Moving a Shop…Got Any War Stories?

Generally speaking, I’m pretty good about taking things in stride and not dwelling on myself. But honestly, this has been a really tough summer. You see, our family is in the process of moving to Virginia. My wife was offered a wonderful new employment opportunity in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and opportunity was knocking loudly enough to pull up roots and move. But therein lies the catch: the “moving” part.

In the interest of saving money, we’re doing it all ourselves using a commercial container system…packing, loading, unloading, unpacking…everything but driving it all there in a truck. The house is finally empty for the most part, so all that remains is to transplant the shop. So that’s what I’m doing each night after work, like a worker bee dutifully tending the hive. I’ve done this once before, but the memory of it somehow didn’t deter me from doing it again. It should have, because packing a full-blown woodworking shop is no picnic. Especially if, for the most part, you’re doing it alone.

Take last Saturday night, for instance…around eleven thirty p.m. My neighbors were probably settled into some good cable TV or maybe even heading toward their first REM cycle of the night. Me? I had four pieces of machinery still sitting in the yard on skids, waiting to be loaded. I had spotlights plugged in, there were bugs flying around everywhere and I was measuring this and that over and over again to see what and how would fit where. The dew was settling in, so I was worried about a fine coating of moisture covering all of that ferrous metal. But even more troublesome was the imminent threat of rain that had been building all day. I was determined to get those machines into the container if it killed me. And, my back tells me it nearly did. Thankfully I managed to avoid the rain. It never rained a drop.

Fourteen hours earlier, while loading my too-big-of-a drill press onto a skid, its center of gravity suddenly went amok — they’re awfully top heavy, you know  — and over it tipped. Thank goodness no one was in the way of that cast iron Sequoia, because it shook the building’s rafters when it hit the floor. My shop floor is covered with plywood, so actually there wasn’t much harm done to the machine. But the accident didn’t leave it unscathed. The top pulley case will never close properly again. My fault…lesson learned.

I’m both happy and sad to say that that familiar 30 x 30 ft. space is nearly empty. It’s been a great place to produce content for our fine magazine (remember the ridiculous photo of my cabinet saw review setup?), improve my own woodworking skills and just get away from it all. I will miss it like an old friend. But I’m anxiously looking forward to building a new shop in Virginia so I can keep the articles coming your way in the future. In the interim, I’ll be using a corner of the basement just as I used to do many, many years ago.

So how about you? Maybe you’ve sweated and sworn your way through a woodworking shop move yourself. Have you worked into the wee hours to get it done? Got any war stories and mishaps to share from your experience? I’d really appreciate hearing them. Misery does love company! And maybe we’d all get a laugh out of it to boot. I’m sure some day, when my arms aren’t sore and the bruises fade, I’ll look back on that dropped drill press and laugh. Maybe.

They say “change” is one of those things in life that’s unavoidable. But I can tell you this: once my shop is settled again, I’m going to avoid “change” for a good long while.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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