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Life with a New Workbench
By Highland Staff

A new workbench is a beautiful thing, full of possibility. Whether you have a self-made bench painstakingly crafted from centuries old oak or a store bought model made from plywood, my advice to you, with the new benchtop beaming its ultra-smooth perfection blindingly into your eyes, is to perform this simple initiation "task": Take a hammer and plant a resounding blow right in the middle of that top creating your very first, loud, proud and permanent "rosebud".

Why you ask, should you purposefully blemish such a beautiful thing? Because, like all true love that is lasting, time will bring to bear the inevitable outward changes of age. The changes may include (though certainly are not limited to): scrapes, scars, dings, wrinkles, warts, caps, crowns, lost hair, gained weight, graying, sagging, dragging and lagging. Since you cannot stop the unavoidable that comes from living, begin the journey with a bang and only look forward. Embrace the years of accumulated imperfections as visual evidence as proof of lives well lived. Lives crafted with purpose and passion that included taking risks and making mistakes, but were constructed nonetheless due to a strong, solid, workbench-like foundation of love. (Are you getting the workbench / interpersonal relationship analogy here?)

I hope you love your work bench, stay in purposeful relationship with it, work with it with vigor until you both become well worn and perhaps even a little long in the tooth, yet are still together side by side many years from now. (If we're fortunate to be around long enough, we'll all become long in the tooth. It sure beats an early death with perfect teeth.) Remember, the workbench is a tool to help you create the things you want to make in life. And during the journey, resist overprotecting what you love from the inevitable bumps and bruises. Fight the urge to keep things "perfect" because it's a trap that often stifles spontaneity and creativity. Life is messy, so be real and mess around with your workbench; it's perfectly OK to do so! Once you get your first boo-boo behind you, fill up your tool tray and let the good times roll!

And if you're having difficulty seeing the way forward because your new workbench is so dazzlingly brilliant to the eyes, its pristine condition calling out to you to fiercely guard it from taint and stain, just view these shop photos as a lesson in letting go. The grungy, well used, well loved, thoroughly messed-up, but still standing strong workbenches pictured here continue to inspire the students who get to spend time with them (and the instructors that teach on them).

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Like the surface of the moon, this top has been around a long while, enduring constant bombardment.

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The unkempt children. Well loved nonetheless.

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Circular saw witness mark. Measure twice, cut once, look around for witnesses.

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7 degree dovetail bit, with 0 degrees of bench separation.

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Déjà vu with Forstner bit.

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Too deep on the depth setting with a round-nose router bit (or bullish with a bull-nose bit).

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Who.. who, who, who cut nice & straight with a Festool track saw? Luckily for the blade, someone who first let the steel dogs out, that's who!

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Mortise router bit. We'd have to utilize forensics to determine if upcut or downcut.

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Teeth marks from Castor canadensis (Common name: half-round rasp)

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Bamboo wrapped handle
Steady eye follows the line
Teeth cut on pull stroke

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The router bit responsible was labeled as a "drifter", roaming aimlessly.

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All instructor marks were made with a permanent marker. All other marks possibly left by instructors have been redacted.

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1045 N. Highland Ave. NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306
Tel. 800-241-6748

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