An origin story

I have completed the first project through the shop at the new home front. It was a set of 2 curly maple frames with hickory accent keys, this project was a lot of fun because it was for my friend Ezra who is a local artist here in Fort Collins. I have to say I’m pretty proud of this project. It was a good project to take on as a first in the new space.  I have been woodworking steadily for 5 years now and this is technically my 4th “shop” space.  

My adult journey in woodworking began when I was 25. I had been working full time as a maintenance technician for a local apartment community where I spent most of my days patching,painting and cleaning up the pock marks and scars left behind from college students and young “adults”enjoying their first years of off campus living.  It was at this job that I discovered my passion for really working with my hands.  I discovered mechanical abilities and skills that I never knew I possessed.  I was exposed to every form of repair and maintenance you could pretty much run into and I had an awesome boss who was an old school kind of dude who believed in learning by doing. He wasn’t afraid to throw you into something over your head and let you loose to try and figure things out.  We did everything drywall, electrical,plumbing, carpentry , you name it. It was a fantastic place to learn and develop skills. Also not to mention that this was the place that I met my adorable wife, who is my biggest supporter and champion. While this job gave me tremendous opportunities to develop skills and forge crucial relationships in my life, it also gave me motivation. I knew that I couldn’t go on forever doing that type of work. It required very demanding Summer’s that left a lot to be desired in terms of wanting time to enjoy the nature that we are surrounded by here in Colorado.  It meant long work hours with a rotating schedule of 24/7 emergency on call. But Probably, most of all, it was all the thankless work I performed. I had spent countless hours of my time fixing and repairing and cleaning up the mess of young (spoiled) adults or “college kids”.  They wouldn’t clean all year long and then complain when they began to grow an alien life form in the crevices of the grout between their bathroom tiles. It was a thankless job and I grew tired of it. I knew I needed something to change. I knew I needed something to work towards. I knew I desired to develop skill in which I could channel into something more. I wanted a passion and I wanted to be proud of what I created. With the support of my wife, and the blessings of my hard work, I discovered my real passion for woodworking. 

When you get hit with the bug, you get hit with the bug. I started off purchasing tools of my own and before too long I had a good basic set. I needed a place to store them so I settled on the only available space at the time… The shared laundry/boiler room of our four plex.  Every project required me to drag out the needed tools for that day and then to clean everything up by the end of the day. Not the most ideal space but it was a start.  I worked out of that closet for the first year until we moved.

Krysta and I were given the opportunity to live on site where we worked. When we were offered to live in the manager house I made a request for space in the basement to create my shop . My wish was granted and this would be my first respectable shop space. It was a very functional space and it did me well. It was located in the creepy bomb shelter looking basement of an old apartment building that I often question whether or not if it was actually haunted. I was given the opportunity to clean up the space and make it my own. After 2 coats of floor epoxy, 6 coats of wall color, electrical and lighting I indeed had a respectable space. The space was a little larger than a one car garage, which finally gave me enough space to stretch out and get some real work done. This space was a real game changer in woodworking for me because now I had a dedicated space to work and if I needed to walk away for a while I could do so easily by locking the door behind me.  That meant no more cleaning everything up for the day which in return gave me so much more time to woodwork. Now machines and tools had dedicated places. I was able to build a giant rolling table/docking station for my little Bosch table saw which increased the usefulness of that saw tremendously. I built dedicated cabinets and storage and finally had enough wall space for a proper lumber rack. Everything I built down there shop wise was built to be mobile and modular so it could work in any future shop space. 
I spent almost 2 years in that shop and really appreciated and took advantage of that space. During this time I decided to switch companies and continued to work full time as a maintenance tech at the new place. This was the period of time that my wife and I had been married and we were looking to purchase our first home. I worked that job for the next year and a half and it was then that I realized I needed to make woodworking my full time gig. One day I was working in the shop when my wife gave me the news that her company was going to be sold. She told me that she was nervous that even though she was promised her job she was scared she was going to be let go. Never question a females intuition. A month later the sale went through and a day before closing, the new company came into my wife’s office and told her they would no longer need her services even though they promised her a job. They gave us 10 days to find a new place and vacate the premise… This was 10 days before we were expected to host my wife’s family for Christmas. 

This brings us to my third “shop” space. After being given the boot we had very little time to pack up an entire house and shop and find a new place to live.  It was extremely stressful and really shitty but we stayed strong and we were able to rent the upstairs unit of a duplex. It was a 2 bedroom 1 bath space with no extra storage space. I had to ask my wife the unthinkable. “Honey. I love you! You are the bestest Wifey ever. May I please use the spare bedroom to store my tools and do light woodworking?” Did I mention that my wife is a sweet heart and is willing to make sacrifices to help me pursue my passion. She was awesome and due to the crappy circumstances she allowed me to setup in the spare bedroom for the year that we lived there.During this time I focused on my hand tool skills and I finished my French workbench. 

I suffered an unexpected job loss and was laid off but was able to turn that around and land a full time woodworking job in a local custom cabinet shop. I finally felt that all of my investments and hard work in pursuing woodworking had paid off. I worked at the cabinet shop for the next six months and it was during this time my wife and I purchased our first home. I was finally going to have a good sized 2 car garage to work out of. Right after closing I received the crushing news that I was going to be laid off from my cabinet job and it was uncertain if I would be returning or not. We got through the purchase of our home but unfortunately I found myself jobless. This was tough for me but it’s truly a blessing in disguise because in the last few months of being out of work I have been able to spend a lot of time in our new home fixing things and putting together a new shop. A shop of my own. I have created business cards and I am currently working on my branding, business plan, and this website.  Through all of our struggles and hard work my wife and I are finally beginning the next chapter of our journey. We are first time home owners and we are very excited about our investment in ourselves. We are realizing that everything we have worked for is paying off and we are creating new opportunities each day. 

The point or moral of this origin story is that no matter what challenges life throws at you. If you remain strong and focused and put in the work, our efforts will be worthwhile. You can achieve the goals you set out to conquer. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged due to time,space, or resource restrictions. Enjoy your craft in the best possible way for you, based on your skill level and means. Just get out there and follow your passion.

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