Before we begin, let's all bow our heads and recite -

(I found this prayer on the KenVaughn's site. He borrowed it from a woodcarver)

Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm a man of wealth and fame. No - that's the Rolling Stone's introduction. Sorry. Let's try again.

My name is Charlie Belden, aka charlie b, and I live in Silly Cone Valley. I'm a "right brain" and "left brain" person (I can do "math" AND draw a straight line without ruler).. Trained in Chemical Engineering, I've been drawing, painting and sculpting since I was three or four. I did custom jewelry on the side and taught lost wax casting of small sculpture and jewelry for about 12 years. I've been into computers since the mid seventies (remember the Atari 800?) and got heavy into computer graphics when the Apple Mac first came out. Computer graphics is my other creative outlet. I earned my living as a long range transportation planner performing and analyzing computer forecasts of what this valley's traffic nightmare would be like under various land use scenarios 20 years in the future.

Much of what follows will be familiar to those farther along the woodworking path or will become familiar to those about to step onto the path.

As the time approached for my escape from Gainful Employment at the ripe old age of 54, I started planning for my version of The Dream Shop. A 16 X 20 former two car garage was just waiting to be converted into a shop full of POWER TOOLS (I'd found Norm and the New Yankee Workshop a few years earlier and was certain "I can do that!").

Unfortunately, the space was already occupied - big time! Having stayed in one place for 23 years, it had slowly filled with all manner of STUFF. Culling through all that STUFF left me with less, but still a considerable amount of Stuff Worth Saving. So the "attic space" got a floor and became the "temporary" resting place for most of the Stuff Worth Saving. That left a nice big floor to clean and coat with epoxy paint. Skinned the walls with a mix of 3/4" OSB and ply so I could put things up anywhere I wanted to and it firmed up the shop considerably - nice when you live in earth quake country. Painted the walls and ceiling with semi-gloss Navajo White - reflects without glare.

In early '99 I started researching wood working - getting books on tools and equipment, methods of building furniture, sending away for and then devouring catalogs from Grizly, Rockler, The Tool Crib, Highland Hardware, picking the brain of a cabinet maker friend up in Oregon (Thank You Dennis-check out his display cabinets ) etc . . Dropped in at local tool stores on a regular basis to drool on the Heavy Iron, to play with hand tools and to ask all the dumb newbie questions. Sales people get real attentive and helpful when you start talking about buying $6,000 or so worth of stationary machines. (of course $6K was just the preliminary estimate - quickly exceeded)

By mid '99 I thought I knew what stationary tools I'd get and began making scaled layout plans of my future woodshop - the Unisaw/PM66 here, the 8" Jointer there, the 12" planer there, the ROS, Disk and Belt Sanders over there, the Bandsaw against the wall and the Drill Press against the opposite wall, the Work Bench behind the cabinet saw ... All those plans went in the trash when I found out about the Robland X31 five function combination machine while surfing the net. After going through Gerald Masgai's web pages on making a four panel door using the X31, I called Laguna Tools, the US distributor of the machine, and requested their video on the unit. About half way through watching it for the second time I called Laguna and put in my order for a Robland X31. With one phone call I'd eliminated having to decide on FIVE stationary machines - table saw, shaper, jointer, planer AND mortising machine.

I subsequently realized that you can't make good cabinets and furniture with just Normite power tools. Neander handtools are essential - chisels, hand saws, planes, scrapers ... and these seem to proliferate at an amazing rate. Three Steve Knight woodies and a couple of marking knives have led me to a boatload of chisels, a pile of iron Stanley planes, a handful of saws and so on.

And then there's the wood. I found out just how small a Board Foot is and the checkbook damage the wood for your project will make. I have a reasonable sized band saw and started noticing all the free logs, logettes and mini-logs left on the side of the road waiting to be hauled to the dump. Some of the interesting stuff can be cut into boards for use a year later - sycamore, walnut, cherry, apple, almond, oak, elm, acacia, plum - I've found them all. Once folks knew I use this stuff they start calling when they had anything they thought I might be interested in cutting up. Soon I NEEDED a chainsaw and now keep it in my van - just in case.

Small stacks of stickered boards drying began to appear - and grow. The three shelves for wood storage, which seemed more than adequate when Iwas planning the shop, filled and overflowed - small slabs and blocks of "good stuff" began to fill all the "tuck it away" space in the shop, great "got such a deal on 'em" boards started leaning against available wall space where I can always see them. Furniture grade plywood starts blocking access to shelves and cabinets.

The "really big shop" I started out with became cluttered - tools took forever to find. That's when "shop furniture/cabinets" went to the top of my To Do List. Most or all of my tools got a good workout and I started realizing how much I had, and still have to learn about woodworking.

So many books. So few shelves. So little floor space. So much wood. So little money, So many ways to join two pieces of wood together. So little patience. Woodworking - what a trip!

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