(You don’t need to give up your shop)

Dave Lewis

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 When my wife and I first talked about relocating to a retirement community many issues came to the forefront. Among them were all of the parameters that one associates with such a decision plus the downsizing in terms of the stuff we had accumulated over the years.  Admittedly, another was how to function without MY HOME SHOP that occupied more than half of our two-car garage.

Our search began in the summer of 1998. After visiting a number of facilities in the geographic area of interest, we settled on Southminster in south Charlotte.  While the selection process focused on factors such as services, health care and facilities for people of our tender age, I must confess that the availability of a 32’ x 32’ woodworking shop may have influenced my decision.  To sweeten the deal even more, it was agreed that should we relocate there, my machine tools could be used to upgrade or supplement Southminister's existing shop equipment.  It was a done deal.

The Wood Shop is located on the ground floor of the main building. This area is remote from living quarters making it possible to work at any hour of the day. There is access to the loading dock via a freight elevator plus ground access to a parking lot making it possible to move equipment, supplies, and finished products with ease. Wood Shop Equipment includes a 10” Delta Table Saw  with a Unifence and a 33” extension table.  This allows the ability to handle a full sheet of plywood.  The 20” Planer in the background of this photo has just had the blades replaced along with the Jointer and Radial Arm Saw, so we are ready to make some sawdust.  I was also fortunate to be able to bring my lathe and accessories with me along with the COMPOUND MITER SAW, which has been a welcome addition to the shop. Of course there are pneumatic nailers, a drill press, router table and a variety of hand routers, sanders, and hand tools. Bottom line is, it a very well equipped shop.

There are about 20 registered users of the Wood Shop. As with any group of woodworkers, the type of project varies with the individuals skill level.  In our case we also have a variety of requests from fellow residents that come in from day to day. For example, the Health Department frequently hold functions and needed a Formica topped PARTY COUNTER as shown by Charlie Palmer, Woodshop Chairman. A good job for the shop but to make it more festive, Lola Mac Millin and Helen Huntley, from the Art Group, stopped by the shop to ADD A LITTLE MAGIC to the project.

There is no end to the opportunities. The Encore Gallery, established by residents, raises funds in support of the Southminster Fund by selling donations.  They sell all manor of things in the shop.  Given the fact that we had a set of cabriole legs in the shop looking for a home, we built an END TABLE that is now on sale in the Encore Gallery. A fun project.

The Craft Shop affords members a place to practice their skills on a verity of projects. Mimi Young runs very creative workshops producing a variety of craft objects. She also decorates and sells TOY CHESTS made by shop members along with other items such as Pocket Mirrors.

As you might guess, with close to 300 fellow residents in the complex, there can be all kinds of minor repairs and projects performed in the shop.  One of the recurring challenges, taken on by Dr. Stone, is the repair of CHAIRS.  A few ANTIQUES also find their way to our doors, all helping to keep a backlog in place. Couple that with ones own “Things To Do List” can keep you as busy as you wish.

And Ben Horack tackles a job proving that no project is too large or too SMALL.

Our new quarters are very comfortable meeting our everyday needs. However, since we didn’t get rid of all or our “stuff”, it was necessary to build a TEN DRAWER CABINET for our kitchen. And it’s full.

Since our cottage is some distance from the main building it raises the question of dealing with everyday projects around the house. Never fear! The carport includes two large cabinets, one of which stores supplies while the other is home to a Mini Shop. So far, it has done well meeting the needs of projects around the house.

Should one run out of things to do in the Wood Shop, you can turn your attention to the Art Studio, Computer Lab, Library, Craft Shop, and Fitness Center, not to mention entertaining programs and trips to numerous functions around town. Hard to find time to sleep some days.

The world doesn’t begin or end with the Woodworking Shop, but, if you enjoy woodworking and are considering a move to a retirement community, why not check to see if they have a Shop available? You might be glad you did.

If you have any additional questions or would like to visit the Southminster Shop, please contact, Dave Lewis, via email.