Starting afresh tomorrow!

Published by Les on

Okay, let’s forget all the nonsense associated with this year and start tomorrow afresh. As if the spring and summer lockdown wasn’t difficult enough to ride out, and the autumn “Firebreak” equally tricky, the sudden announcement of early lockdown to end the year posed quite a problem.

The biggest issue for us was the delays through cancellations and postponements of tuition dates and I felt really sorry for some students who lost one, then another booking due to the restrictions imposed. In the early summer we made a whole range of changes to the teaching environment so that we could get the earliest, safe recommencement of teaching once lockdown restrictions were eased.

With tuition finally underway I took the plunge and bought a bright and shiny new lathe to replace my original lathe, which had been working hard for several years, but just one week into its working life, it failed. As if that wasn’t enough, it had just three week’s use after being repaired that it broke down again, and that time it had to be stripped down and taken back to the factory.

Finally we got the new lathe back into service, only to have a sudden announcement of a third lockdown and cessation of trading. However, every cloud has a silver lining and we took advantage of the quiet period between Christmas and New Year, by having a major refit of the workshop (again). I think that it’s a common issue with workshops such as mine, that they develop as new equipment moves in and as new working practices are introduced, but this is not the best way to organise a working environment!

I took the decision to rearrange the machinery layout so that those machines not used when I’m teaching, would be lined up along the far wall of the workshop, whilst those items most frequently used took place in a far better layout.

The first thing that returning students will notice, is that the two lathes have been placed next to each other, making things much easier for me when observing two students together, but also making the experience more pleasant for the students.

The huge range of tools that we normally use (or just refer to) used to be arranged on the worktop, with the sharpening systems in front of them, so that all had to move to make room for the second lathe. The tools all went into storage racks on the wall, whilst the sharpening systems, together with my trusted heavy, cast iron disk-and-belt sander moved onto a new bench which will usually sit in the middle of the workshop, where the bench-saw used to be. This new bench is fitted with heavy-duty, braked castors, so if I have 2 students together, it can always be rolled out of the way to make more space.

One new addition to the inventory of equipment, is a vacuum pump and chucks, which is mainly a toy for me to play with, rather than for use by the students.

To achieve all this, almost every fitted cupboard in the workshop had to be emptied, removed from its wall-space and then re-fixed in a new position, so it’s been a major undertaking which has lasted four days, but it’s been really worth it.

So here’s looking forward to 2021; I trust that new students will be impressed with the workshop layout, and that returning students will appreciate and favour all the changes.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda….Happy New Year!


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