The Five Foot Shop

It’s been about a year-and-a-half since my shop size got cut in half. It presently occupies a one-car garage and I must say that I’m quite happy with the space. All my machines made the move, including my sliding table saw, 18″ bandsaw, jointer, planer, drill press and dust collector, but I did give up my tall joinery workbench and a lot of wood storage.

With this particular machine layout, I can work quite efficiently on material as long as five feet for any machine, and can handle longer material with handheld tools. All this without a mobile base under each machine.

In an article for Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement Magazine, I explore the concept of a shop optimized to handle materials up to five feet long and provide examples of how it works in practice. Read it in the annual Small Shops issue (June/July 2017).

You’ve probably noticed that things have been quieter around here than usual, but don’t worry – I’ve enlisted a new helper. Once he’s fully trained, things should be back up to speed. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

News About Woodworking Magazines

The December/January issue of Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement is now on newsstands.  If you’ve been following my blog for at least a year, one of the three pictures at the top of the cover should look familiar.


On the Contents page, we see that I have an article, Make a Wooden Bow on page 16.  Also, on page 28 is another of my articles, Shop Skills: Working Without Numbers.


This video preview shows some of the issue’s content in a different format.  (2:29).

In related news, Woodwork, my other favourite magazine, is now on newsstands.  Currently, only one issue is printed per year.  I highly recommend that you find yourself a copy.

Dale J. Osowski’s copy of Woodwork


Published in May 2007 Issue of Canadian Home Workshop

Last summer, Jodi Avery MacLean, the Managing Editor of Canadian Home Workshop Magazine (CHW) contacted me asking if I was interested in building them a whirligig.  Truth be told, I was hoping that they’d ask me to build them a piece of furniture such as a side table or dresser, but I was excited nonetheless and promptly responded with a resounding “yes”.  I took a few days to get my grand idea together.  I was familiar with whirligigs though I had never built one.  I knew that there were two main types:  simple and complex mechanical.  Simple whirligigs typically consist of a body with two propellers on the sides for arms or legs.  Mechanical whirligigs use a propeller connected to a camshaft to control one or more characters and are much more elaborate and time consuming to construct.

Given that this is my first assignment for the magazine, I knew that I had to make a strong impression and immediately cast aside the idea of a simple whirligig.  I scan through the books in my local library revealed no shortage of ideas and plans for a mechanical whirligig.  However, trying to impress, I decided to design my own whirligig from scratch.  My grand idea was to have a scene from the wood shop:  one woodworker uses a jack plane to surface a board while the other chops a mortise in another board.  With the idea fresh in my mind, I drew up a quick sketch which I later turned into a 3D model using a CAD program called Rhinoceros 3D.  I sent a screenshot of my idea off to Jodi to be reviewed and turned my attention to working out the details.

The building went surprisingly well, although it took a bit of patience to get everything working smoothly.  The idea of having my project published, however, was more than enough of an incentive to keep working at it (If you want the details of how to build it, check out the magazine!).

Once the building was complete, the writing began.  I began by making detailed notes, documenting every step involved.  Then I took those notes and converted them into sentences and paragraphs – the first draft was complete!  Eight drafts later, I had an article which I was completely happy with.  I sent a copy off to Jodi at Canadian Home Workshop electrically and mailed the whirligig across the country from Port Moody, BC to Toronto, ON.  Upon receipt of my handcrafted work of art, the staff at Canadian Home Workshop were very impressed.  Mission accomplished!

About a month and a half ago, I started working together with Jodi Avery MacLean and Steve Maxwell (CHW’s technical editor) to edit the article and illustrations.  I compared Draft 9 with the final draft and only found a handful of changes the folks a CHW had made.  And each edit was minor – adding or changing a word here and there.  This meant that the nine drafts I had meticulously pored over for so many hours had been worth every minute, with the result being an article which I can call my own.  It was just a matter of time before the magazine with my article hit newsstands nationwide – and that time has arrived!

Get your copy today!