Getting my shop in shape!

A shop, if loved, is always in need of care.

If ever you are in the area of our home, give me a call. I’ll have you stop by for a cup of coffee and a tour of my shop. Please call ahead because  my shop it’s pretty noisy and and I wear ear protection. That being the case,  I don’t always hear the phone ring right away.

A clean shop aids in production.

Marketing manager (aka my wife)

The other day as I was getting my shopvac set up I was approached by my wife. In the middle of my cleaning she  appeared with a request to make some gift pens for a fellow teacher.

I agreed. Then, hardly had that request been made,  an incoming phone call reminded I have a standing order to fill.  Additionally, I had some family gifts to prepare, some trees to be finished, and tops to ship as soon as possible.

It would appear that I will have to get the cleaning done another time!

Shop cleanliness and organization go hand and hand.

I am a visual person. To stay organized I make list that are written down. I draw pictures, add comments to my iPad, and use a lot of “post it” notes.  A “dirty” shop makes me nervous. So it is that on a regular basis I will take out a graph paper pad and make a numbered list of things that I want to accomplish. Once the list is made I take a few minutes to prioritize it. One of the things that is frequently on my list is cleaning my shop. I try to have a clean work place before I begin another project.   I never really seem to get there! Anyone know what I mean? You can only imagine how unrealistic that is when most turning projects make sawdust!  There are always interruptions, more than a few projects to comple, and the list goes on.  But I keep trying.

Enter shop stage right the whiteboard and dry erase marker.

Mentioned this in an earlier blog, but I didn’t go into many details to bring the subject to an end. Let me take you down to my shop and show you what I mean. Here’s what I ended up with to help with my problems of production and shop cleanliness.

I have used whiteboards as teaching tools for a long time. They are sometimes preferred to Power Point Presentations, and I find that many of my students looked forward to expressing their ideas before a class by using a whiteboard. Some find it easier to jot down a thought or draw a sketch on a whiteboard than render it electronically. It can take less time, and may serve as a visual trigger. The notes often give me a nudge to revisit or develop what I had thought. It is also a task tracker for me when I have several goals to fulfil.

Where to start shopping for my shop

laying aside my pen order, I undertook the search and find activities of having a whiteboard in my shop. The first thing I did was to jot down on a piece of paper the wants and needs I thought might fill the bill. I determined that it shouldn’t be too large and and I wanted it to be able to be posted where I could see it.  Other specifications were:  easily cleaned, portable, and durable.

Three types of “board” available for shop use.

My research revealed that there were basically 3 types available: melamine, metal based smooth surfaced, and glass backed. The next step was to decide between shopping online or going to my local office supply store.  In the order mentioned, the prices ranged from $50 – $150. Ouch! I simply didn’t want to be spending shop cash at that rate. So what to do?

“Shopping” at home instead of shopping in the market place.

I needed to be reason through what the actual cost versus the potential benefit to running my little woodturning business that I call NEEDLES OF THE NORTH™. It’s one thing to turn an occasional object and quite another to be able to supply retail outlets. Larger orders require production plans.  And there are marketing, book keeping, remaining organized, having a safe and clean workplace to retain a grip on time management.

“Let’s make our own ‘shop’ board!”

To cover all the bases for such a simple, but useful item, I decided to make my own! I could save money, time, and mileage by making  one  from stuff I without spending for a ready made one.

I had a pieces of window glass, some flat white spray paint, and suitable wood for the frame.  the tools I have to cut, glue, mount and finish the project on hand. Here’s my proto type!

  This, however, doesn’t seem to fill the bill! Its simply too small! Glass is perfect for cleaning. It doesn’t develope any shadowing, but its way to heavy when the size increases.

So instead of spending any more time on this project I got myself over to the supply store and taking advantage of the pre-Christmas sales that abound, was able to get a metal backed whiteboard (pictured above) for less than $20, It serves my pupose and has allowed for the visual planning that I wanted.

Shop Project complete, so is snowman!

While putzing with the whiteboard issue another request came through from management. Could I possibly add a Snowman Box to my list? Please! Who can say no to the hand that feeds you? Here’s the results, without mittens and skarf…management will make them.

Its on to getting that shopvac set up! Until next time…stay sharp and God Bless.  Merry Christmas!


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