It’s a long drive to Kentucky from most places. So we decided to make some short video tours of our storefront so you can see how we have our workshop set up, take a look at our library and even meet Bean the Three-legged Shop Cat™.
Our first tour is of the bench room, which is where I spend most of my good days. This room is also where most of the interesting events happened during this building’s history as a bar. The drag shows of the 1990s. The female bartender who was shot after she roused a patron asleep at the bar. And the place where the owners used to sell stolen TVs.
These days things are a little more boring in the front room, and the neighbors couldn’t be happier.
Stay tuned for tours of the library, the Klaus Skrudland Memorial Bathroom, our New Kitchen, the Biergarten and the Electric Horse Garage (aka the machine room).
Below my signature are some photos of what the bench room looked like when we bought the place. For your own protection, please wash your hands after viewing these photos.
These are pieces of screwed-together 2×12 (which start off at 1-1/2″ thick, and have been planed until pretty). If I recall correctly, there are three, maybe four, screws into the top and bottom of each upright, through the horizontal pieces, all sitting on a screwed-together base. The shelves are secured to the wall with many L-brackets that are bolted to the masonry wall. A lot of visitors bring their children to the storefront, so we wanted to make sure the unit could be safely scaled by a gorilla.
And while they looked ridiculously capacious when Brendan Gaffney finished constructing them from Christopher Schwarz’s drawing, they were full up with woodworking tomes in just an hour or so.
The drawing below – plus knowing that the pieces are from 2x12s – should provide enough detail for you to easily adapt such a system to your own library wall needs.
In many of the picture of the Lost Art Press shop our “tool walls” show up. They’re hard to avoid, given that they’re in back of Christopher Schwarz’s workbench, and take up half of the back wall of the shop. And every time they show up, we get questions about them – so here are some answers.
The walls are actually heavy wooden sleeves that fit over three “boarded bookcases” (from Chris’s “The Anarchist’s Design Book“), made from pieces of not-great cherry that we’d had for at least a decade.
The walls are simply enough pieces of 3/4″-thick (or thereabouts) cherry butted together (with a small gap – about a dime’s width) to make up the width of the bookcases (which are about 36″ wide), long enough so that they leave a small gap at the bottom (of about 1″) to allow access underneath to lift.
Clinch-nailed across the bottom on each wall is a piece of 3/4″ cherry, with another flush to the top; these hold the vertical boards in place. Glued and screwed to the back edge of the top is a panel that spans the top of the bookcase plus 3/4″ (3/4″ x 14-1/2″ x 36), with another piece (about 4″ wide) glued and screwed to it that sleeves over the back.
At the two front corners are two triangles (gussets?) screwed in place with (quelle horreur) Pozidriv (I think) screws. The ones on the sides are countersunk; the ones on the top are not. And I’m fairly certain the boards were used fresh out of the powered planer. In other words, these are pretty much slapped together out of available stock. And we finished them with two coats of shellac. But they hold a lot of tools and they look nice, as long as you don’t examine them too closely. We add a new nail or Shaker peg whenever a new tool needs a tool-wall home. Or we make a simple rack if that’s the best storage solution, and screw that to the wall.
Please note that only our non-personal tools live on these walls. If it’s hanging out in the open, it’s fair game for students, contractors, spouses… The stuff we don’t want people to use? Stashed in our tool chests.
I argued for some kind of hinged or sliding doors, so that the bookcases behind the tools would be easier to access, but I lost (so if I have to get into one of the bookcases, Chris has to help me – I can’t lift those myself…and Chris lifts them by himself only if absolutely necessary). For as often as we need to remove the walls, it was too much work/trouble. So, when we have an open house and need to access the bookcases (where we display the Lost Art Press books), we remove the tools from their various hooks, nails and pegs, lift the walls off the bookcases and stow them in the back, then hang the tools back on the walls until we’re ready to cover up the books again. Not only does this give us a place to store the shared tools, it protects the books from dust and workshop bruises.
And come Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, we’ll be lifting off all three walls for the first time since December 2019 if memory serves – from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. that day will be our first open house in more than a year, and we hope to see you here!
With woodworking schools opening across the country, we are asked almost every day when we will resume classes here. Here’s the deal.
We plan to wait until there is a safe vaccine for COVID-19. There are several reasons for that decision.
Classes here can be physically strenuous because of the handwork. Students sweat, huff and puff a lot as they saw, plane and chop. Doing that work with a mask is misery, and the heavy breathing is ideal for spreading the virus.
Our workshop is compact. Keeping people at a safe distance is difficult, even with small classes.
Our students come from all over the world. Some of our students are older and therefore more vulnerable to the virus.
My mother and Lucy’s mom (both local) are both particularly vulnerable to the virus, and we see them several times a week.
If anyone got sick (or worse) at one of our classes, Megan Fitzpatrick and I would never forgive ourselves.
As soon as a vaccine is readily available, we will open our doors for classes and a long-overdue open day. If you want to be among the first people informed about classes, the best way is to subscribe to our blog. Simply enter your email in the box near the top right of this page by the headline: “Subscribe to the blog via email.” You won’t get spam. We don’t sell people’s addresses or have sponsors/advertisers. You’ll just get an email every time there is a new entry.
We look forward to having some new faces around here. I know Megan must be sick of me and my prattling on about chair design and marsupial trivia.
Until then, stay safe and we hope to see you soon.
When we purchased this building in 2015, I lost all hope at the closing.
Lucy and I had just finished a final inspection of the place before signing the papers. I looked around at the building, which was 85 percent painted purple and was filled with glitter that was so pervasive that it would soon enter my digestive tract.
Buying this place, I thought, was a dumb idea. And too much work.
This month marks our fifth anniversary of having our storefront on Willard Street in Covington, Ky. And after five years of hard work and spending tons of money, I’m glad we did it (and so is Lucy, which is important).
The work is far from over. Later this year we plan to demolish the two sketchy bathrooms on the first floor and replace them with one nice bathroom (with a shower) and a small kitchen. And finish up some cosmetic work in the library and bench room.
After that, we’re going to replace the main bathroom on the third floor and then throw some money at the machine room to make it a nicer environment. Then some work on the facade to restore the main window bays to their historical appearance.
Then…. OK, I better stop typing out this list or I’m going to despair again.
Though the work never ends on an old building (this is our third one), we love this street, our neighbors and the city. We walk almost everywhere. Some days I forget where I parked my truck because I haven’t driven it for a week.
And despite the warnings from readers that I would hate living where I work, the opposite is true. I really like having the shop downstairs. I can cook our meals upstairs while I keep things going in the shop below. And I see my family far more, too. Plus, it’s less stress than maintaining both a residence and a business property – one electric bill, one insurance bill, one water bill.
It’s difficult to complain – until I look up at the rotten plaster under the library window.