When I started my woodworking shop way back in the early '80s, I had moved on from the music business (Rock Star Wannabe), and I rented a small studio with a single-car garage that had been enclosed and measured about 200 sq. ft. It had a concrete floor full of cracks, no heat, no water, no insulation and had one socket and one light bulb overhead, but at least it had a big window which gave me light! Also, the space was quite damp all of the time. However, I had no idea that I would be in the furniture restoration business for 35 years, given this was my starting point.
After a few months, I managed to find a basement in a commercial building that was 1500 sq. ft. that also had humidity problems, but thankfully I had a friend who knew how to remedy this, which in turn, made the landlord very happy, to say the least! By now, I was in full swing, had quit my full-time job and dove into antique finishing full-time, courtesy of a small loan, a lot of heartburn, and many sleepless nights. Fortunately for me, the antique business was exploding and I was in the right time and place to prosper. I wound up buying that 1500 sq. ft. property and staying there for about 27 years.
My next move came in 2008 when a very good friend came to the shop (this friend had, coincidentally, been my very first customer) to use my bandsaw. He used the bandsaw a lot, actually. This particular day, he said he wanted me to see an empty space down the street that he owned. Seems he was tired of stepping over or moving things out of the way in order to use the bandsaw, and had decided that I needed a new "spot" to work in that had plenty of room for the bandsaw and other equipment.
We walked into the front door of the property (approximately 2000 sq. ft. - not bad). Then, we went into the back room where there were two more rooms with a total of 6000 sq. ft. There was no way I needed that much space, because being a finishing shop and not a cabinet shop I didn't need as much equipment since finishing and restoration is mostly hand work. But he gave me such a good deal, I had to give it a go. Actually, having this much space was, for the most part, a dream come true.
Fast forward 8 very successful years and still not being able to find my "stuff" I decided to retire, sell the business and live happily ever after.....except...my client base didn't see it that way. The phone began to ring (and continues to ring), so I built a very small shop in my backyard. I still have one room to be closed in and then it will be complete.
Although I can now find all of my "stuff," based on past experience, I don't expect that to last long since I now have about 500 sq. ft. of luxurious, air-conditioned and heated space with no humidity problems and yes, the bandsaw is still with me.
Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at
Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:
March 18, 2020
Finishing the Finish
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