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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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An Inspirational Woodworker
"Us Little Old Ladies Don't Just Sit And Knit..."

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

Have you ever met someone and things just instantly clicked? It has happened to me, a couple of times. One I married, the other is still my best friend. I never thought, though, that it was possible to "meet" someone electronically… that is, through email… and feel that sort of instant camaraderie, respect, and kinship. But it happened.

Figure 2 - Bev made the large drawer on
top removable so she could crank the drill
press worktable down for big projects
Beverly Taylor (who likes to be called Bev) sent me an email explaining how she had modified my design for the under-the-worktable drill press storage cabinet. My original design made the entire cabinet removable for those times when it was necessary to crank the drill press worktable down to a low position to drill something tall. Bev decided instead to make the top 12-inch drawer section removable. It seems she was concerned about lifting the entire cabinet off the drill press stand. At 74 years young, 5' 5" tall, and only 130 pounds, necessity proved, once again, to be the mother of invention.

It doesn't appear that Bev ever lets petite stature get in her way when she wants to accomplish something. Bev lives in a log home on 16 acres of Texas woodland. She was always hardy and handy, able to handle a pipe wrench, screwdriver, or chainsaw with equal ease. As a youngster she built a few rudimentary things from wood, but it was just 9 short years ago when she began woodworking in earnest. Casting about for an idea for a housewarming gift for a friend, she saw an advertisement for a plan to build a boat-shaped planter and thought, "I can do that!" With some rudimentary tools and the purchased plan she built the planter, and with the leftover wood, started building some other smaller projects. Like so many of us, her hobby took off from there.

Figure 3 - Bev built her cozy shop nestled in the
woods with minimal outside assistance
More skills and more tools acquired, of course, meant more space was soon required. Bev had already built a greenhouse on her property, so a shop seemed feasible. She had a concrete slab poured and built her workshop. Bev's son-in-law did the electrical work and her only other assistance came when it was time to lift heavy beams and sheets of siding. That's when her slightly more "mature" housemate (she is a little older than Bev) lent a welcome hand.

Bev planned into her workshop design a covered outdoor storage area for her growing collection of wood, and has since added an addition for her dust collector and extra storage. Bev's shop is a hundred yards from her house, and in addition to well thought-out electrical circuitry, has an oil-fired heater, a window unit air conditioner for those hot summer Texas days, running water, and a telephone.

Figure 4 - An efficient and welcoming workspace...
note the dust collection piped to every machine
Her growing tool assortment includes the drill press, as well as a table saw with built-in router table, a band saw, sliding compound miter saw, jointer, planer, oscillating spindle sander, two scroll saws, an assortment of portable power tools, and more. Like all of us, space is precious, so Bev designed and built a slide-out miter saw station that locks in place when in use, then slides out of the way to make additional bench top space when not in use.

Figure 5 - Bev's miter saw station boasts a
couple of innovative ideas
Bev scrounges for wood and tools, driving a hard bargain wherever she goes. She fuels her hobby and supplements her income by building toys, craft parts, and displays for vendors at craft fairs and helps build and renovate the display stalls at the local Renaissance Festival. In fact she is so busy, as she says, "with projects that put a little money in the bank," that her own projects sometimes have to take a back seat. While she has managed to recently squeeze in some Adirondack chairs, jewelry boxes, a church bench and other projects, some projects just have to wait. Meanwhile, though, she is continuing to collect an excellent supply of native pine, cypress and cedar and will no doubt soon be building more furniture.

I am quite sure this spunky lady will eventually get to every project on her list and the list will keep growing. In a recent email to Bev I complained a little about clearing the snow from my driveway and she promptly replied about taking her chainsaw out to clear her woodland hiking trails of fallen trees and limbs. She also reminded me of the soon-to-come 100-degree weather in Texas. The next time I feel like complaining about something trivial like snow, I will think fondly of my new woodworking friend, the lady who proudly says, "Us little old ladies don't just sit and knit." No ma'am, I guess they don't!

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