Whoever first said that if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, must have been a woodworker. Or maybe a magazine editor. In any case, it sure sums up how I feel about my job, which is equal parts of both vocations. I’m pretty sure a coal miner would rather not dig more coal when he or she is off the clock, and I know quite a few schoolteachers that don’t dream about teaching once summer break begins. (My wife is one of them!)
But what do I do when I’m not building something for the magazine or testing a bunch of new tools? Well, oftentimes, I’m woodworking. Or I’m trying out some new tool. And whether I’m building for the magazine or for myself, the way I feel about it is exactly the same. The experience is equally satisfying, whether I’m earning a living or just wrapping up a personal project on a Sunday afternoon.
The top snapshot here will give you a glimpse of what I’ve currently got “cooking” in the shop, and as luck would have it, there are a few “down” days between getting the last issue off to press and starting our work on a new print issue. So, I’m squeezing in some time to work on a bank of four upper and base cabinets for the shop. It’s sort of an anniversary project, you might say. Almost a year ago to the day, I was moving into this shop space (see photo, below), and I’ve had these cabinets rattling around in the back of my mind ever since. But, while working for a woodworking magazine might seem like a gravy job to many folks that only woodwork after dinner and on the weekends, we on staff actually have way too much to do most of the time. So, like you, many of my woodworking projects take a back seat until I can get around to them. (My wife will attest to that, too. She’s been waiting for a new closet closet I’ve promised to build her for two years…)
I’m really enjoying the process of working on these cabinets. For one thing, I can imagine how much they are going to improve my storage situation in the shop. I have boxes and boxes of shop stuff that still has no place to go … but soon, it will. It’s also nice to make multiples of the same thing. Usually for the magazine, we build one prototype of a project and then a second for the article. Changeover from one project to the next is pretty quick and constant, but this time I can take the Henry Ford approach. On the bench, I’m just about to assemble seven more sets of doors. It only makes sense to get one machine setup ready, then blast through them all at the same time, before moving on to the next phase. There’s a lot of repetition, to be sure, but that gives me time to think, plan the next step and enjoy the process of making something with my hands — even if that’s an exercise I’m blessed to be able to do about 50 weeks of every year.
Here’s to hoping that you find the same sense of satisfaction that I do in this wonderful craft we all share — whether you get paid for it, or not.
Catch you in the shop,
Chris Marshall, Senior Editor