Story from the Shed

As mentioned, I’ve been reading through “Stories from the Shed” and have been coming across many truths in it that so resonated with me. Instead of recounting those that did here, get the book and find some gems of your own. 🙂

The book really speaks the old language of sheds, back before sheds were filled with cheap Chinese crap. I can’t completely knock those though- I certainly still have enough of them, so they have been a means to an ends, and a way into more serious levels of woodworking. My journey is still very new- it will take many, many more grey hairs before I feel like I might have a shred of credibility. What I see around me when I walk through the shed door does give me a good feeling of having made a valid start.

So many sheds I’ve seen are nothing more than a house overflow, with no possibility of anything being created, fixed, or at least attempted. Others are pristine demonstrations of inactivity- neatness being so profound that nothing can actually be made in their surgical white sterility.  I’m not proposing those being either end of a spectrum, more two corners of a polygon defining the gamut of shed types out there.  As those who have been reading this blog for a while (or have been committed (committable) enough to read back), mine has undergone a huge transformation over the last 12 months. Getting hard to even remember what it was like. 12 months on, and there is so much still to do to complete the transition. But I’m getting there.

It is a fine line to walk between functionality, and (potentially) useful item storage. I grew up with my Father’s shed- occasional garage and item storage, but still with a shadowboard full of tool- spanners, & ring spanners, hammers and screwdrivers. Even some jars with their lids nailed to the underside of a shelf and the glass jar screwed into the lid to store them (and more than one became unscrewed by me in search of a rogue bolt and had the whole jar slip and break!), and at least one box labelled “odds & sods”.  I may not have gone the glass jar concept (and these days it is probably listed in some house and home show or magazine) but storing every nut, bolt, screw, nail and washer is still strongly engrained, and there is hardly a week that goes by where I’m not ferreting around in one tray or other looking for the perfect nut and bolt combination for a job.  I even have a spun metal bowl just for initially throwing these items as I come across them, ready for a future (semi) sort. Of course I could head down to the local hardware store (and let’s face it, 99 times out of 100, these days that means Bunnings – there are no other hardware stores left it seems) and bought a bolt, but a. that defeats the purpose, b. they don’t carry a decent range of bolts anyway, and c. these days they seem to be primarily made out of crap materials that you can strip and or break with hardly a thought anyway. (There is a bolt shop near to where I live, so I know I probably should just buy the bolts nuts etc I need from there – like everyone, convenience is so attractive).

Guys – a bolt and the associated threads NEEDS to be put into tension – that’s how it works.  You have to make the bolt capable of being tensioned or it is useless, and I might as well have used chewing gum.  Oh, and while on the subject, that tension is achieved by rotating the nut with a degree of torque, and that causes torsion stresses, particularly in the stress raised area of the threads.  If you can’t make a bolt resistant to torsion stress, then think about a career change. Please. (Hmm – wonder if they also designed the Souther Star Observation Wheel, and didn’t even take into account a moderate amount of heat stress – a few days of 43C temperatures causing it to be shut down ‘indefinitely’ because of warps and cracks.  Did you somehow forget that metal expands when it is heated? Even 3rd world engineers in places that are subject to desert heat seem to be able to make rides, bridges, rail systems and power stations capable of withstanding thermal stress. It’s covered from the very first year of an engineering degree, so perhaps you shouldn’t have slept through that lecture.)

I guess my back shed (which is more storage than anything) is a bit of a testament to the changes in my shed. As I improve and upgrade my tools to a quality I want, the previous tools are relegated to deeper and deeper storage, until they find their way onto eBay or similar, to raise funds for the next venture. At this stage, it is still mainly my old Triton (and GMC) gear, so hopefully it will get to a point that both sheds will have space that is useable for the present, rather than a testament to the past.

A Type of Tool Storage

A Type of Tool Storage

That pile of timber there is part of a load that was being thrown away from the local Tafe – during a course some staff approached my course and said – take what you want from the pile, it is all going to the tip at the end of the day.  Luckily I had the stationwagon with me that day – I loaded it to the top with a massive amount of pine (all short lengths, all with nail holes etc, but timber is timber!) In the next week or two, I will be making a new wood rack for it to free up the space it is currently commanding in the lower shed, and hopefully I will find room to move once again.  It really is incredibly beneficial to have 2 distinct spaces (sheds), even if one is tiny (3m x 3m), as it means I have somewhere to store the clutter that would otherwise overrun my work areas.  This 3m x 3m shed was once the only shed I had, and I had a 1m long lathe, a tablesaw, a router table and a bit of a workbench all operating in this space, and still stored the lawnmower, garden tools, and all my other woodworking (and non woodworking) tools in there.  No idea how – must have been a Tetris Master in my previous life!

So enough of the rambling. Onward and upward as they say. So many plans, so many projects, so much contemplating……so little time!

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