Well, the unrealistic expectations created by social media have finally gotten to me.
It’s not the “influencers” with the chiseled physiques who claim I can get shredded in just a week if I stop or start eating a certain food or make just three easy payments to get their top-secret superfood supplement.
Sure, it would be nice to drop a few pounds, but I’ve made peace with my dad bod.
And it’s not the mountain bikers who are constantly unboxing brand-new, top of the line bikes and riding them in bucket list locations.
OK, I might be a little envious of their gear, but I’ve put a lot of sweat equity into my own bicycles. And as far as bucket list destinations go, we happen to live in one.
It’s not even the folks with the picture-perfect vacation photos, or the guy who only seems to catch the biggest fish, or even the concerts or sporting events some people seem to always be at.
No, what’s been giving me angst has been photos of people’s home workshops.
I dabble in woodworking, though it’s been a while since I made it a free time priority. The closest I came was the spring of 2020, when I was “safer at home” and was able to dedicate some uninterrupted time to working on the cedar-strip canoe (that I’ve been working on for 20 years). It’s still not done – I went back to work, and woodworking went back to the backburner – but I have set a goal of doing more of it this year.
Anyway, at some point, I clicked on someone’s photo of their home workshop, and the algorithms now make sure that I see every home workshop photo ever posted. And quite frankly, I think some of those photos are more fake than anything else you can find on the internet.
First off, many of the photos look like something from a showroom. The lighting is perfect, there isn’t a speck of sawdust to be found, and every tool is perfectly aligned in some kind of rack, except for the one item on the workbench, displayed at just the right angle to imply that it was recently used.
Seriously? Maybe there’s people like that out there, but in my experience, the only way to have a workshop that looks like that is not to use it.
For starters, even when my workbench is perfectly clean, you can tell it’s been used. There’s almost 30 years of scrapes and gouges across the surface.
And speaking of clean, what’s a workshop without at least a few wood shavings in the corner? One of my uncles, who spent some time working as a luthier and carpenter, said in his dream house, he would have one room that he lived in, and every other room would be covered in wood shavings and sawdust.
I might need to contain my sawdust and wood shavings to the garage, but it certainly doesn’t bother me to have a pile or two giving the space some character. Besides, it gives me something to absorb the drips when I change the oil in my car or try to add tubeless sealant to my bike tires.
As for organizing your tools like they just came out of the package, I suppose you could do that, but I’ve always organized them by use. For example, my large crescent wrench goes in the drawer with my bike tools, because I always use it with my cassette removal tool. My hex wrenches are in the same drawer, but rather than being sorted from smallest to largest, the ones I use the most are on top. That way, I can grab them with one hand while trying to keep whatever part I’m working on from falling over with the other.
Like I said, I’d like to get back to doing some more woodworking in my free time. Before I do, I will need to spend some time cleaning up my workspace. My workbench is currently covered with ski waxing equipment and bike parts that I need to install by the time the snow melts.
While I’m at it, it would make sense to straighten up my tool chest, and put away the odds and ends that have accumulated from various home repair tasks. And, truth be told, my workbench really could use some better lighting.
Maybe once I get all that done, I should take a picture.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.