New Shop, Full Circle

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy painting, installing garage door openers and running base molding in my new garage/shop. It’s been a leisurely process, mostly in the evenings and on weekends, because I don’t have a big project on the drawing board quite yet. But, this new shop space is going to get very busy in the next month or so, as I’ll be working on a couple of big articles for our October print issue. (Yep, magazines work that far ahead — it isn’t even June!)

At some point between coats of paint or sinking nail heads, it occurred to me: this new shop kind of brings me full circle. When my wife and I bought our first home — a cozy little place at about 800 square feet — my first “official” shop was a one-stall garage. We continued to park in that garage, so the space was really tight. Then came a move to central Ohio, and the shop grew from one stall to two. We rarely parked in that garage — or more accurately, we really couldn’t.

The shop took precedence, and our cars became driveway fixtures. About six years later, we moved to the country. This time, two stalls became a 30 x 30 ft. portion of a retrofitted barn. Cars once again had a dedicated garage, and I had more shop space than I probably even deserved. That barn retrofit, though, was done entirely by me. There was as much sweat equity put into that space as there was service received from it. Fast forward to last year — and another trans-state move — this time we needed to build a space for woodworking and, I promised my bride, a place where she would always be able to park her car. In the interim between last summer and this spring, while a contracting crew put the building up, I’ve squirreled the shop into a corner of the basement and waited patiently (more or less) for the new garage/shop to be done. Now it is. The winding road of the past 20 or so years has in fact, turned out to be a circle. I’m back in the garage once more, but this time with a little more elbow room.

All of this is to say, well, any number of things. First, I’m extremely blessed to have had each and every one of these shops over the years. They’ve helped me enjoy this craft to greater and greater degrees. They’ve been a source of income and vocation and they’ve been a place of refuge from a sometimes hectic, frenetic family lifestyle. And, having worked in shops ranging from barely 200 to nearly 1000 square feet, I have a pretty good firsthand appreciation for the variety of shop spaces our readers have. Of course, it doesn’t take a lot of room to build amazing projects. We see evidence of that in the mail that comes to our offices every week. But if you’ve got the room to spare, it sure doesn’t hurt, either! Finally, I’m really looking forward to sharing this new space with you over the years to come, in print articles, videos and blog posts like this. Hopefully, what comes out of this room will help inspire you in your hobby, whatever your shop space happens to be.

And I won’t apologize if it means your car spends a lot more time in the driveway. I’ve been there before, and in a manner of speaking, I’m there again.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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