The Solace of the Shop

Standing in my back yard, I’m struck by the beauty of spring. Winter’s dismal grey has finally yielded to vibrant tulips, peonies, and wild violets. Bees buzz around my feet, birds soar overhead, and squirrels scurry across rooftops. This Spring’s symphonic bloom is all the more pronounced because it’s not competing with the usual hum and bustle of modern life. Instead, darkened buildings, vacant parking lots, and the occasional lonely car cruising the road evoke an eerie post-apocalyptic flick.

Under quarantine, many of us are unable to go to work, enjoy a meal out, or simply gather with friends and family. The COVID-19 crisis has upended our normal lives and overwhelmed us with the loss of certain freedoms, jobs, and sometimes loved ones. The pandemic seems to have the planet wobbling on its axis while we struggle to keep standing.

With a world out of order, it’s comforting to have the solace of a shop. And since woodworking tends to be a solitary affair by nature, it actually suits quarantine rather nicely. If we like, we can seize the opportunity to really focus on our craft. Protracted isolation allows practicing the presence of mind required to skillfully execute beautiful projects. Lack of distraction can contribute to organized stock prep, precise joinery, flawless finishing, and everything in between. And in the process, it offers a certain amount of peace in a pandemic. To top it off, the shop is one place where it doesn’t feel strange to wear a face mask!

Perhaps you require respite from relentless news. Or maybe you’re just looking for some time away from family. Whatever the reason for your escape to the shop, we have plenty to keep you busy. Build the stool on p. 32. Construct a case to house your saw blades (p. 44). Improve shop safety by making featherboards (p. 28). Learn how to work a new wood (p. 54), or bone up on a little furniture-related U.S. history (p. 52). And don’t let social distancing prevent you from meeting new woodworkers (p. 4 & 8).

Enjoy your shop time, and use it wisely. Let creativity be your contagion, and try to spread positivity. Get active. Be present. Stay engaged. And although you may be spending more time by yourself, remember that we’re all in this together. Stay vigilant and healthy, my fellow woodworkers.

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