Little Workshop of Horrors

Little Workshop of Horrors

My workshop. First off, I admit I am certainly not the neatest of handymen, nor among the best organized. This photo of my garage workshop reveals as much. It’s also evidence of the fact that I shun comprehensive, strategic planning that might otherwise result in solutions that prove smart over the long-term. Instead, I tend to jump into home projects willy-nilly, making series of one-off decisions that each seem perfect in the moment. That’s how I wound up cobbling together this nightmare of a home workshop – an amalgam of work tables of various sizes, shapes and styles.

My first acquisition. A versatile, Seville Classics mobile storage cabinet (pictured at left) was a sensible one. It provided then-adequate enclosed storage via a cabinet with an adjustable shelf plus four drawers that glide easily on ball bearings. The unit’s top is a ¾”-thick wood workbench with a smooth, hard finish (presumably polyurethane). At the time it seemed as though this workbench tool cart would satisfy all my needs for my lifetime. I was so young and naïve. Like most obsessed tinkerers, I was constantly discovering new tools and gadgets that I simply had to add to my workshop. One of these, a set of those; you get the picture. A pegboard with assorted hooks and holders made a good home for hand tools…for a while. It wasn’t long before my workbench on wheels was maxed out.

Additions. Over time the projects I undertook expanded in scope, as did my collection of hand and power tools and all their various attachments. Pegboard soon covered the adjacent wall as well. I shopped around for workbenches but ultimately decided to build one myself. A fairly simple creation, it provided added open storage on a lower slatted wood shelf, plus a larger and sturdier work surface compared to that original tool cart. The work bench top is 1-1/2”-thick maple edge-grain butcher block with a natural oil finish and it fits the bill to a T. Still I remained on the prowl for more benchtop work space as well as enclosed storage space to satisfy my insatiable appetite for more and more guy stuff (reminiscent of Audrey II – the carnivorous plant in “Little Shop of Horrors” crying out, “Feed me, Seymour!”). So next, I repurposed a discarded desk with colorful metal-faced drawers. I make good use of the desk’s drawers, as well as its ¾”-thick laminated worktop. But still, something was missing from my little workshop of horrors.

More butcher block.Then it hit me like a brick. The idea was to use the converted desk and narrow bookshelf situated to its right – on which I store still more tools and such – to support a massive butcher block that would become the literal cornerstone of my Frankenstein-like creation. It would span the corner gap between the storage cart on the left and the butcher block work table on the right.

In this picture you can see the answer to my tool shop dreams (or little workshop nightmares?). It’s resting on the floor in front of the tool cart. It’s a 2-1/4-inch-thick commercial-grade blended maple butcher block made by industry leader John Boos & Co. in Central Illinois. The block is finished with Varnique – Boos’ own varnish-like blend that provides a protective shield and makes cleanup easy. Boos workbenches provide all the functionality and durability handypersons could want or need for their home workshops. This particular block started out 48 inches long and 34 inches wide. Custom cuts – one straight and one mitered – made it just the right shape to fit the corner and to maximize the amount of available benchtop workspace.

I’m very pleased with the end result. Deceptively, it almost looks as though I followed some grand design vision. But you, Dear Reader, now know better. Oh well, as they say, “All’s well that ends well.”