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Here's My Workshop!

Richard Korte
Olympia, WA

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

I designed and built my 28' by 34' workshop in 2004. Prior to that, I used a Foredom tool and a Shop Vac to carve duck decoys in my living room, and needless to say, the dust problem was bad. I laid out the foundation 30 feet from our garage and got to work. It took about 3 months to totally finish. My shop has painted concrete floors and 10' ceilings, with an 8' garage door to allow larger tools, boats, and projects to be moved in and out. A back door allows access to a 28' by 12' lean-to, in which I store my fishing boat and a few yard machines. Someday I'll pour a slab and wall it in.

My father instilled a love of the outdoors and woodworking in me at an early age. He operated a Chevron service station in Spokane, Washington, and whenever we needed something for the house, my dad built it in a tiny basement workshop. I loved to spend hours in the shop, watching and helping him, and I always feel he's watching over me and the projects I attempt.

I did all the work on the shop by myself, except for lifting the roof trusses into place and hanging the 12' sections of sheet rock. I wired it so that outlets were always handy, including many 220 volt outlets for tools I may acquire in the future. I started with my trusty Delta 10" Unisaw and a Delta 12" Bandsaw which was broken in two during an earthquake and welded back together by a local metal shop. I made Norm Abram's Router Table in Mission style and added a 12" Disc Sander on my own cabinet in the same style. I also have a Grizzly 17" Bandsaw, a Grizzly 12" Drum Sander, a Delta 13" Planer, a Shop Fox Oscillating Sander , a Delta Drill Press, a Grizzly Drum/Flap sander, and a Grizzly 6" Belt Sander.

Now days, my main focus is building wooden boats, although I still design and build many longbows and hundreds of wooden arrows. I also make snowshoe furniture, cowboy furniture, Northwest Coast Indian masks and canoe paddles, duck and shorebird decoys, and whirligigs. I restore Stanley Hand Planes and old Bear recurve bows.

I received some advice from a woodshop teacher when I first started teaching school back in the 70's. He told me to purchase one tool a month, and to save a little each month in a "big tool fund". Hammer, hand saw, tape measure, square, hand drill and bits all found their home in my toolbox. Back in those days, a big tool to me on a teachers' salary meant an electric drill or a jig saw, but slowly I accumulated a pretty fair batch of goodies. I postponed my larger power tool purchases until I moved into our first home, a tiny A frame. Then I bought the 12" Delta Bandsaw, a Sears Radial Arm Saw, and a Sears Jointer. I kept them outside under a carport until I built my first shop, a tiny 12' by 18' structure which was the birthplace of many wooden decoys (I carved, my wife painted). We attended many shows and decoy gatherings on the West coast for years. Then I went from decoys to duckboats and canoes, and now I mainly enjoy the challenges of building wooden boats.

Below is the front of my workshop on a beautiful fall morning! The Delta Bandsaw was the first large tool I bought. It's over 40 years old and has survived being broken in two at the base during a 6.8 earthquake here in Olympia, WA. I still use it almost daily to cut out my bows. The old Craftsman Shop Vacuum is the most used tool in my shop. There's a Delta Mortise machine under the white cloth. Mortises were used to put all the snow shoe furniture together. Ken Korte, my father who started me in woodworking, owned a Chevron service station in Spokane. That sign that hung over the entrance to his gas station is one of my most treasured possessions.

Below is a photo of my shop in action. I just finished building a Barnegat Bay Sneakbox out of Red Cedar strips over laminated Ash ribs. The above-average amount of dust in the shop was caused by hours of sanding the epoxy covered fiberglass on the boats' hull.

Below is a photo of the East wall, showing the large storage shelves I built of Pine. It holds many of the items I use daily in my woodworking projects. Notice the plastic storage boxes underneath the Miter Saw Table. I store all my nuts, bolts, screws, nails, and assorted hardware items there. Very handy! The red Craftsman Vacuum is hooked up to the Miter Saw and turns on automatically when the saw turns on. I use the Dewalt Planer on my boat and for furniture making. The drawers and cabinets under the Miter Table hold all of my hand tools and power tools like sanders, saws, drills, etc.

I use the Shop Fox Oscillating Sander in shaping the risers in my longbows and recurves. I built the oak router table in Mission style from Norm Abram's New Yankee Workshop plans. My Delta Drill Press and the Grizzly Flap Sander are used almost daily. I made all the arrows shown on the rack. Many are made of Port Orford Cedar, and some are made of Douglas Fir which I shaped using a simple jig and my router table.

Below are a few more projects that I have made in my shop. The first is a Northwest Coast Indian bear mask that I carved out of old growth Red Cedar. It is currently awaiting its paint job. Above the mask is a collection of old Stanley planes which I restore and use in my wooden boat making. The bear mask is sitting on a 12" Disc Sander which I built and finished in Mission style, and another 12" Disc Sander, a Delta, is to the left. One is loaded with a 60 grit disc and the other with 100 grit, and both are used in my bow making. The cabinet in the corner is made of Cedar fence boards I found floating on a local lake after a storm, and it stores all of my fly fishing reels and fly boxes.

I made the snowshoe chairs below when I built a western-themed drift boat a few years ago. They are laminated Ash with nylon webbing, with several coats of polyurethane, making them look like rawhide. I collect and restore old duck decoys and sold many of my own carved decoys throughout the years. I love to build traditional archery gear, including longbows, recurve bows, and Port Orford Cedar arrows.

Below is a photo of two of my latest recurve bows. The are replicas of the famous 1960 Bear Archery Kodiak Deluxe, a classic bow which was only manufactured for one year. The top bow riser is made of black and white ebony combined with Gaboon ebony and Yellowheart. The lower bow, and left handed model, is made of Bocote and Padauk. The imperfections are due to the fact that they have received two coats of spray-on epoxy. Now I'll sand them both and spray them each with three more coats.

This photo shows three of my earlier bows. The top and bottom bows are the longbows I use for hunting, and the take-down bow in the middle I built just for fun.

I built this Red Cedar strip driftboat several years ago after being inspired by Thomas Molesworth, an old-time western furniture maker. We have taken this 14' driftboat to several wooden boat shows here in the Pacific Northwest.

Here's my latest boat, a Glen-L designed 17' jet sled with a conventional 60 hp Mercury motor and an 8 hp Mercury kicker motor. I use it mainly for lake fishing and salmon fishing here in Washington State's Puget Sound. It's made of marine plywood on convential fir frames with Ash trim. All the white areas consist of a product called Raptor truck bed liner, a product which can be tinted any color and easily sprayed on any surface.

If you have any questions you can email Richard at rjkorte@comcast.net .

Want to see more shops? Check out our Shops Gallery , featuring many of the shops that we have featured in previous editions of Wood News.

Would you like for your shop to appear in this column? We invite you to SEND US PHOTOS of your woodworking shop along with captions and a brief history and description of your woodworking. (Email photos at 800x600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store credit redeemable towards merchandise if we show your shop in a future issue.

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