Basement woodworkers typically don’t have one of these. People who work in dedicated shops tend to have those structures behind their homes, separate from the goings-on of the neighborhood. I’m not even going to get into the folks who have their shops in attics, unused bedrooms or other tucked-out-of-the-way places.
No, we garage woodworkers have a chance to look out upon the world and see it pass by right from the comfort of our own benches. My shop’s front door is a two-wide segmented garage door that I can open up to get a full-blown 8 foot by 17 foot vista on the neighborhood. After the chilly winter weather but before the oppressive heat and humidity kick in, I get to enjoy beach weather while playing in the sand-paper box.
The advantages of working with such a huge opening are pretty obvious. Insanely easy access to bring materials in and finished projects out. I can move all of the tools and the bench out of the shop to give the entire place a thorough cleaning. There are no issues with fumes from finishes. Tons of natural raking light – making sanding and planing so much easier.
I can also attract a crowd when I’m in the middle of a project. I’ve had neighbors see me struggle to move thing on to or off of the bench, and they’ve stepped in to lend a hand. I’ve had neighbors come in to oooh and ahhh over the latest project on the bench. I’ve seen little kids being pulled in wagons by their parents become much larger bike-riding kids who still say ‘Hi, Mr. Tom,” as they ride past. One of my neighbors is a retired World War II era veteran, and he’s offered his services sanding projects for me. Good thing he takes his payments in the form of a beer and some good conversation. He’s so good, I could never afford his services!
Of course, with all of these advantages, having a garage shop has its problems as well. I’m reluctant to place tools near the garage door, so I lose a wall’s worth of space. My wife keeps asking just how much saw dust will blow onto the cars while they are parked in the driveway.
And, some of the passers-by tend to want to talk politics, personal relationships or want to know if I’m interested in buying some leftover steaks from an order they recently completed. I’ve also had my fill of people selling vacuum cleaners, magazine subscriptions or tree trimming service. And, when it’s election season, I just prefer to keep the garage door closed rather than deal with the folks swinging by to talk about the candidate they are stumping for.
With us getting ready to spring forward this weekend, I’m definitely looking forward to slipping out to the shop after dinner to enjoy a little more daylight.