Why You Need A Workshop… Even a portable one

Recently, I spoke at #AionCon 2020 on the subject of craftsmanship.

This is something that I’ve written about in the Aion newsletter and in my eBook subtitled “The Way of the Craftsman”.

One of the things that I wanted to explore in more detail is the idea of the workshop.

As a craftsman – and ladies this includes you – you need a workshop, studio, or a laboratory. 

This is something that, deep down, you know you need.

Perhaps if you are an evil genius, you would prefer an underground lair in the side of a hollowed-out volcano on a deserted island.

But the idea is the same.

Also, in my book and elsewhere, I’ve criticised what some have called “the factory model” of education.

Instead of this, I think we need to return to the workshop (or the studio or laboratory) as a better way of teaching and learning. 

This sounds idealistic.

I realise that. 

And I know that when you are starting out in your trade or craft – your workshop or workspace has to be practical. 

So I want you to think about how you can make do with what you’ve got.

For a long time, my workshop was the dining room table. 

Then it was a bag of tools and a cardboard box. 

Now I have a workbench in the back of my garage. 

I built this workbench myself from discarded wooden pallets which I picked up for free. 

This meant I only paid for some screws, glue and four sturdy castor wheels to go on the bottom.

As with anything, there were pros and cons to this. 

When I worked on the kitchen table, I felt I had integrated my craftwork with the rest of the house. 

But of course, I would have to pack it up if we wanted to eat at the table (as my wife often reminded me every night at dinner time). 

The advantage with a bag of tools and a sturdy cardboard box was that I could take everything with me anywhere. 

The disadvantage again was the continual need to pack up and set up the next time.

Now that I have a dedicated workbench and cupboard in my garage, I find it hard to keep these spaces organised. 

So, this year, I have a project planned where I can mount my tools on the wall above the workbench. 

I also have a separate office at home.

But my dream is to one day have a full-on studio or workshop that combines office and craft-working space with lots of room for tools and projects and storage. 

(In my mind, this includes a forge so I can make custom machetes) 

But, let’s get to the point of all this… 

Having a workshop, or setting up some arrangement so that you feel like you have one, will help you learn and grow in different ways.

It’s also likely that you need to have something like a workshop – or a studio or a laboratory – in place before you really get serious about that hobby, side-hustle or passion project you’ve been thinking about for so long. 

So… here are some questions to ponder:

  1. Do you have a workshop? If yes, does it need a revamp, a new paint job or at least a tidy up? 
  2. If not, do you have a space in your house that could be repurposed as a workshop, studio or lab?
  3. Or could you create a portable workshop, studio or lab that you can pack away? What would be a clever way to do this?

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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