February 7, 2023

Furniture Makers

We Speak Furniture

From the editor: A shop to call home


Welcome to our annual Tools & Shops issue. I’ve always thought that it was a cumbersome title, but I guess it’s true that not only
do we need the tools necessary to get a job done, but we need a place to work as well. Of the two, I think that finding or making a place to work is the bigger challenge. It can be a stumbling block and a barrier to entry for aspiring woodworkers, but we all seem to manage somehow. My garage has never seen a car since we’ve lived in our house, and I’m aware of more than a few basements that are littered with sawdust. And, yes, spare bedroom workshops are not as uncommon as you might imagine. I’ve seen sheds and front porches and back patios and renovated mill buildings put to use as shops. In this issue, we feature a log cabin that has been retrofitted into a wonderful work space. More and more, urban woodworkers are making use of shared spaces. On the rare occasion, I’ve even come across that most elusive prize, the custom-built stand-alone shop.

While I might pine for more space and better dust collection, I have to say that my far-less-than-perfect shop suits me just fine. Even if I could conjure up my ideal shop, it wouldn’t be perfect for another woodworker. Someone specializing in built-ins is going to need a much bigger space, while a spoon carver may get by with a stool by the fire. I sometimes envy the chairmakers with just a lathe and bandsaw in the shop.

As the end of fall points to the onset of another Connecticut winter, my shop, heated and insulated from the cold, becomes more than just a place to work, but a refuge of sorts as well. It becomes a place to think and plan over a cup of coffee at the bench, a floor to sweep, a shelf to finally reorganize, a set of chisels to sharpen. In that way our shops come to reflect not just what we make, but who we are as makers. So, while there is no such thing as a perfect shop, we are all quite capable of making a shop that is perfect for us.

—Michael Pekovich, editor and creative director

From Fine Woodworking #286

Join Mike Pekovich as he takes you through the shop’s principal elements in this video workshop tour.

Make it comfortable and you’ll spend more time there

Scope out his timber-frame shop on a one-horse farm in Vermont