“You asked people to share pictures of their four-legged shop helpers. Here are mine: they are always underfoot, but make my shop time even more fun. I always enjoy reading the Woodworker’s Journal eZine and the magazine. Keep up the good job!” – Lori Scott
“I have a Saw Cat. I actually have two. One is a circular saw by Black & Decker called a Saw Cat, and the other is a black and white feline who loves to sit on my table saw while I work. I used to be afraid that I would accidentally cut off his tail but he has learned that when I remove the cover to the saw, it’s time for some very loud noises so he skedaddles out of my shop until the noise goes away. The he waits until I put the cover back on the saw and jumps back onto it.” – Jim Cottingham
“I have two American cockers and a basement shop with plenty of sawdust. The dogs and I have been strongly admonished by management that dogs are not allowed in the shop. Something to do with bringing dust upstairs.” – Stephen Cuyler
“My dog loves hanging out with me. My shop is in the garage (it’s nearly the whole garage, in fact), and usually her cable is hooked to the trailer hitch on my truck (where the safety chain would be connected), which is always backed into the driveway when I’m running the planer. If it’s too noisy for her to be around, I put her in the backyard and she sits just outside the door until I open it back up. In the photo, she’s keeping an eye on the neighbor.” – Andy Ziny
“Yes I have pets in my shop, two very aggressive felines (they fight over treats) and they don’t come and go as they please.”- Orlo Brooks
Some have had had pets who had a particular affinity for a certain tool, and some shop behavior that was helpful or … not. – Editor
“I don’t have a large workshop in the basement of my home in Mansfield, Massachusetts. I’m finally organizing it because I no longer worry about my kids getting their hands on the power tools. There used to be a big pile of assorted ‘stuff’ which really acted as the barrier to keep the kids away. So, recently I was working on organizing things and noticed that one of our cats came down for a visit. I watched as he headed to a small sawdust pile which he used for his second litterbox. He actually walked past his real litterbox to get to this one. Maybe he was paying me back for missing one of his feedings.” – Tom Ziniti
“Misha is a big, black standard poodle who follows me like a puppy even though he’s six now. I love the guy. He taps me for a pet every once in a while, even if I’m busy, and I usually oblige.This takes my mind off any frustration for a valuable moment and I return to the job better for it. Problem is when I’m on my knees or back. He’s always in the way, not knowing why I’m so low, and I get his tongue on my face or his big head blocking my view. But he’s great company because he makes no unasked for suggestions for how a problem should be solved. And when I make mistakes, he’s always there to accept full responsibility. Good dog!” – Anthony Magarello
“I have three dogs in the shop with me: a black Lab, a Lhasa Apso (they look like a dust mop — what he does), and a Chiweenie.They each have their own bed under the workbenches. They are a great source of inspiration. When I get stumped on something, I start talking to them. They look at me like I am an idiot, but it helps me figure things out. And when I get too involved in a project and lose track of time, they will start to pester me that it’s time to go back to the house. When I have to be outside working on other projects or disking the fields, they are out there with me. They are more than; they are my buddies.” – Bill Terle
“For some years, I had hoped for a shop dog. Unfortunately the dog, Snuggles, didn’t like loud noises so was gone as soon as I turned on any power equipment. Then we got Lacie, a purebred boxer, at about six months of age. She loves the shop. My shop is in the basement with no door at the top of the stairs. She loved it so much I had to put a baby gate across the door to keep her out when I was gone to work. I would come home and she would have some of the sanding drums for my inflatable drum sander upstairs. She wouldn’t chew them, just gathered them. Noise isn’t an issue for her, either, which wouldn’t be good if I didn’t watch her. The first time I turned on my table saw, she put her paws up on the side edge to see what was going on, a behavior that was quickly corrected.
“After Snuggles died, we got Walter, a boxer mix, for a playmate for Lacie. He likes the shop as well, mostly because I have a large selection of tennis balls that I will throw for them in the shop, and I keep some treats for them there as well. He loves the air compressor. He can be anywhere in the house and will be down in the shop in a flash when he hears me turn on my little hotdog compressor. I will spray the air and he tries to catch it. I always wait until the compressor is just about empty and am careful not to spray it in his face. Although they get underfoot sometimes waiting for me to through the ball again, it is nice have some companions in the shop.” – Mike Grawvunder
“My shop pet’s name is Holly. She’s always licking the sawdust off the floor when she is down in the shop with me.” – Mike Moldenhauer
One reader shared a story about a different species of furry shop companions. – Editor
“Yep. I had pets in the shop. I could never quite discourage the field mice from staying in the garage. Ofttimes in the evenings, I would see a pair run up the 2x4s to the cap and then run across the cap to the corner and disappear in a hole. At one point, I put mousetraps on the cap figuring that it was their only route, I could be sure to get them.
“The next evening, I heard a SNAP and turned to see the trap flying one way, and the mouse, with its tail spinning like mad, looking like a tiny airplane, flying across the garage to the corner, where it hit the wall, climbed up and disappeared in the hole. They were grandfathered in after that. How could I argue with that kind of luck?” – Riley G.
Some have had shop companions in the past, who now live only in their memories. – Editor
“Years ago, I had a somewhat grumpy but loving German shepherd named Asta. She was my companion and helper, and never liked to be more than three feet from me when I was home. In the shop, she would sniff around on the floor and in the kindling wood scrap bin to find a piece of wood that I had handled. She was picky and rejected scraps that only my husband had handled. When she found the right scrap, she would settle down by my side, happily chewing away while I sanded, planed, chopped dovetails, or whatever. I believe that she thought she was doing the same thing I was doing.
“Even better, though, was when I practiced music (I belonged to a recorder group then). She would find her squeaky ball and sit beside me, squeaking away while I practiced Medieval and Renaissance tunes. Unfortunately, I never got a video. I am sure she is in the big woodshop in the sky now, just waiting for me to come and make some more scraps smell just right for chewing. I also truly hope that she has found some musician angel who needs a virtuoso squeaky ball player.” – Louise Heite
“I’ve been lucky enough to have had two wonderful shop dogs. The first was my sweet little Cairn terrier, Angus. He didn’t become my shop dog until later in his life, and unfortunately he has since passed. But I always enjoyed sharing my space with him. My second shipmate is Tesla; she’s a terrier and sight hound mix. Tesla, isn’t always keen about being my shipmate (she would much rather play ball in the yard), but she’s getting a little better at it, especially during this very cold Maine winter. Here’s a picture of both Angus and Tesla!” – Eve Abreu
“Back in my shop in St Joseph, Missouri, my greyhound Igraine would stay in the shop with me. I was impressed that she would lie down and sleep below my table saw – the noise didn’t bother her a bit. I had to brush off loads of sawdust before I could let her back in the house. I would actually vacuum her with my shop vac. I can’t imagine too many dogs would permit that to happen. She was my best buddy, and I built her a fancy little raised dining table for her food and water bowls.” – Bill Marshall
“I am glad you brought this up! I, too, have ‘friends’ that come and came with me. I am a retired/disabled FF/EMT. I had a Dalmation for about 15 years. I lost him last summer, and it still hurts to think about him being gone as he was a part of my family when I married my wife and since we brought our daughter home from the hospital. He went down to my basement shop with me every day and laid on his bed. He would go down with me as long as he could manage the steps. I do not know if I will ever have another Dal like ‘Piddle.’ He made such an impression on so many. He would go to the schools every year for fire prevention week, fire department meetings and functions, rode on the fire engines in parades.
“These days, ‘Wolfie,’ a rescue mixed Shiba Inu,is my companion. He is unique in his own way, too. I have never seen a dog that has a ‘OCD complex.’ It is quite funny to watch him do circles or how he will not lay down in any area that he is not familiar with or consider his own.” – Kevin Hanes
“I had a black Lab that lived to be 15 years old. She spent all 15 years with me in my garage workshop. She kept me company and, when I would yell some xxx words, that darn dog would bark at me as though she knew what I said. I really miss Lady. Now I have a Boston terrier, five months old. I turn on the dust collector and band saw, she runs for the door to get back in the house. Well, maybe in time as she gets older?” – Ronald Robinson
“Well, our dog typically does not spend time in the shop, but she photo bombed pictures of my last project – two blanket chests.” Mike Collinsworth
“Max, the black standard poodle, is an eight-year-old male, and has been in the shop with me since he was a pup. It doesn’t matter what machine I have running; he’s fine. Beauty, the white standard poodle, is a six-year-old female, and is less likely to keep me company when I have machines running. Not only that, she loses interest and heads off into other parts of the house.” – Bill Pupkis
And, finally, we had at least one reader who raised a safety concern about the presence of pets in the shop. – Editor
“A good friend of mine lost a couple of fingers to his table saw when the family cat waltzed into his shop and he became distracted. Since then, I have thought it is a bad idea to have pets in the shop unless it is the proverbial dog that never moves from his spot.” – Brent Quarles
Preventing Tearout on Plywood Veneer
Another reader shared his own experience in response to last issue’s question about how to stop tearout on veneered plywood. – Editor
“Regarding tearout on plywood veneer, I have good luck using a circular saw with a good blade (nothing really fancy) and quality painter’s tape. Not sure why the tape method did not work for Fred, unless maybe it was too loose on the wood.” – David Crow