New Shop Setup

I've spent the last several weeks setting up a new home shop, which has involved things like hanging drywall, setting up wood storage areas, and running new 220 electrical lines for the machines. It has also involved a fair amount of thinking about workspace arrangement, optimal flow and storage, and, to some extent, the aesthetics of the space. I wanted to have a space that was inviting, inspiring, and easy to clean and maintain.

The truth is I've never been good and keeping up a shop environment--my shops have often been messy, disorganized, and somewhat difficult to navigate. My shop time has always been secondary to other commitments (my family, my full-time+ job, keeping fit, etc.), and organizing and cleaning has never seemed like the most pressing way to use woodworking time. And frankly, I've always been a little impatient. I have a tendency to subordinate "lesser" tasks to ones I perceive to be more urgent or desirable, and often want to move quickly to the next thing.

This summer I have started to take seriously some things that I already knew but haven't privileged in my creative process. First, that there is value in slowness and patience. Second, that keeping up and attending to the details of a space itself is a meditative practice--a discipline of custodial love. And third, that having and executing a plan is usually better than freewheeling it. Rumi said it this way: "Patience with small details makes perfect a large work, like the universe. What nine months of attention does for an embryo forty early mornings will do for your gradually growing wholeness."

I've been spending early mornings in the shop now--drawing, tidying up, and simply enjoying the birdsong while the sunlight streams across the hillside lighting up the floating strands of web and insects drifting in the imperceptible currents. When I no longer run the risk of waking or irritating the neighbors, I start making some noise. And then I clean up after myself.

Samuel Thomas