Sadly, I can’t write about our machine room without saying something about electricity and woodworking.
Because I appeared on Roy Underhill’s show six (?) times, some people think I use hand tools exclusively. In fact, one visitor to my shop started making the sign of the cross and hissing when he saw my table saw.
So here are the words that I can’t believe I have to write.
There is only one line when it comes to our craft. Either you make things with wood or you don’t. If you make things in wood, then I am on your side – whether you use a flint-knapped piece of shale or a CNC router.
Any person’s attempts to divide us – by the tools we use, the styles we work in or the gurus we worship – are false and destructive. And that person is likely selling something.
And yeah, I’m selling something, too. But I don’t give a flying fart what tools you use.
We call our machine room the “Electric Horse Garage” because it shows up on an old insurance map about 1906 and is labeled as “stables,” though there’s no evidence any horses lived there. The building has had many uses during its lifetime. Neighbors said that two delivery trucks used to be housed there. Another said that someone tried to open a neighborhood bank there? And we know for certain that someone tried to transform the building into a single-family home until the city shut it down.
When I bought the place, the building had a gable roof that I tore off, and the interior was covered in layers of paneling, drywall, plywood, bathroom tile (no lie) and probably some asbestos. There had been a fire that damaged the main beam of the building, and so Jeremy Hanson and I rebuilt it one Saturday. And when we got the electricity working to the building, we were so happy that we called it the Electric Horse Garage.
In any case, prepare to be underwhelmed. I know many readers who have nicer shops. But I couldn’t be happier with ours. It is my first above-ground workshop. It has natural light, a mini-split for HVAC and is only steps away from where I live.
— Christopher Schwarz
34 thoughts on “Storefront Tour: The Electric Horse Garage”
It’s not the appearance, size, or type of tools in a shop. It’s the mindset, skill and ability of those who work in it.
Whatever happened to the giant stone bank facade that was going to be in the biergarten?
It was too big for the small space. So I attempted to give it to Will Myers. Not sure if he took it or not.
You mentioned a delivery of ULINE products in the video shot. Not to drop a fly in your Soft Wax, but you should check out the philanthropic tastes of the owners, Richard and Liz Uihlein. You might decide it is worthwhile to find supplies from another vendor.
I always thought that anyone who would hand plane 100 board feet of rough sawn oak REALLY LIKED hand tool woodworking.
Thats a good word about not being stodgy about others methods and tools. I like the set up in the electric horse garage. It shows how you don’t need a lot of space to set up a credible furniture shop. One of your articles once mentioned an 18 inch bandsaw. Did you change your mind and decide you did not need it? I recently bought a 14 inch bandsaw and am kicking around in my mind what all I am going to use it for beyond just making staked birdhouses and birdhouse furniture. I have always used a table saw my whole woodworking life. I have not been able to wrap my mind around using a bandsaw for ripping.
We sold the 18″ band saw. It didn’t earn its keep. A 14″ band saw is plenty enough for what we do.
That was where I ended up as well on the 14″ inch bandsaw (that it will be enough for what I want to do) though I have not learned my way around it yet. I did not imagine myself needing to resaw 13 inches either. I bought it for setting up to make chairs this winter and I liked the approach I have been reading about in The Stick Chair Book. I appreciate the help you have given through your materials.
I’ve been saving this year to buy a band saw. I mostly want it for resawing since thicknessing by hand is unpleasant. After much headaches over the issue, I decided I would start with a 14″ model to see if that is enough. Turns out Grizzly makes a 14″ model that has 2 HP version capable of resawing 13-1/2″ wide boards. I have some 12″ wide 1″ thick cherry I want to resaw to 5/8″ thick to make Becksvoort’s 15 cherry drawer. Found a YouTube video of a woodworking club that has been using this model for a few years for resawing and they seem to be happy with it. If all goes to plan I should be able to place the order in Nov.
Watch Michael Fortune’s YouTube video “Eliminate Bandsaw Drift” 9:46 minutes. After 40 years of trying to cope with drift (single point fences, adjustable fences, different guides) followed the man that uses 11 bandsaws. It now cuts as straight as my Sawstop. The problem was the table.
By credible I mean along with the bench room as well. I have divided my garage into a workbench room and a power tool side as well inspired by your blog.
Yay, Yay! Couldn’t agree more. At 77 my power tools save me. Don’t rip many boards by hand, and must confess, never did. Flexibility and compromise.
I own a Leigh dovetail jig. Woodworking is a secondary hobby for me behind music. I don’t have the time to devote to learning and perfecting hand cut dovetails. That jig has allowed me to quickly make things that I wouldn’t have made otherwise and I’m glad I have it. Thanks for letting me not be ashamed about stating that.
Hell yes. There are many days I wished that I owned a Leigh dovetail jig
Don’t feel bad Steve, I still use a kreg jig. Every tool has its place.
The shakers used pocket holes. Frank Klausz said in one of his videos about cleaning out most of the waste from a blind dovetail using a router and jig, “(paraphrase) my dad didn’t have a router and would have done this completely by hand. But if he had a router, he would have used it.”
Maybe the “unstables” had to go to the bar and weren’t allowed to mingle with the “stables”.
The doors look wonderful, did you make them? Any concerns for security?
We made the doors. They are temporary until I can afford to have heavy ones made. The doors have alarm sensors on them. More importantly, we have too much stuff stacked against them from the inside to move them. And our street is safe and there is a lot of foot traffic 24 hours.
Jimmy Hoffa may be in there somewhere! 😉 Keep up the great work…whether with a froe or a CNC.
I have two shops, the one at home is for power tools with dust collection and one corner is for metal working. my shop/school in town is all hand working to including a barns No.3 and a Barnes No. 4 1/2 a post drill and a Yankee auto feed hand crank drill press. I think mixing the two styles is a good thing. I justified the use of power tools like this… every village had a saw mill close by and you could have them mill your wood to close dimensions. So make saw dust any way you wish. Thanks for sharing your shop with us.
Hey Chris! Is the LAP Storefront open for visitors at this time? I’ll be driving through Covington on Monday and would love to peek in!
I’m afraid we cannot accommodate drop-in visitors. We get requests every week, and opening that floodgate would bring work to a halt here.
Sorry to sound so inhospitable (it hurts; I’m Southern). We just don’t have the staff or slack time to receive people.
No worries; thanks for the quick reply! I did pick up an extra copy of a book recently that I thought you might like; I’ll drop it off by the door if that is ok 🙂
Looks to me like you could not have found a better place for your business. Having a dedicated machine room completely separated from your main building and bench room yet only steps away, is a blessing. Love the natural light you have coming in, well done on the restoration, all looks great.
Thanks Pascal! It is perfect for what we do here.
I don’t understand why you can’t admit that you sought out and created a separate machine room simply to protect the cat.
I’m thinking shale would be a poor knapping rock because it is sedimentary and would flake instead of chip. What did I miss?
Throw in the term “hybrid woodworker” as well. What the hell is that? Like you, I use tools. Corded and hand.
This is exactly what I try to impart to my middle school shop students. It doesn’t matter what you make or how you make it. Just make something.
How good are those concrete walls for sound insulation? You don’t get problems with the neighbors?
My wife has ADHD and is extremely sensitive to noise, so I’m wondering about that for the day in the future where I’d get some machines
The neighbors prefer the noise we make to the noises the bar used to make every night until 2 a.m.
We only run the machines from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And honestly, all you can hear at the street is a low hum. I’ve never heard the machines when inside our building. If I were worried about sound, it is easily fixed with the acoustic wallboard they sell for home theaters in houses.
Just having the space to do this is good enough for me . If I want to use a log I use the petrol chainsaw with ripping bar specifically bought for that purpose . I am not inclined to breakdown that log with the two handed saw which belonged to my grandfather , nice though it is. Conversely with some of the limestone I cut the tungsten tipped handsaw I have is more efficient and ably to perform bigger cuts . There is a reason why pesky black magic electrickity is popular. You get stuff done .
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