Things have changed

It has been nearly 16 months since my last post to Tom’s Workbench. Since then, a lot has changed in my world.

  • I grew some more gray hair.
  • My oldest son graduated high school and went off to college.
  • I got a new job.
  • Oh, and probably most pertinent to this blog – I am in the final stages of getting divorced.

Yes, that last change is the one that has tossed everything into the air for me. I moved out of my house in January of 2016, and have been living in an apartment since.

I do not hate my ex wife. I do not wish her ill. Many of the problems we had in our relationship were my fault, and I have told her so and take full responsibility for them.

The time has come to move on.

Part of this moving on process involves the shop – or should I now say garage – of the family home. That’s where 18 years worth of tools, memories and learning the craft of woodworking took place. And, now that we have reached an agreement, I have to re-imagine my woodworking and reduce the number of tools in the shop.

One of the greatest inspirations I have had during this process was the work of Vic Tesolin and his book the Minimalist Woodworker. Vic’s observations included the profound realization that no, you don’t need a fully-stocked professional shop to crank out woodworking projects. A more modest collection of fundamental hand and power tools – paired with some easily built shop appliances –  can do the trick just nicely.

So, for the past month, I made a list of the critical tools I would need to take for my new shop setup. I asked myself a basic question – what would it take for me to build a bookshelf or a wooden chest?  With that as my starting point, I wrote down the ideas as quickly as they came to me …

  • My track saw
  • My routers
  • Some clamps
  • My Tormek (to keep tools sharp)
  • Hand saws
  • Chisels
  • Planes

I also threw a few other ideas on that list as well. For instance, while no one would ever call a pocket screw a classic joint, they can prove indispensable for building cabinets.

Armed with this list, I entered the garage to see the old, familiar tools I haven’t touched in more than a year. It could almost be described as a surreal experience. Things were obviously not arranged as I had them, but that’s OK. This space is no longer mine, and it is my responsibility to get it turned over to its rightful owner.

Working with a few friends, I boxed and labeled what I wanted to take, and loaded those items into my buddy’s van. Those are going to my new workshop.

The other items that pain me to part with .. the table saw, band saw, dust collector, drill press..  well, I worked with the St. Petersburg Woodcrafters’ Guild. They agreed to buy those tools for pennies on the dollar and resell them, with the benefits going back to fund the guild. While it killed me to lose them, I knew they were going to good use, I wasn’t going to be paying through the nose for storage until a new, more permanent shop situation opened for me and I when I do replace those tools, I could get the latest and greatest safety features on them.

By the end of the day, I was sore, but the shop was ready for the movers to come in and unload the tools. I closed the garage door for the last time as the shop, walked to my car and drove home with the essential tools in tow …

Facing a future that was wildly different than the one I used to know.

18 thoughts on “Things have changed”

  1. Wow, Tom, sorry to hear the news, but glad you are moving forward.

    Good luck with the new place! Hope to hear more from you soon.

    Does this signal the end of the Timpano tradition as well?!

  2. Tales a big man to admit his faults Tom. My thoughts are with you and wish you peace of mind and good fortune in moving forward.

  3. Good luck, Tom. Closing doors, and opening windows, and all that…. wishing you the best, really.

  4. So glad to see you back, old friend. Can’t wait to see some projects come out of that new shop.

  5. So sorry your life has been turned upside down. I hope you remembered to grab Iggy. Give me a shout the next time you are in MD, and I will let you come over and use some big tools again.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your troubles but very happy to hear from you. I have missed your posts. Take care and take one step at a time. Go easy. Divorce is hard.

  7. Wow! Heavy post Tom but from the bottom of a hole the only way to go is up! All the best my friend.

  8. Been there and done that 3 or 4 times in my life… not proud of it but you deserve to be happy too …. no matter what that means. I regret a lot of things I did too but you have to move on and get reinspired. Life is only what you make of it. Hope to hear from you more in the future and know that I am extremely sorry for this chapter in your life and wish you much happiness in the future Tom & Iggy !

  9. I’m 87 years old and my kids encouraged me to sell my big 2500 sq. ft, workshop which I agreed to and now it s gone. But I have a lot of cash which I have used a bit for a Harbor Freight five year estimated life expectancy, which should be long enough for me. I don’t have any five horse power tools to make large furniture pieces but I can still do small product woodworking, carving , stained glass/woodworking projects., lathe work etc. Now it takes imagination and hand tools to get things done. Love it!

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