Shop Notebook

August 3, 2010

Sucking in radon and making saws takes a lot of concentration. It’s nice to have a shop notebook handy where I can write things down so I don’t have to think about them anymore. I do this all of the time. It helps me focus on my work without either forgetting whatever it was that was worth writing down.

The shop notebook isn’t always the place where the most important things get written down—I don’t need to write that stuff down. That stuff gets written straight into the saws. But even so, and perhaps for that very reason, the notebook has a unique proximity to my work—not the most important stuff, but indispensable stuff. New ideas, sketches, problems and how I solved them, nitty gritty details about more peripheral things I don’t have occasion to make every day.

I can’t imagine that anyone who spends a significant amount of time in their shop wouldn’t benefit from keeping a notebook around. It’s amazing how clearly you can focus on your work when you have someplace to unload your thoughts.


  1. Wow Andrew, it always amazed me of how organized you are, I need to try to keep in mind to put on paper what I have in mind…

    • Hi David,

      You know I wish I was more organized, but the notebook helps me in that regard, that’s for sure. Before I had the notebook I wrote things down on loose slips of paper, and you can imagine how well that worked! Keeping track of those loose bits of paper was a real job. The notebook is much better. I bet you would benefit quite a bit from one yourself—a good place to develop your ideas of things you have in mind to make!


  2. Hi Andrew!

    A great thing to do, writing thoughts and ideas in a journal. Leonardo DeVinci did that too. He’s an old friend of mine. I call him Leo. I think he helps me solve problems in my sleep. He was the guy who painted The Last Supper, among many other things of course. Einstien was a retard compared to Leo.

    I have another friend who lives nearby who keeps a journal and carries it where ever he goes. It’s like a woman’s purse to him. We’ll be having lunch at a restaurant for instance, in the middle of a conversation, he’ll whip out his journal and quickly write something in it, then go right on talking.

    While digging through old boxes of stuff I’ve had stored for many years, I sometimes run across things I had written many many years ago. It’s always interesting and sometimes surprising. My younger mind seems to have been much keener than it is now.

    Keep in mind, your journal may be published sometime in the future. People should be aware that someone of your skill level was here for a time and did some great work.

    Take care,

    • Hi Marv,

      So what are you saying, my notebook is a purse? 🙂 Really, though, thanks for the kind words and the interesting tidbits about yourself. Can’t say that I’m surprised you’ve got a trove of interesting old ideas at your place. Doesn’t surprise me one bit.


      • No, Andrew, didn’t mean to imply that YOUR journal is a purse but my friend never went anywhere without his journal just like a woman won’t even go out to the garbage can without her purse. My friend is a very intelligent guy even with his purse journal. He is responsible for getting me into using computers back in 1994. He even taught me a Auto-Cad type drawing program and spent weeks at my house at night teaching me something he had taught himself. Took him two nights just to teach me how to turn the damn thing on. We still do lunch from time to time.

        I do like your journal idea. I would write one too, but I’m just not deciplined enough to keep it up. I might do it for a month then forget I ever started one.

        Take care,

  3. Hi Andrew,
    You wouldn’t believe how many scraps of paper I have in the shop with ideas and such that I think of while working.
    Time to start using a notebook I think.
    Thanks Andrew.

  4. Hi Andrew,

    I just discovered your site, and I must say I love what you are doing! Myself I am a Luthier and I must agree that having a good notebook at the bench is an absolute must, but the key word is ‘good.’ So many notebooks just fall apart in a wood working enviroment. I really like the look of yours, though by the looks of the picture you’ve not written very far into yet. I’d be interested to know how well it holds up, and where it’s from?

    Keep doing what you’re doing, the world needs people who actually care about what they make!


    • Hi Philip,

      Thank you for the kind words. This notebook is the sturdiest one I’ve ever had in the shop. I actually had it for a really long time before doing anything with it—it was a gift from my wife, and I think she got it from a bookstore. Do you have a website where I could see pictures of your work? Take care,

      • I’ll have to keep my eyes open for a similar journal.

        I hadn’t included my site because it is still in it’s infancy. Though since you asked, and I’m not prepared to open up the whole thing I’ve quickly put together a temporary home page with a nice little slide show, I hope you enjoy it.


      • Hi Philip,

        Wow, that is some pretty, pretty work! Thanks so much for putting that together. I hope other people visit your site and see those pictures of your elegant work. When you get your site running all cylinders please let me know, as I’d love to check it out. Thanks again.

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