Don’t be a messy Marvin – FineWoodworking

Woodworking classes rather remind me of eating at a good self-service cafeteria/delicatessen. If you’re a decent person (and I think most of us are), you are respectful of the people who work there, and you treat the space with at least a modicum of social decorum: inside voices; no flinging your food about; keep your hands to yourself; tidy up after yourself; don’t put your dirty trays on your neighbor’s table.

In other words, try your best to be a good citizen and leave the space as you found it.

Be considerate!

In our shop (and I’m guessing most other shops), that equates to: putting the clamps back where you found them (and ideally, backing out the screws so they’re ready for the next person); not using tools that aren’t yours without permission; cleaning off the glue-bottle tips after you use them; no food waste in the bench room; putting dirty coffee cups in the dishwasher; putting used glue brushes in the dishwasher (yes, they’re cheap acid brushes but yes, we’re parsimonious—and don’t like adding to the landfill); putting the toilet lid down (’cause cats); and, well…the list goes on and on. We hope you treat our shop as if it’s your home…assuming that, unlike me, you share that home with other people who don’t like cleaning up after you.

It can be difficult in the midst of woodworking excitement and trying to get projects done to remember all the “rules,” especially if they’re different than the “rules” by which you might already live. If you could see my shop at home…but I shouldn’t show it because it could be taken as license to morph into Pig-Pen.

I have to constantly refer to the Class Cleanup note on my phone so that I can do my best to return the shop to how Christopher Schwarz likes it (he admits it’s a compulsion). And I’m so anxious about not making him crazy—I’m afraid of getting kicked out*—that I in turn get angsty when classes are messy. And classes are always messy; it’s unavoidable. No matter how much people try to help set things in order, after every class, I have to back out the clamp handles and hang them in the correct order.

The list:

  1. Vacuum entire bench room – below benches, bench shelves, and workshop floor
  2. Tools, clamps, glue and jigs put back in place
  3. Scraps cut down and in burn bin
  4. Coffee mugs in dishwasher
  5. Food waste disposed of in outside cans
  6. Any full (or nearly full) trash cans emptied
  7. Clean whiteboard
  8. Glue pot off
  9. Temp down/up
Chris' bench
I’m shocked – shocked, I say! – that there are shavings on the floor in front of Chris’s bench. (He’s in the midst of a project, when such aberrations are allowed.)

Do what you can, when you can

I wish I could make my anxiety last across the seven miles between the shop and my house (and all the way down to my basement). I would love for my shop to be as neat and tidy as we keep the bench room at Lost Art Press, but I don’t have that gene. My only must-follow shop rules are to sweep up all sawdust and shavings, lest the cat mistake such detritus as a litter box. (Or don’t let Olivia in the basement.)

But when I’m in anyone else’s space, I try my best to be a good citizen and leave the space as I find it. I know I don’t achieve that, though. No matter in whose shop I might be taking a class, I know some of my entrance fee is going toward paying the janitor. And in my classes, some of the fee goes toward my anxiety meds…because no matter how strict I am about keeping the place tidy and how much I clean after students go home, it still won’t be clean enough. But I sure wish someone would invent a self-cleaning glue-bottle tip—that would be a great start.

OK – it’s not really that bad. But in comparison…

* He won’t kick me out. We’ve worked together for more than two decades so he is well aware of my inability to be neat and tidy. I just have to confine it to my desk area, and Chris averts his eyes therefrom. But I worry nonetheless.

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