, and its back to work for me.

Getting back to...

 enjoying life,

just north of Boonsboro.




Jim Buchanan said...

Congratulations on the launch of Victory Wood Working! and Happy Holidays !

-- Jim Buchanan

Jeff said...


Your talent never ceases to amaze me. The NPS is lucky to have someone of such ability.

Merry Christmas!


Jared Frederick said...

Good job Mannie! May I come for a tour someday?

Unknown said...

Im not kidding, come spend on week wtih my hubby clearing out his work-shop! Call it a business trip, I'll drag ya over to the Fallen Timbers Battlefield and maybe even out to Perry's Victory Monument in Lake Erie. The place looks great--I love the box for each machine!

And if I don't fb you, have a gentle and wonderful holiday.
Ranger Anna

Anonymous said...

Geez Mannie, you have a workshop the size that rivals those TV boys who just happen to have bigger machines. My carriage barn should look so good. I can see all of your projects and am trying mightily to match your pace. My latest endeavor is transforming the once 70's beauty salon into a more modern living space. It will take all winter, but I am in no hurry. Happy Holidays

Jim T.
in beautiful northwest Orleans County, which has only a trace of snow

Anonymous said...

really cool, Mannie. Somehow I thought that V.W. was in miniature until I saw this post. And what Jeff said about NPS lucky to have you. And take that offer from Ranger Anna and family; Fallen Timbers/Perry's Victory sounds like a great combo. Ranger Noel