Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In the workshop













There's a part of my house where I don't spend much time. It's not really my place, it's my husband's. Yes, we own the house jointly and he's no chauvinist, but to me, the workshop is his space and I'm happy to just visit. When I do, a tall wooden stool is quickly produced for me, dusted with a whisk broom if necessary. The children are often out there with him. I can sit on my stool and watch them bustle around, each absorbed in their own task. He spends many evenings out there too, finishing tasks he can't do with little kids underfoot. He is patient with them, teaching them to use tools safely and to clean up after themselves. He built footstools for them to stand on at the benches. He is relatively fastidious about his shop, as he is in most things he does: an engineer through and through.

Many of the tools and some of the benches were handed down to him by his grandfather, who was a very accomplished craftsman and builder. He was a building inspector for the city of San Diego, California for decades. He built his own home as a young man and maintained a workshop in his backyard, housed in a purpose-built detached building. He accumulated tools and built his own benches and cabinets over many years. As he approached the age of 90, his eyesight failing, he offered everything in the shop to his only grandson, as he couldn't use it any longer. We flew to California and spent a week clearing out the shop and loading benches, tools, machinery and supplies into a Penske truck. My in-laws kindly offered to drive it to New York, where we lived at the time. We set up the workshop in the back of the large garage we had there. He made himself a nice space, his first workshop of his own.

A few years later, we moved to New Mexico and the shop came back across the country, this time in a massive tractor-trailer supplied as part of our corporate transfer. It spent a couple of years in the tiny garage of our first place here, a small rented townhouse, then it came to our current home. It occupies one bay of our two-car garage. It's a little cramped, but he makes the most of the space. He bought himself the drill press a few years ago; the inherited 1940's one wasn't safe or useful anymore. But he uses the reloading equipment, the hand saws, the planes and the screwdrivers and hand drills, the bench grinder. I enjoy poking around the shop. There are nails and screws sorted into coffee cans and cookie tins as old as our parents and interesting old rags - tablecloths, towels and washcloths that were once someone's good linens. It all came from a serious craftsman who knew his grandson would treat it just as well. And now he teaches his son (and daughter) the same.

Does your home include a workshop? I'd like to hear about other spaces like this one. I love the history behind ours. Some of these items have been continually used for over 70 years! I'm glad my husband has this place for himself. Working out there makes him happy. He remembers so much of the equipment from when he was a boy, helping his father and grandfather with their work. He was very close to his grandfather, who died five years ago. He misses him a lot. He is very appreciative of the things he inherited and the opportunity to create things for his home and family like his grandfather did.

38 comments:

  1. A lovely post, Jennifer and I'm so glad to see that your husband is teaching your children to handle tools properly from an early age. DH did the same with our two and is continuing the tradition with our three grandsons. He too has a workshop at the end of the house, with some tools inherited from his father and mine, as well as a lot of more recent acquisitions. I often wonder whether he uses them all, but they give him great pleasure, so I don't say anything. :-)

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  2. Not a workshop as such more a corner of a shed. We have my dads old tools amongst them and the youngest has always taken an interest so has his own carefully collected tools. An important lesson for them to learn too. A lovely post.

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  3. I love seeing this, partly because my hubby has one also and it looks similar - wood shavings, old tools... Our kids used to love to be out there with him, and sometimes they still are. Wonderful post!

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  4. No workshop for us. My husband uses a shed in the backyard for an office though. Instead of building things with tools, he uses books (some handed down by his dad who is a preacher) to put together sermons. Not really the same thing. A little different but same idea.

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  5. It reminds me of my dad's little space in our garage - nothing on the scale of your husband's though. My dad taught me many things - how to change a car tyre, how to check the oil etc, how to paint wood, how to hang wall paper correctly, tiling...................
    I spent quality time with him, learning loads along the way. I love that both your children are in there with him, pottering about.

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  6. I love seeing stories like this, where things that were touched and used by one's family members continue to be respected by the younger generations. Your own son will eventually, I'm sure, have these tools as his own memory of the beautiful days you've described.
    I have a few tools that my own dear grandfather used, and many sewing items from my grandmother. My own space is an old table, but paper and crafty supplies are everywhere and it's my own special place, in the basement, and away from any "help" I'd be offered by the cats or grandchildren!

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  7. I really love that you and your (very handsome) husband, are passing along all of your talents to your children....
    Nope.....no workshop here.....but we do call a table in the shed at the cottage, his "workbench" ....
    More of an inside joke than anything else!
    He does try to "glue" things together though!♥️
    Lovely post Jennifer....
    I am sitting in the sunshine at my kitchen table....watching the yellow Finches, as miss V sleeps upstairs♥️
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  8. I really love the top photo in this post. Really interesting to read and how nice that your husband uses things in his workshop passed down from his grandfather. Great that he is teaching your children how to be safe around such equipment too. My husband has a shed which is mainly filled with things for his big hobby - mountain biking. He spends a lot of time out there maintaining his bikes! To be honest, I don't go in there, the most I will do is stand at the door calling "Do you want a cup of tea?!"
    Marianne x

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  9. Lovely to see a nice tidy workshop. C. has a VERY untidy space, I will post a picture one day. He says he knows where things are, but I'm not so sure. He always maintains that he is waiting for a rainy day to get it tidied! I don't believe that either!
    Sue

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  10. It is so lovely that all of these things were passed to your husband and that he is now encouraging and teaching both of the little bears to whom he will no doubt pass many of these things in future years. What lovely times they all spend together I am sure, and they will have great memories of their time together, just as they will of their time with you! My husband has a garage and space in the garden shed, but I try and keep out of the way as I am neither use nor ornament in the workshop department and I have my own things to keep me busy! xx

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  11. Such a lovely tradition to continue, my grandad had the most amazing shed when we were kids with so many wierd and wonderful tools and also really old gardening tools, he was a fruit farmer and we still have his hoe, which is much better than any modern one and of course I have my Summerhouse, which once stood in my other grandparents garden, about 7 miles up the road which we dismantle and moved here when they needed space to build a grandad flat.
    Clare xx
    Clare xx

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  12. I wish I could say our workshop was as tidy and organised - more of an Aladins cave - and higgledy piggledy to boot. John inherited his dad's woodcarving tools - he was an excellent woodcarver, self taught at the age of 75. One day I'll post some pictures of his carvings. Unfortunately John has no interest in carving so I guess these tools will pass down to our grandchildren one day.
    Patricia x

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  13. My husband has annexed the garage as a workshop, bike shed and general storing place (he is a hoarder). He, too, loves his grandfather's and father's tools.
    It is nice that your children learn to use tools and make things with their dad! Cx

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  14. What a lovely post, how wonderful to hear this story of all of the tools. I do love old things that have been well used and well loved. And how wonderful to have a husband who is practical and good with his hands. I have one or two old garden tools that I used as a child, and I treasure them. The tools that your husband has inherited should be treasured indeed. And I love that he is teaching his children using them as well.

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  15. We have a three car garage-one side is tandem so that back space is the workshop. It is mostly Hubby's space but I'm quite welcome to join him when he's working on a project. I love that your husband in lipids the little bears in his projects out there. The memories will be there forever
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  16. Oh how neat and loved reading about those old tools in use still. I may be female but I love tools and when I was young I spent a LOT of time with my dear dad out in his shed making things, hence I am a pretty handy woman lol. A lovely time for your 2 to spend with their dad xo

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  17. Yes we have a large workshop under our house, adjacent to the basement. We call it The Cave. It has little natural light, but lots of messy man stuff. There are old tools too, from both our families, some from grandparents so very old indeed. I tend to keep away, as I have my sewing space to play in, which suits me very well. Great post, Jennifer.

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  18. Unfortunately we don't have a work shop. I'm not talented at all when it comes to creating things out of wood, haha! (My fiance isn't either.) I wish I had that talent! I really enjoyed reading this post, and checking out the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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  19. Such a beautiful post! I do so love that all of these tools are now with your family! I remember the workshop my grandfather had and it brings back so many memories to see some of those tools. What a great thing to pass on to your kiddos! It is something they will always remember! Lovely day to you tomorrow! Nicole xoxo

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  20. The farm we live in was inherited by our family from my Great Uncle that lived here until he was 94 .We definitely appreciate the older tools and the unique area my Great uncle used as his workshop.

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  21. Nice to see lot of old tools. It tells lot of memories. Old is Gold!

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  22. What a wonderfully equipped - and tidy! - workshop! Great that Mr Bear is teaching the little ones - you always remember the things you're shown like that when you're older. We have a cellar (basement) but it's not really a workshop - more a storage space.

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  23. How lovely for your husband to have something which was so precious to his grandfather. These tools were obviously made to last, as most things back then were. We don't have anything like a workshop, we don't even have a garage as it was pulled down to make way for an extension to be built on to the house.

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  24. How wonderful to still be using those old tools, handing them down through the generations. We don't have a workshop, just one very small garage in which we store tools, bikes, gardening and decorating stuff. Neither of us like to be in there and we only go in to fetch something; consequently it's a complete mess. Your photos are lovely, as is the workshop. x

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  25. Seeing these pictures brings back so many memories, Jennifer! My dad had a huge workshop, all part and parcel of being a farmer I suppose. Many of his tools had previously belonged to his dad, who was also a farmer. Back in my grandpa's day you had to be able to build and/or repair many of your own things. The one thing that's different are the coffee tins. The ones in my dad's shop were Folgers, since that is what my parents drank every morning. :-)

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  26. Looks like a brilliant work shop I know my partner would love one instead of our drafty garage haha x

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  27. Ah, looking at the photo of your daughter investigating the wood shavings brings the scent of wood to my nose, the sawdust and iron/tool smell...all remind me of my grandfather and great-grandfather, both excellent woodworkers, and I'm happy to say I have many of the wood toys my great-grandfather made for my grandma, which have been played with by four generations now! A workshop gives such tactile and sensory memories, I'm sure your husband has them, and now your children will as well. Beautiful! Chrissie xoxo

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  28. What a lovely post Jennifer. I loved hearing all about the history behind your workshop. I bet your bears learn so much in this space, such important skills for the future! We have no such space but my husband would love this. He currently does diy jobs in the garden, not good when it is raining (which is frequent here!) The old tools reminds me of my dad's shed, everything old and worn but works as good as ever. He also has old tins full of screws and bolts. Thank you for sharing, I love all of your photos. :)

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  29. Wonderful post Jennifer. I think it's so cool to have so much history within your workshop. Love your photos! :)

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  30. In our house I am the one with a workshop :) I love that your husband lets your kid see his workshop, very cute!

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  31. What a great story of the workshop. There's soothing about coffee cans with' this and that's' in it that brings with it a nostalgic feeling. Thanks for bringing back some good memories.

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  32. That's really nice that your husband has and can use these things.

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  33. What a nice workshop your husband has and to have inherited it all is the best part! We have barns and sheds and tools, but not really a unified shop space. A neat story you told. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  34. This post brought back so many memories for me. My husband is also very handy and his workshop takes up our entire one car garage...no room for a car in there at all!...But it's what you wrote about your hubby's grandfather that got to me. My father, also an engineer, had the most wonderful shop in the basement of the home I grew up in. Last year, after my mom got sick and could no longer live alone in the house, we had to clear it all out. We brought all of his tools back here. My husband and sons (and me too!) wanted everything. Frank had to build a shed out back to house some of them (an old drill press included) because now the garage is just bursting at the seems with his own large collection of tools plus my dads. I'm pretty handy myself thanks learning from my father...on a footstool in the basement. He's gone six years now. I miss him more than I can say. My eyes welled up while I was reading your lovely post, but the memories it stirred were wonderful ones. ♥

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  35. We don't really have a workshop in our garage, but at the end of one of the bays, we have wood cabinets with wide shelving on top - and then more cabinets above. We didn't build this - the guy who owned the house before us did. I love that your husband has a little workshop and that he takes the time to teach your kids these things. :-)

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  36. A beautiful story Jennifer. The photos are amazing, as always. I can almost smell the wood. Have a nice weekend!!! Hugs :D

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  37. What a lovely story of continuity and craftsmanship and handing things down from the past into the future. We don't have a workshop like this, but we do have a creative space which is used for all sorts of activities, including my pottery and sewing. xCathy

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  38. I just love hearing stories like this, Jennifer! How wonderful that your husband has so many great tools and memories of his grandfather. My grandfather was a master carpenter and a Carpentry Contractor for many years. In his later years he was a finish carpenter -- VERY meticulous. He took such good care of his tools, but they slowly filtered through the hands of my dad who was Mr. Destructo. My grandfather did manage to save one of his handsaws and passed it on to our son. It had been sharpened so many times that it was shaped to a fine point at the end. Our son takes good care of it. My husband inherited some tools from his dad, who did a lot of puttering and diying. My hubby (also an engineer, but not a tidy one....lol) can do just about anything in the building-diy arena. We have a home with a third garage that is separate from the double garage. It's a full-size single garage (some are little just for a golf cart but not this one) that he has turned into his workshop. It's a bit cramped, but he is making it work and lots of magic happens in the space. Our daughter was not interested in any of that kind of building-thing, but our son was and still is. Even though our son is very busy in his "Chef" job, he has still managed to build several pieces of furniture for his family. It's really fun to see those skills passed on.

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