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Cheaper Than Therapy

I’ve finally – thanks to Delia seeing something on Facebook – gotten a lease on a space that I can use as a workshop. It’s a few minutes bike ride up the Thames, in a converted shipping container (or rather two, joined together). The rent is reasonable, and the space is probably more than I really need. It’s pretty rudimentary and will probably be freezing in winter, but it’s definitely A Shed. I’ve moved all my tools in, and started settling.

To begin with, I’ve purchased one of the Sjöbergs benches, and spent Saturday afternoon assembling it (Today I went up and oiled it, and started moving tools into the storage). I’ve had Bo up there, and we’ve put his travel crate in one corner so that he can make himself at home. He seemed pretty happy there, so I can see that this will be somewhere we will stroll up to in the evening for a few hours pottering, being blokes together in the shed.



I did have a large workspace under my house in Australia, but paradoxically did not get to use it terribly much for myself. I fell into the pattern of doing a lot of work for other people, almost always pro-bono, and was knocking out stuff in bulk out of rubbish timber. I also fell into the pattern of buying more and more equipment so that I could do a lot of repetitive work quickly, all of which I disposed of at cut rates before coming to the UK.

  • But making saw dust is one of the reasons I wanted to come here, so that I had the chance to work with better timbers, to try to reproduce pieces I see in museums, to make things for my own pleasure, and enjoy making things again. To that end, I’m not going to be going mad purchasing a lot more equipment, but will be doing (almost) everything by hand. I did retain all my router bits, and will pick up a router soon – the ability of a router to cut rebates and grooves, and shape edges, is something I would not forgo for larger pieces of work. I also held onto the Leigh jig, for much the same reason.  I’ve also got the inevitable cheap electric drill (which we grabbed here) because making small holes with a brace is just a plain nuisance.

I will acquire some additional hand tools, though, to round out what I have. I’ve already grabbed a couple of Veritas carcass saws, which will see me right for most small stuff I’ve got in mind, but I am going to need to acquire some decent planes (which may be an expensive proposition, unless I can find some antiques in good condition).

Short term plans are pretty basic. First projects, necessarily are

  • a couple of work benches, for assembly, and to mount the Leigh jig on
  • Some shelves
  • Boxes for the shelves to put tools etc in.
  • Clean and rehabilitate tools

The boxes / shelves / tool wrangling will all have to happen more or less at the same time, but the benches are a priority, so I will have to find some way of getting some plywood and framing timber delivered (I’ve got a few different plans for some quick benches requiring not much in the way of lumber). I do have a concrete list of stuff I need to get into the shed, which I will put here so I can remember it:

  • Vacuum Cleaner (We have one that is now redundant, because it was rubbish)
  • Notebook and pens and pencils
  • Garbage can
  • Power adapter for Australian to UK mains
  • Water bowl for the dog
  • fine sandpaper for cleaning tools
  • Rags. Lots of rags for wiping stuff and hands.
  • Parafin wax
  • Brush for sweeping off sawdust.

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