A Tour of Bill Grumbine's Shop
After promises and procrastination, I have finally produced some shop pictures done up for the perusal of all you Ponders.
The new shop, seen here, was actually built in 1942. The date was painted on the wall and scribed into the concrete of the floor. No one signed their name—I would not have signed my name on the floor either, as it is not the best work one could have done. But anyway…
The shop is located on one corner of our property, on top of a hill. It looks a lot like a garage, but it is really a shop. The building is 20' x 30', and constructed of a half wall of concrete, with post and beam red oak on top of that. The siding is “barnboard” T&G. There are two small windows on each end, but the best part are the three sets of doors, which have a southern exposure. That, combined with a huge maple tree just outside the doors gives me great lighting on nice days. On extremely hot or cold days, I content myself with artificial lighting and closed doors.
Eventually I plan to put in some skylights and possibly some plexiglass windows in the doors. The prevailing wind also comes in from the west, making for a nice breeze most of the time. The left bay is the Poolewood bay, the middle is for the Unisaw, and the right is the main entry way, which is big enough for me to squeeze my truck in if I need to unload something out of the weather.
One of the real luxuries I have already installed in this shop is climate control. I have a big air conditioner pirated from the dining room of our last house, and a monster radiant heat tube that goes the whole length of the shop in the peak of the roof. Not only does it heat the whole place evenly, but it is out of the way completely.
This is a close up of the right hand bay. Another first time luxury for me is an actual desk! It is a drafting table and chair inherited from my grandfather. The window behind the desk allows me to see down the road and be nosy instead of doing any real work. To the left of the desk is an old freezer converted into a bowl and blank kiln, and to the left of that is my yet to be hooked up cyclone. Eventually there will be shelves for books, the radio, etc over the desk, but for now it’s just the inside wall. The extra chairs are from our AAW officers meeting a few nights ago.
Here is the Unisaw that is older than I am. This thing is incredible in its accuracy (now all I need to do is fix the loose nut on the handle!). The Excalibur sliding table is a little on the small side for large panels or sheet goods, but since I use mostly solid wood, it is fine 99% of the time. The saw came used with a 52f" fence, and again, without a lot of sheet goods going through, the end of the table makes a good place to pile things. As you can see, it is well piled now with finished bowls, bowls waiting to be finished, and a cabinet I am building using a picture for a reference guide.
Under the outfeed table is burl storage, safely locked up in the event Thomas* shows up some moonless night in his Ninja outfit. The saw sits in the middle of the shop, with as much room as possible all around. Behind you can see where I have started to build cabinets along the wall. As time and money permit, I plan on lining the walls with various cabinets, and someday even building doors. A lot of tools are still on wheels from the bad old basement days, and most will stay that way, at least until I settle on the best place for them to live.
Here is an “in through the door shot” of the Poolewood bay. I couldn’t ask for a nicer setup here. I can literally rough out bowls till the shavings are knee deep. Then, I pull the tractor and cart up to the door, shovel the place out with a coal shovel, and off to the mulch pile they go.
The rolling cabinets will eventually be replaced with a built in cabinet and countertop, and the scroll saw is going to move elsewhere. Behind the Poolewood headstock is the Vicmarc mini lathe. Along the wall going back are the grinder, drill press, Workmate, and air compressor. The Jet jointer is against the far wall. The big orange thing in the foreground is a 1000 watt work light. I can turn, see, dry the wood, and get a tan, all at the same time.
This is a shot across the front of the shop looking toward the lathe. The bandsaw is right by the door, making it easy to haul in rough bowl blanks and pitch the scraps back out into the cart for removal to the burn pile. The layout also makes is easy for turning students to observe from all angles.
Except for the burl pile and the kiln, there is no real wood storage in the shop itself. Currently all my wood is either next to the corn crib (turning stuff) or in one of the chicken coops (no chickens, yet). My ultimate goal is to side the corn crib over. It is a massive structure in its own right, with a huge concrete base, capable of storing thousands of board feet of lumber and tons of turning blanks.
So this is it. It is the nicest place I have ever had in which to work wood, and I feel a deep sense of privilege and blessing to be here. There is a lot of work yet to do, and I will probably be tweaking it for years to come, but that is half the fun. Thanks for taking a look, and maybe someday I’ll see you there someday (I know I’ll see some of you, and soon too).
* Tom Skaggs—member of the close community of woodworkers at the time of the original posting, and remains so to this day.
Originally posted 12 September 2000
wb 16 June 2001
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