Full Chisel Blog

September 26, 2008

Setting up Shop

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:39 am

Well, this move has been a real eye-opener.  I did not realize just how much stuff I had accumulated.  Now a lot of this stuff is interesting, but not really necessary in a shop.  I also realized that I have just too many tools.  Now that is something you probably won’t hear from another woodworker.

First image

Here is what it looked like after two truck loads.  There is still one more partial load, a large secretary, a couple of chairs and some miscellaneous stuff.  I spent a day starting to arrange and unpack all of my carefully packed crap fine tools.

New shop 1

Here is what it looked like after spending a half a day organizing, unpacking and taking inventory of my tools and other things.

New Shop 2

If you will notice on the corner of my tool cabinet is a tool holder full of twist auger bits.  These are some of the 50 odd extra drill bits, all are double twist (Jennings pattern), cleaned and sharpened.  I have reduced my collection to what I actually use, one complete set from 3/16″ to 1″, with a couple of doubles on some that I use a lot.

And while it looks like a nasty mess right now, I will continue to unpack and set up a traditional shop, loosely based on historic probate records from the mid nineteenth century, nothing more.  I am reducing my collection to the minimum.  So what has come over me?

Not sure, but I think having all of this stuff can be a distraction from getting work done, too many interesting things to get me off on a tangent.  I also don’t really need five 3/4″ twist bits, nor 4 dovetail saws, nor 6 rip saws, nor 8 crosscut saws.  Heresy?  Sacrilege?  No just a lot of nice tools that should be out on the market for people to actually use, instead of collecting dust in my collection.

So as soon as I have everything separated and my kit of tools together I will be offering my extra tools for sale.  I will set up an on-line Gallery and offer the tools for sale individually, properly labeled as to their maker (if known), size and their condition.  I also plan on offering for sale some of the other old stuff I have collected.  I will also have a separate section of wooden objects (furniture, kitchen utensils, tools, &c) that I have made.



  1. Hi Mr. S,

    Three or four years ago I initiated what I termed “The Quest for Less.” Over the following year or so I sold off or gave away everything that I hadn’t used in the previous year. Even sold some off my user tools with the intention of replacing them (like metal planes in order to return to wooden planes).

    I still have a bunch of stuff that will go away at some point. I guess Foster’s book “Freedom of Simplicity” had another impact in my life some 25 years after I read the book…

    Take care, Mike

    Comment by Mike — September 26, 2008 @ 9:40 am

  2. Stephen,
    Glad to see your gtting back set up again! I’ve undertaken a similar task lately, namely selling off all of the extra tools I have to pay for ones that I don’t have and find myself needing. It was an eye opening experience to actually sit down and ask myself what I really needed and used. The benefit has been better organization, less extra stuff and some cash for tools that I did need. Of course there are still more that I do need, so I’ll be anxiously awaiting your list-o-tools for sale ;).

    Comment by Bob Rozaieski — September 26, 2008 @ 11:01 am

  3. Hi Stephen,

    Yet again we are on the cycle. Remember the state of our mountain-man gear in the mid 70s? Finally by the 90s, I was priming with 3F, to no ill effect, and was even able to get rid of the priming horn.

    I, too, have been on a get-rid-of-the-unnecessary for a couple years. Seems to be a common feeling these days, as reflected by previous comments here as well. But I’ve noted what I call the cafeteria-tray effect. Whenever I clear something out, almost magically something else pops up in its place. A bit discouraging.

    And then I wonder: how did I come up with the money to buy all that stuff? Trading my life’s time for stuff, I suppose.

    Still, the concept of focus becomes more important to me as I get older. Many projects that never got off the ground are now gone, and I don’t have to feel guilty about not getting them done.

    Good to see you’re getting set up again.


    Comment by Ken Pollard — September 26, 2008 @ 1:11 pm

  4. Hmmm… I’m still in the accumulation phase of the cycle. Perhaps I should email you my address, and be happy to pay for any shipping? (Grin!)

    A move is good for us once in a while, as each reiteration of the shop becomes more refined and therefore more efficient. I keep telling myself that, anyway. Glad you’re getting organized.

    Comment by Mack — September 26, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

  5. Stephen,
    I noticed something similar recently in a thread on a woodworking forum that I frequent. People were posting pictures of their shops for hobby woodworking. There would be three or four pictures to cover all of their power tools, dust collection apparatus, etc. I had one picture which was enough to show my workbench and every tool that I use (I only use hand tools). However, I know darned well that I have a lot of duplication. In my quest for the ultimate dovetail gauge, for instance, I bought three different kinds and made another myself. Now I know what kind I like, but I still have all of the others. I only use two different sizes of auger gimlets, but they come in a set of 7, so that’s how many I have. The same thing happens with other ‘sized’ tools. I used to use a Stanley 78 for rabbeting, but now I have the exquisite Veritas skew rabbet planes, so the 78 is extra baggage and goes into the closet. Buying better (or just ‘different’) and keeping the old is a major source of accumulation for me, and it sounds like it it for you, as well. As you get more and more focused on the period that you want to recreate, you find that some of your tools aren’t quite on target.
    Oh, I’ve been watching for a set of Jennings auger bits, so…. 🙂


    Comment by Metalworker Mike — September 27, 2008 @ 4:31 am

  6. Gentlemen,

    Thank you for your comments and encouragement. I did manage to discard a lot of useless crap during the move. And in the course of unpacking, I just decided I had too much stuff. While I have been trying to throw something away every day, I still have a lot of stuff.

    So it is down to stuff that is just too valuable to discard and just shouldn’t be sitting in a box. Hence my decision to start selling the extra items.

    It hasn’t been that long and word has got out, I am starting to get commissions and I haven’t even got set up yet. I do have the luxury of only doing what I want to do so I can’t complain.

    Thanks again.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — September 27, 2008 @ 8:41 am

  7. Stephen, please let me know if you have any “useless” moulding planes.

    Comment by The Village Carpenter — September 27, 2008 @ 11:58 am

  8. VC,

    I only have a couple of bead planes that would count as molding planes. All of the moldings I make are built up, so they are fashioned by several planes. I do run into them on occasion, I will keep you in mind.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — September 27, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

  9. I did not want to make another post as I have other things to talk about, but here is the next days work on organizing the shop.
    New Shop

    It may not look like much, but a lot of stuff got put away.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — September 27, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

  10. And here is the Tool Cabinet as it is getting fitted out. I still need to do something about the chisels.

    Tool Cabinet

    I am also going to rebuild the base, I have an idea.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — September 27, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

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