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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

This month:

The New Down To Earth Workshop is Done (Almost)

Pegboard Racks & French Cleats – A Down To Earth System

Workshop Lighting – The Science Simplified by the Newest Scion

Finished! --- Finally (Well...Almost!)

Figure 1 - Less nervous this time, knowing that the Pod is empty!

Even though I had seen it before, the mobile crane that lifted the empty storage pod into the air and moved it effortlessly onto the transport truck was no less fascinating. The technology was developed to move ocean-going shipping containers and, in true entrepreneurial brilliance, later adapted to the unique needs of over-the-road household movers. The gentleman that picked up the empty pod was the same who moved and delivered it a few months ago full of my precious cargo. He was on a tight time schedule, but he took a moment to humor me by looking at all the equipment that had been safely transported and stored. He smiled graciously as I gave him the "nickel tour" of the shop, and politely excused himself to finish his work. I guess he might have been more interested if he were a woodworker.

The move-in was relatively uneventful and fast...way faster than loading the storage pod. I fashioned a temporary ramp from the pod, across the four-foot space, and over the shop door threshold. As each machine rolled across the threshold, the ramp pivoted down to the floor and the equipment rolled smoothly into the shop. The workbench, of course, has no wheels, so other than boxes and other containers, it was the only "beastly" thing that had to be manhandled into the shop. We took it a little at a time, and even that task seemed easy.

Figure 2 - Halfway done! The lumber rack takes up the back
right fourth of the Pod and it is full of lumber.

The lumber rack was quite a different story. Although it was built with wheels, my new shop plan was to utilize the barn behind the garage for lumber storage. That meant the lumber rack had to be moved across unpaved terrain, uphill, about 35 yards. No small feat for a unit eight feet long, five feet high, and two feet wide, weighing over 300 pounds empty.

Fortunately, just as we strapped on our shoulder dollies and were about to make the attempt, my neighbor called and asked if I needed any help. He knew about the move-in, but had been away all day. He was on his way home and could be at the Down To Earth Woodworking shop in just minutes. Heaven-sent, he is.

Figure 3 - Before you start laughing, I
ran out of moving blankets. This is a
comforter that better taste replaced,
repurposed for the shop.

I have since spent a few days unwrapping machines, opening boxes, and generally trying to get organized. Organizing the shop and finding all the nooks and crannies to store every bit and piece is part of the fun of it all. The shop is starting to take shape.

Now it is time to ease back into woodworking. I won't start immediately on that desk project that was interrupted by the move though, nor will I start with a Windsor chair, a Queen Anne chest, or even that plant stand or occasional table a certain accommodating and deserving spouse has requested. I will start slowly, building a few simple shop fixtures and racks first, then a new stand for my bench top mortise.

No damaged was incurred during the move, equipment or personal. But everything needs some tweaking, equipment and personally. My jointer fence is a bit out of square, as is the table on my radial arm saw and my own ability to make a straight crosscut has diminished. My moving helper used the tables on my drill press and band saw to roll, push, and shove the units...he didn't know better, I wasn't watching, and I'm not upset --- I would have checked and fine tuned the alignment of everything after the move anyway. No one mishandled me during the move, but I am also out of line, slightly off kilter, and a little sore.

Figure 4 - No damage, but the
auxiliary table on my drill press made
a too convenient "handle" for pushing
the unit around.

With each project, I will tune-up each machine and hopefully my rusty skills. I will sharpen my tools as I use them and re-hone whatever skills I might have had, but that have been dulled by months of plumbing, flooring, electrical, and other non-woodworking work. I will futz with the placement of equipment and recalibrate the muscle memory that comes only with repetition. As I build simple projects, my tools and equipment will take shape, as will my confidence.

Speaking of rust, even though the storage pod was never visibly wet inside, even after torrential downpours, it was apparently more humid than my shop. There was a fine patina of rust on iron tops everywhere. Fortunately my hand planes and better chisels were stored inside the house during the conversion of the garage, and they are in great shape.

My general strategies for rust have historically been three-fold...wax, camellia oil, and dreams of (and saving for) bronze planes and granite-topped power tools. The preventive measures have typically been sufficient, but now I need to do a little rust removal.

On the jointer bed and the table of my Rikon Deluxe 18-inch Band Saw, I used fine steel wool and Briwax (I used clear). One application did it with the band saw, two with the jointer, and the rust was gone. Then I applied a third coat, this time with a rag, let it dry, and polished the surface. If only removing the rust from my skills was so easy!

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