There is a point with every new house when it finally feels like home. Today is that day at 837 Willard St. in Covington, Ky.
Thanks to the help of countless friends, our storefront is officially a nice place to work. The clamps hang on the walls (thanks Brendan). The garage out back holds our few machines (thanks 347 people who helped with this project). And we have a coffee maker (thanks Nespresso).
On Saturday morning, we are launching the first woodworking class here at our storefront. We are vehemently not a school – we don’t have a name for it or a formal organization. This is just one of the many small things that we hope to do to give back to the woodworking community and Covington.
Interestingly, the tipping point that made the storefront feel like home had nothing to do with restoring the building, adding electrical service or draining my savings for two new roofs. Instead, it was the arrival of Megan Fitzpatrick and Brendan Gaffney as everyday co-workers.
In general, group shops can be tricky. There’s always a turd or 10 who ruin it for everyone else. Someone who clogs the dust collector and walks away. Someone who tilts the table saw blade 2° and walks away. Someone who dulls all your chisels. Or puts a cold drink on your finished project parts. Or…. I could go on.
I’ve been working with Megan for about 20 years. She’s a slob, but a thoughtful, empathetic rule-following slob. And so she is easy to work with in the shop. I’ve only been working with Brendan for about six months, and he’s an energetic woodworker who is – like Megan – simply a totally decent person.
Each of us has different way of making a living. I publish books and make furniture and tools. Megan is doing a lot of editing (for me and others), teaching and furniture making. Brendan is making furniture, tools and is working for Lost Art Press, helping with maps and technical illustrations.
In six months, this could all be different, but that’s OK. What I can say is that there will definitely be woodworking going on here, much to the bemusement of the 9th Street streetwalkers and the delight of the elementary kids who watch us everyday after school.
We’re also glad that our readers are part of this, whether they take a class, visit us on our open days (the second Saturday of every month) or commission a piece of furniture. Though furniture making is usually a solitary pursuit these days, it doesn’t have to be.
You just need the right people.
— Christopher Schwarz