AW #009 – 5 Productivity Tips to Get Your Woodworking Shop Ready for a Busy Holiday Season


AW Episode #009 – 5 Productivity Tips to Get Your Woodworking Shop Ready for a Busy Holiday Season

Welcome to another episode of the Avid Woodworker!  I am glad you are back, and I am glad to be back behind the microphone and back in my shop.  In case you did not know, I actually record my podcast in my shop.  Using scrap wood and some wheels I salvages from some old chairs, I made a rolling recording studio.  When I am woodworking, I roll it into another room that I can shut the door and keep the dust away from the audio equipment.   It was something I threw together really quickly.  I need to find a day to finish the cart – put some finishing touches on it.  I also need to paint the MDF.

Speaking of MDF, in episode #008, I asked the question is working with MDF really woodworking.  When I was doing some research for that episode, I found out something I did not know, and that was that the MDF slowly released certain chemicals, including Formaldehyde.  But, painting the MDF will seal it so it does not release into the air.  Needless to say, I am looking at all the MDF items in my shop and I am going to start painting all of them, out of an abundance of caution . . . not to mention, I have a couple dozen of half used cans of paint that I would like to use up and get rid of.

Essentially, I indicated that I thought that working with MDF was really woodworking.  I had mentioned that I did not think that you could create useful works of art from it, but then my wife indicated that she thought the train bed I made for my son was a useful work of art, so, maybe I was wrong.  After all, beauty, and art, is in the eyes of the beholder.

Ok, so it is the beginning of September.  Halloween is nearly 2 months away, Thanksgiving and Christmas 3 and 4 months away respectively.  Why I am starting getting ready now?  Because this is the time when I have the most going on:

–        In September, Cub Scouts is really starting to get into full swing, which means camping every month, so there goes at least one weekend a month until December.

–        My Wife and I have volunteered to lead a marriage group called Thrive at our Church that will meet at our house every Sunday afternoon.  This Starts in September and runs until December.

–        In October, I have Halloween, which I go crazy for, and the actual Cubmobile event.  I actually start putting up my Christmas lights during this time as well.

–        In November, we have Thanksgiving, and I have created a goal of having my Walnut Dining Room table ready to eat on by Thanksgiving.  During this entire month, I am trying to also set up my yard for my Christmas decorations so that I can turn on all the outside lights right after Thanksgiving (which I have never been able to do before).  We are trying to have our annual Christmas party much earlier.

–        During Christmas, in addition to working on the Christmas lights, I am usually turning a number of pens and bottle stoppers that have been special requests

–        And, of course, let’s not forget that I am a partner in one of the largest family law firms in Georgia.  Not trying to brag.  Just saying.  I have a lot on my plate, so I have to get my shop ready for the season, because my shop is where it all happens (I even work on my law firm projects in my shop).  The shop is the nerve center of the whole coordinating operation (or operations, depending on how you look at it).  So, that is why I have to I have to make sure my shop is ready for the season.

–        Oh yea, and I have to work in my podcasts every week.

5 Productivity Tips to Get Your Woodworking Shop Ready for a Busy Holiday Season

  1. Calendar – Set up a place in your shop where you can put a paper calendar on the wall.
    1. I covered a wall in my shop with six months at a time (I had taken down August at the time of the picture.  That way you can really look at out and be fair to your woodworking projects – you don’t want to rush your projects.
    2. Put everything you know of on your calendar.  Stand back and look at it.  What do you want to accomplish with your woodworking, during that time period.  Just remember, often home projects take about 2x longer than you think they should, because, frankly, life happens.  And, you should not put woodworking above your family.
    3. Now that you know what is coming up in the next six months, you can focus on the set up of your shop for the next six months
    4. IMG_2848 IMG_2844
  2. Check your blades and tools
    1. Now is the time to really check all your blades.  Are your saw blades sharp?  Is it time to replace a worn out Jig saw blade?
    2. Drill bits
    3. Router bits
  3. Check your supplies – now is the time to order.  You don’t want to be scrambling in the middle of a project because you ran low on a species of wood, screws, nails, glue, etc.
    1. Since you have set up your calendar of events and laid out what you want to accomplish during this time period, you should think about whether you have everything you need to accomplish those goals.
    2. Make sure you have everything.
    3. For example – for my Christmas yard art that I make out of plywood, I like to paint them in white so they stand out.  I need exterior grade paint that is mold and fungus resistant.
    4. If you are like me and like to turn pens and other items and sell at Christmas for unique gifts, be looking in the sales at your local Woodcraft and Rockler stores for sales so you can stock up on your turning supplies.
  4. Trash bags (throw things away so they do not get in the way).
  5. Now is the time to do a mini-simplification, or at least clean house.
    1. During this period, I have found that the most important thing is room to move.
    2. So, I look at my shop plan from last time I simplified my shop and looked at it again.  I had not looked at it in a while, and the first thing that jumped out at me was that I had forgotten that I changed it up.   As I indicated in episodes 3-5, I went through a whole simplification process in my shop back in December.  What I did not mention was that when I hit the cleaning house phase, I cleaned house in the entire basement, not just my shop area.  I opened up two entire rooms I had not thought about using before.  So, one of them became my wood storage area.  That freed up room in my shop.
    3. I started the simplification process again, but this time it was much shorter, but I still filled up two huge trash cans again with stuff I did not get rid of last time.
    4. I also like to have all my tools and cabinets mobile.  I made some of them mobile.

Before the Simplification









Cleaning up my shop has really gotten a bunch of distraction out of my mind.  It was really bugging me and I could not even record this episode until I had finished a certain level of simplification.  Now that I have accomplished 90% of what I wanted to do on my shop (at this stage – there is still much more to do), I have freed up my thoughts to think about upcoming podcasts.

–        Dust Collection – Simple things  you can do

–        How to build a scarecrow out of tree branches and have that one of a kind decoration in your neighborhood.

–        How to build a Cub Mobile for your children, grandchildren, or cub-scouts.

–        Using woodworking tools and skills to take your Christmas display to the next level.

–        Making a dining room table out of wooden slabs

–        Digital tools used to keep track of woodworking

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