Founded in 1983, SAWS is celebrating its 31st year of existence. SAWS is a non-profit Society located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Its mandate is to promote fine woodworking to the public and to raise interest in SAWS by encouraging membership.

May 2014 - Shop Tours

This is an opportunity for members to visit the workshops of others and to exchange ideas.

Details of the open workshops including locations and times will be sent to all members via e-mail closer to the date.

Saturday, May 24 was the day of the annual SAWS shop tours. It's always one of my favourite meetings of the year, a time to see how others set up their shops (photos on next pages) and a time to just hang out and talk wood. Of course we get to do this at regular meetings, but the tour provides much more time.
This year I opened my shop to the tour. The only disadvantage of this was that I didn't get to see the other shops that were open in the same time slot as mine. A big advantage was that I got around to the projects I haven't had time to do, and the shop gets a pretty good cleaning.
I didn't keep close track, but I estimate about 20 people visited me during the morning. The conversation was wide-ranging and I found out some things about my own shop that I didn't know. The talk turned to dust collectors and I showed folks the set-up I have in a small room off the garage for the dust collector and the compressor. Someone mentioned that he had collapsed a plastic garbage can by using a cyclone lid on it and asked if I had ever had the problem. I had never thought of it before, so I went into the shop and turned on the dust collection. The watchers assured me that the lid got sucked down tight, but the garbage can held firm.
I have a SawStop® Contractor Saw so there was much discussion about the merits and disadvantages of it. We talked about the dust collection for the table saw, which I find to be less than ideal, and I noticed that the throat plate was higher on one side than the other. I don't know why I hadn't noticed that when I used the saw. Anyway, it was an easy fix and I was pleased to have the opportunity to see my shop with new eyes. All in all, I'm pretty happy with my shop except, of course, no shop is ever big enough.
In the afternoon I visited Gary Gunthorpe's and Andy Lockhart's shops. Gary's shop is a room in his basement. It's compact and he has all the tools he regularly uses within a few steps. Each one of us sets up shop for the way we work and Gary noted that one of the best things he ever did was to put a shelf above his bench to hold his planes. That way he can use a plane and put it back so his bench stays clear. I envy his organization. When I'm working I have planes, saws, plans and bits of wood spread all over my bench and I fear if I had a shelf for my planes they would end up on the bench anyway.
Andy's shop, in contrast to Gary's, is huge and very few of us wouldn't envy Andy’s space near Priddis with a gorgeous view of the mountains right outside. Andy has a very well equipped shop but the thing that really made me drool was his collection of wood. He has exotic woods in boards the size of which most of us can't even imagine. One of the projects Andy is working on is a dining room table. Whereas I wouldn't be able to even get a dining room table in my shop, the space it takes up in Andy's is hardly noticeable.
We rounded out the day in Andy's shop with snacks and refreshments. I enjoyed seeing the shops, talking wood and meeting Leslie Diegel who does such a great job on this newsletter. It was an extremely satisfying day, thanks to everyone who participated in the day's events.
Marian Hood, Reporter
Brian Graham, Photographer

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