Here is my Woodturning Shop!
by J. Temple Blackwood
Note: click any picture to see a larger version.
I started Highlands Woodturning with my first commercial turning job in 1971, on the porch of our home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I had been teaching myself to turn for nearly three years, and a local lumberyard salesman asked me to copy 106 stair spindles for an historic house renovation project. Steadily from then I found time for the "paying work" and added to my skills and tools moving two years later into a 10'X10' Sears Tin shed with a new Rockwell lathe, Sears bandsaw, grandfather's tool bench, a 6" Toastmaster grinder, and a sheet metal woodstove.
By 1978 I had participated in annual craft shows offering some items for sale, demonstrating, and teaching in addition to the steady architectural/commercial work. By 2000 (and three shops later) in a much larger shop, I was able to expand my teaching and offer "shop time" for advanced turners who did not have the space or equipment available to them. Now, in Maine, Highlands Woodturning is an active business in the community with an annual business activity that is about 1/3 commercial/architectural, 1/3 exploring gallery and show artistic turnings, and 1/3 teaching/demonstrating/shop time. Needless to say, in a small community there are many opportunities for volunteer/donations.
After my first wife, Julie, died in 2007, I travelled north to visit our coastal farm and our oldest son in Penobscot, Maine for the summer (as I did every summer with her there since 1968). In Maine, I reconnected with Julie's long-time childhood friend, Victoria in a wonderful way, and decided that instead of building a shop and apartment for myself on the farm with my son and his family, I would be well-advised to marry Victoria. Her home (a genuine Austrian Chalet that she and her first husband brought in containers from Austria in 1988 and constructed on her family property about a mile from my son's farm) is magnificently built of locked dovetails. The next winter while I was still working in Maryland, I was able to buy the property next door. With my brother-in-law and friends, I began renovating (built-over) the old garage/shed to create my new shop (still a work-in-progress) for Highlands Woodturning to move into as I retired and moved permanently from Maryland to Castine, Maine in summer 2009.
The 22' X 28' garage bay remains a continuing construction project that includes additional display space, a small office cubical, and general tool storage, the critical airtight woodstove and enclosed restroom, a standing Craftsman 60gal twin cylinder Air Compressor, and workspace for Grizzly 10" Table Saw, Hitachi 8" sliding compound Miter Saw, 6" Jet and Craftsman Joiners, 7" Williams & Hussy Planer/Joiner, Grizzly sliding compound Drill Press, 6" & 9" belt and disc floor sander, and a wide variety of handtools: antique, new, and power. Again, most of the floor tools are on wheels to allow us to use the garage bay for vehicles, John Deere F1145 diesel tractor & plow in winter.
The uninsulated new north shed shelters some of my collected turning wood from the sun, adds storage for the heavy outdoor hand and power tools – two Stihl chainsaws and sharpening station, and occasionally shelters my GMC 2500HD truck when there is room. It also allows me to provide a covered garage for my 94 year-old tenant who lives in the rental house on the property.
I have the posts in for the south shed-roof that I plan to build this summer to shelter the 1964 International 424 tractor and the firewood with which I heat my shop, loft/office, and our home.
Within the 24 X 38' turning room I have eight lathe stations for students, two sharpening stations, three bandsaws, and three workbenches. My Bridgewood dust collection is enclosed in an insulated closet that is vented to the outside to reduce noise and excess dust. My Jet air filter helps move and clean the air between the two main rooms on the south end with help from a ceiling mounted fan at the north doorway. This serves to blow the uncollected sanding dust away from the students toward the filters. Almost all of the equipment is on wheels except for the Bridgewood bandsaw and three bigger lathes: Woodfast, General 260, and a 15' long Powermatic 4224. This allows me to move larger projects into position on my hydraulic rolling table.
The upstairs loft/office includes a full bathroom, two small bedrooms, and a large living area/office – also heated with an airtight woodstove -- with a kitchenette where my other sons with their families and friends can stay for prolonged visits. Mainly this serves as my office area and private collection gallery.
You can email Temple at
You see more of Temple's work at his personal website,
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