When we were very young...

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My first memory of a workshop is the old, cluttered and incredibly small place in my father's house, somewhere in Europe. My father and grandfather used the workshop to store their tools and to make things of metal. They both liked to cut, join, hammer and solder metal parts. They had all the heavy tools needed for that but there were almost no woodworking tools. Sure, there was a heavy duty table saw and a few chisels and saws, but not much else. The table saw was home made. It had a gigantic three phase 360V motor and a very large blade. The saw could cut all kinds of wood, but it was used almost exclusively for one purpose: my father and my grandfather would cut large logs into smaller pieces and then use the wood in the stove... I was fascinated by the saw, but it was the one tool that was strictly off limits for me. I guess my father was afraid I would loose my fingers. He was probably right.

As a young boy, I used to spend a lot of time in the workshop. The memories are fading now, but I remember doing many weird things with wood, steel and other materials, including some chemical ingredients...

Then I went to the university and forgot how much pleasure working with one's hands gives. Many winters have passed. Then a year ago I was sitting in front of a computer screen and had one of these rare moments. An epiphany of sorts. There I was, spending my life in front of a screen. You see, first I was a student so my life focused on books and computers. Then I started working in a library and not much changed, books and computers were there with me. I needed something different. I needed a change. I suddenly remembered the feeling of a tool working metal or wood. It all came back to me and I knew I wanted to start again. To give some more meaning to who I am.

A year has passed. I now have an almost fully equipped workshop in the basement of our house. Over the year I have read several dozen books on woodworking and discovered a fantastic world out there. I realized North America was a woodworking paradise. But this is a story for another tale...

Updated 01-22-2011 at 10:57 PM by Bill MacDonald (Added to Member Blog Category)

Member Blogs , Workshop


  1. Mike in Penetanguishene's Avatar
    My story was similar Kris... faint memories of my father's workshop and suddenly realizing a few years ago I needed something other than my work (which was a hobby turned career too) to help me unwind and focus on myself. I look forward to future 'tales'.

  2. Tim 3.14's Avatar

    One thing I have learned so far is that there is more than one way to do things.

    Although I don't have the same story you do I certainly appreciate you sharing your tales. I don't have the "working in my father's shop story" like yours, but I do share the same passion for expressing my creativity and having that place "to give some more meaning to who I am".

    I look forward to future tales and sharing in the journey.

  3. stevem's Avatar
    i remember my dads workshop too, always full of old fine hand tools. he still has uses them everyday.
    ironically, he's over 80 now and said to me a year or two ago that his shop now in their condo is the nicest, warmest and brightest shop he has ever had
  4. Mark in Burlington's Avatar
    Thanks for sharing Kris,
    My Dad had a 9" Beaver TS and a drill press. I remeber getting him a real Freud carbide saw blade and being able to cut hardwood and not just pine for the first time. I saved up to buy my first planer when I was 15 and just amazed at watching planed smooth salvaged pallet wood come out. My high school shop was all Wadkin, then I really got the bug
    Cheers, Mark
  5. Kris in Toronto's Avatar
    Thank you all for your kind comments and good words!

    Mike, I asked my father to take some pictures of the old table saw. I'd like to post them here at some point.

    Tim, yes, it is true. After all, all ways lead to Rome. I tend to think a lot about our place in this world and they way we live.

    Steve, perhaps you could post some pictures of your father's hand tools? I am pretty sure it must be a really nice collection. The idea of an almost exclusively hand tool shop is very tempting, but I don't have the skills to do it. Not yet;)

    Mark, what was your first planer like?
  6. Bill MacDonald's Avatar
    Thanks for the story Kris. My father was the antithesis of the handyman. A cheap hammer, a couple of crappy screwdrivers and a dull handsaw were about the only tools he ever owned.

    My grandfather was the handy person, but sadly he passed away when I was only 10, so I have only vague recollections of his array of handtools and his workshop. Many years later when my grandmother died, I helped clean out their house. Of course by then, all the tools were long gone. But, in the basement, tucked up in the floor joists, I found my grandfathers wooden 3' level. It was battered and worn, but I took it home, cleaned it up and now keep it proudly displayed in my shop. To this day, it is still more accurate than several of my store-bought levels.