I am man, hear me roar!

Originally Published 9th February 2018

I was looking at Pintrest earlier, it’s the first time I’ve been on the site in ages, and it immediately lead me to Amazon, and then to Screwfix, as I pondered whether to spend £100 on a new self-centring chuck for my wood lathe – that’s the reason I’ve not been on Pintrest for a while. Whenever I do I get an urge to make something but the thing I’d like to make now (a new Router Table) would take me longer than the time I have remaining before my operation, and even if I pushed it i’d only just get in done in time.

I love working with wood and wish I’d discovered it sooner. I spent a few years installing decking either on my own or with my chaps and whilst I enjoyed doing that, I never really ‘enjoyed‘ it. Prior to being self-employed I did some other things, some of those things resulted in injuries and a fear of balloons [don’t ask] and other things, didn’t, but none of the things included anything with wood, which is a massive shame.

I have my own workshop now. It’s fully kitted out with every imaginable machine and gadget. I’ve even got a coffee machine in there, because I like coffee and dislike walking. I literally spent thousands on the tools in there and reinvested the money from my Landscaping tools that I was forced to sell. My Cement Mixer became a Pillar Drill, my Concrete Breaker became a Bandsaw, that kind of thing… I’ve spent many happy hours wandering about making stuff, cutting digits off, and generally being a bloke. I’m worried though, what happens after my leg has fallen off, will I still be able to do what I like to do or is that me buggered?

I have a couple of stools in my workshop and Chris encourages me by saying that I can ‘perch’ on a stool whilst doing what I do, but it’s not that easy. I wouldn’t want to sit whilst using my lathe, as that would put my face directly in line with the lump of wood that i’m attacking with a sharp blade, at 1750rpm… I also wouldn’t want to be sat whilst trying to cut something intricate out on my scroll saw, and I managed to mangle a hand whilst using what I now call “scary saw” so I’ll be damned if I’m going to put my face in the line of fire and get closer to the dangerous bits! No, I need to be able to stand up in order to use my tools correctly, and therein lies my problem because I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand, at least not to begin with.

Next week sees me beginning the task of closing my workshop for the foreseeable future. I’ve already got rid of all useless scrap wood and rubbish from in and around, and the next job is to clean all small tools, putting them into their respective carry cases and getting them into the house where they’ll be safe and warm. The big items, the stuff that’s not easy to carry, is going to be bolted to the workbenches. I’m going to clean all of the machines and then they’ll get a good squirt of WD40 before being put to bed. Each item will be wrapped in a few layers of plastic wrap in order to keep any damp out. All plugs will be taken out, the power will be switched off, and the Spiders will be allowed to roam free. I don’t know when I’ll see the inside of my shop again, and I don’t know if I’ll ever enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting with a brew, listening to Pop Master on Radio 2 as I take a break from making whatever it is i’m making. I hope it’s not long though, I hope I can do that again one day.

The other thing I’m concerned about is my manliness… we went to B&Q earlier and I needed to grab 4 x 100L bags of Bark Chips. I grabbed a trolley, slung the bags on, pulled it all to the checkouts and then slung it into the car. When we got home I reversed up to the fence, got out and threw the bags over the fence into the area of the garden they’re needed for – is that the last time I do that? I’m a big bloke, my knees are ruined because I spent my formative years, and a lot more besides, running about on a rugby pitch. I also did a job that impacted very heavily on my knees for a few years and when that ended I moved in to landscaping and spent another bunch of years lifting heavy things and laying paving slabs. I’ve always been a big strong bloke and I enjoy being a big strong bloke, I’m not at all sure that I’ll be much use not being a big strong bloke. It’s a real concern.

Update – 24th May 2019

It’s over a year since my operation and I’m pleased to say that my fears were unfounded. I didn’t go anywhere near my workshop once the operation had been completed, because I couldn’t get over the lawn and bark chips to get there and even if I could I had a 12″ step up to negotiate and then wouldn’t have been able to get in there in my wheelchair.
My workshop was replaced with a bigger version when the garden was redesigned in January 2019. I now have a level-access garden which means getting there [to the workshop] is easy and the workshop itself is bigger and has double doors.

Work continues as if nothing has happened, it’s a bit harder to do some things but in many ways it’s easier too. I’m happy though, I get to do what I enjoy most and not many people can say that.

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