shop tips

Warm Up Exercises

Late last fall while working on the cedar shingle siding for our daughter’s house my left knee began bothering me even more than usual, progressing to the point where four months ago I was almost unable to walk without a cane.  (I damaged my knee in the summer of 1970 while trying out for football at my football- factory high school, a nonsensical undertaking since I was 5′-7″, 135 pounds at the time; it has ached ever since.  But I was a punter, and even then was outkicking the first string varsity kicker.  By a lot.)  Mrs. Barn persuaded me to go to the doc, and that resulted in a month of bi-weekly physical therapy.  The current probable culprit was a damaged meniscus and the PT and ongoing exercise regimen ever since has been helping, some days more than others.  As long as I do not overdo things, like spending five hours rasslin’ the walk-behind bush hog on the hillside, all is tolerable.

The other day as I was doing my every-other-day hour-long exercise routine in the space I set up for that in the shop I got to thinking about warm-up exercises for shop work.  Probably not too surprising I take a somewhat different approach than do many others.  For example, it is almost holy writ among “real craftsmen” that you must end the day cleaning up the shop and putting all your tools and supplies away in order to have a fresh start for tomorrow.

For me and the way my temperament operates, this is pure bovine scatology.  I hate cleaning up at the end of the work day, I am usually tired and it would only put me in a lousy frame of mind.  I’m done at a particular stopping point and want to go down the hill for supper and some time in my reading chair.  I’ll clean as need during the day, but at the end?  Nah.

On the other hand I enjoy starting the day by cleaning up, sweeping, putting away, etc.  I am not a morning person and work entirely alone so I find this time of productivity and meditation gets me into a good mood, energized and mentally organized for the activities of the day.  That’s what I think of as my “warm up exercise” for the work day, both putting me in a good frame of mind and loosening up the aching old bones with the usually gentle movements of housekeeping.

But perhaps I am not a real craftsman, or at least you would not think of me as one since I am not enslaved to end-of-the-day cleaning up.  I can live with that since I keep my own counsel and pretty much am generally not bound by what anyone thinks about anything.  Just more proof my wiring is off.