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What a Workbench Should Really Look Like

Home. Home. I knew it entering.

Richard Hugo, "The Only Bar in Dixon", The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir, 1973

Sorry for the teaser of a title. It's 6:22am and it is still dark outside, the sun won't be up for almost another hour. Today will be a busy day, calls to make, errands to the flatlands and then work on guitars and the garage floor.

My workbench, simple and efficient for what I do. That is what a work bench should be.

My workbench on a good day

If my bench isn't cluttered it means that I'm not working, I get so involved with what I'm doing that I don't take time to put things away as I go. I know this is heresy in the woodworking world. My dad, who was a wonderful mechanic, always told me to never take a car to a mechanic who has a clean shop and clean hands, that means that he isn't getting customers or he spends more time cleaning then working. I've read that most musicians who become woodworkers tend to keep scrupulously clean shops, I guess I'm not much of a musician, I'm sure that James Krenov would take me to task for being so cluttered and disorganized. This is me, this is how I work.

Two guitar necks, on the left a copy of the crest used by Hernandez y Aguado, on the right, my version of Daniel Friedrich's crest.

I feel that I am buried under a backlog of work, I have so many guitars to french polish, but I need to keep up with my woodworking skills so I am forging ahead with 2 new guitars. That goes back to my last post, What I Forgot About Guitarmaking, there are so many things that I have forgotten how to do and I will probably post under that heading again, there are a few more points about working with hand tools and wood that I want to make.

YouTube of the Day: I studied with Warren Haskell from November 1994 to May 1995, he is a very generous man and a wonderful teacher, I feel fortunate that I had the chance to study with him. I was delighted to find his website yesterday, so here is one of his YouTubes. Enjoy!


  1. There are as many types of shops as there are people, and I would be reluctant to generalize about which type, fussy clean or neglectfully disorganized, you should consider buying from. Myself, I have a very small workshop in our basement with lots of dust making equipment and it is imperative to keep on top of dust and clutter or else end up in a poor state of health. The downside is that the shop-vac is constantly going!

    I don't know about you but I could do with a good month to do nothing else but build shelves of all kinds. Right now every horizontal surface has extra stuff on it, as well as the floor.

  2. I could use a good month to build shelves, too! I have wood cached on some shelves that need to go, the floor is storage some cedar guitar tops. A new tool cabinet is in the future so I can move the tool chest out to the new shop to give my studio more room. I did clean up my bench and vacuum today, the bench is in the room right next to our bedroom.

    Thanks, Tico!


  3. I believe that is called flotsam.

    My father always said "can't make money in a shithouse" and my shop is very tidy, wonder what Freud would say. Hey, whatever works.

  4. Ouch, Terry! I guess I deserved the "shithouse" comment!I hit a nerve about the cleanliness or lack thereof in a workshop.

  5. Wilson, just a general comment, my father tended towards hyperbole, another trait I picked up I guess.

  6. Some one by the name of "Debbie" asked a question about shop lighting for this posting. I'm pretty sure it was "spam" because of the misspelled words and poor grammar, but in case it isn't, that person needs to find a copy of Scott Landis's book, The Workshop Book to start their research on shop lighting.



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