It’s a heat box. If you made your way here from Instagram, that makes sense to you. If not, well, go check out my Instagram post from Nov. 3, 2021.
Welcome! What’s up? I hope this blog finds you well and in good health wherever you are in this crazy world of ours. I’ll explain more on that box in just a minute. First, let me catch you up to speed on the last 2 years of my life with a quick timeline:
Oct/2019 – I’m still a carpenter by day, and a hobbyist woodworker by night. I assemble my first cutting board in a makeshift carport shop.
Nov/2019 – Sold my first board to a friend who was foolish enough to support my hobby. Made me think “maybe I could do that again?”
March/2020 – You know what happens. Rhymes with magnetic.
May/2020 – Due to you know what, I’m laid off from my day job for 2 months. At the same time moving to a house with a larger, heated shop where I spend day and night building boards and start seriously thinking about “what if I just did this full time?”
Dec/2020 – Inform my day job that come spring when the construction project wraps up, I’ll be moving on to work for myself. At the same time, the opportunity for the shop I’m now in presents itself.
Feb/2021 – My wife and I find out we are pregnant with our first child.
Feb/2021 – I panic and go back to my day job and ask to stay on past the completion of the current project.
Feb/2021 – After some thinking, I go back to my day job and give them a date of April 10 as my final date of employment and that I’ll be taking the leap into working for myself.
As you can see, February was a bit of roller coaster.
April/2021 – After 3 years of playing carpenter, I move on.
May/2021 – My wife and I move again, and this time, I move into a much larger shop.
Oct/2021 – Our baby boy is born!
Nov/2021 – I head back to work at the shop, which is suddenly colder than it was when I walked away in September.
And here we go,
When you put something out to the universe, it’s funny to watch what comes along to help you out. In May/2020, I got serious with myself about wanting to spend my days woodworking. I simply just want to live my life doing what I love to do. Don’t we all? That November is when the opportunity to move my operation into a much larger shop came along. That was what motivated me to inform my day job in December that I would be parting ways come the spring. I would have been crazy to pass on it. At the same time, I had to be a little crazy to say yes to it. After all, going from 350 sq. ft to 2000 sq. ft is quite the jump. It’s almost a little too much. Almost. But the stars were aligning and I felt saying yes to this was the next step forward.
You see, I don’t really live my life or do things by the standard societal norm. I like to live on the edge, and am impulsive in nature. I'm a man and wired as such. Being in survival mode provides a certain thrill that actually quells the type of anxiety I carry with me when I'm living a life getting out of bed to go work for someone else. I do my best to pay attention to opportunity as it comes along and whether or not I’m ready for it, I dive in and figure it out. Life’s too short to make sure everything is perfect before going ahead and doing what you want to do. So much time passes just waiting for everything to be right and in order. If it ever happens.
When opportunity knocks it doesn’t give you time to check all your boxes. It doesn’t say to you “take your time, get a concrete business plan in place. Make sure you have a solid marketing strategy and a clientele lined up to buy your products. Don’t forget about your assets and liabilities and cash flow sheets.”
Opportunity doesn’t say “I’ll wait right here and be here when you get back while you secure that business loan from the bank, and I’ll keep waiting while you make sure you have 6 months income set aside in an emergency fund in case life happens along the way."
What opportunity says is “I’m knocking right now and if you don’t answer, I’m going to take off and it may be a while before I come back. If I ever come back”
When opportunity knocks, I answer. Some would call living life like this irresponsible. And rightfully so. But you know what else is irresponsible? Squandering the precious time we have been given by waking up and doing something that isn’t what you truly want to do every day. To spend most of your time doing what you don’t want to do so that you can spend a little bit of your time doing what you do want to do on evenings or weekends. It’s so weird. And trust me, I’ve spent a good chunk my life doing that exact thing. Hustling and grinding so that I could enjoy a little bit of time of what I really love to do. It’s so backwards. None of us get out of this thing alive, and that day comes for us all sooner than we want it to. There’s no point in taking anything too terribly seriously. So why not get busy building the life you want to live?
With all that being said, when one chooses this particular path in life, it’s not exactly a paved road. It’s a bit of a back road with some bumps along the way that are placed there specifically to test your suspension. My attempt at an analogy….
Every time you hit one of these bumps, it tests you. It tempts you to stop the vehicle, turn around and head back to the freeway to get back in line with everyone else. And sometimes one can only take so many bumps before it’s time to stop and turn around. And sometimes you need to decide that you’re going to back up, put the vehicle in 4x4 and show that bump that it’s just a bump and it’s not going to hold you back.
That’s where I’ve been at these past few days. I’m way down that back road up against another bump that I’ve been staring down and revving my engine in neutral at, but not actually putting my foot on the gas. The bump I’m talking about is the heat situation in my shop. I know what you’re thinking: what?? You moved into that giant shop without a plan for the heat?? What are you, some kind of pathetic loser??
And yes, it’s true. Not the pathetic loser part, but the part where I didn’t have a concrete plan for heat. I knew way back in May when I moved in that eventually this would be a situation I would need to deal with. But at the time I figured “that’s a problem for future me” and just like that, the future has arrived. Funny how it does that. Now, it’s not as simple as just sticking a heater in there, or even if I had the several thousand dollars to do so, get a heat pump installed. The reality is that there is no insulation behind the drywall on 3 of my shop walls. That’s just the way it is and the way it was when I came along. And the fourth wall is concrete with a row of windows and if you know your heat loss in construction, the majority of it occurs through the building’s biggest penetrations (windows/doors) and through floor systems. The only area that does have insulation behind it is the ceiling drywall. After all, this isn’t exactly a commercial bay I’m in. It’s an old dairy barn turned woodworking shop.
So I’m of the opinion that sure, I could find a way to blast heat into this space, but without appropriate insulation, it would be highly ineffective and rather expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I have zero regrets about saying yes to opportunity. This is just another small bump in the road. One that I’ve seen coming for a while, but decided to deal with it when I couldn’t get any further. And when I got to it, it had me sitting back revving my engine. Stuck. Thinking about what to do. Procrastinating. Letting the self doubt creep in. Not feeling worthy. You know, all those things our brains do to keep us “safe”. It really is funny how our brain will fill with negative self-talk to keep us from doing something we really want to do, but just haven’t done before. Life is a constant test.
And then it occurred to me what I needed to do. Build an enclosed box that I could fill with heat where I could store the wood I’m currently using, my glue, and my glueups as I proceed through builds. I live on Vancouver Island, where even in the coldest months of winter, it gets down to a few digits below zero degrees Celsius at night time. If I had a prairie winter on my hands, I would have had a bigger problem on my hand. But this mild climate; I can work with.
So I put the truck into gear, and drove over that bump in the road. The fact of the matter is, I don’t need my entire shop to be heated. I’ve spent a good chunk of my adult life working outside in the winters. I can easily put on a couple extra layers and hang out in an enclosed space that’s sheltered from the wind and rain and snow of which I have dealt with in winters past. Daytime winter temperatures where I live during the winter months are typically in the single digits, but rarely dip below freezing. What I do need to be heated is the wood and the glue I’m working with.
And now I’ve got my heat box where I can keep all my projects at the temperature they need to be at. Of course, as I’m working on projects, they’ll be in and out of that space, but I believe that due to the minimal amount of time they’ll be out of the box to go through a saw blade for their next glue up, it won’t be an issue. Is it absolutely perfect? Absolutely not, but it’s a completely viable solution, one that solves my problem and one that feels liberating AF.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m golden and able to get back into production.
But for a minute while I was sitting there revving my engine, the thought of “oh no, this is it, it’s time to turn back and go back to the freeway” crept into my head. The literal translation of that being “time to pack it in and go find a real job.” That damn Plan B creeping in. Here’s why I think it’s a bad idea to have a Plan B: Because as soon as you have a plan B, you get comfortable with Plan A not working out, and eventually Plan B becomes the reality. You start thinking “oh, it’s actually OK if Plan A fails, because I’ve got another plan. It’s not the plan I want, but it’s the plan I’ll settle for, therefore everything is fine”
But it’s not fine. It’s not fine to settle for what you don’t want over what you do want. That’s no way to live life. That’s no way to spend the time you’ve been so graciously given.
There's that saying: "If you want to take the island, you’ve got to burn the boats”
Plan B’s are for people who don’t believe or want to put the work into making their Plan A a reality. As soon as you have a fall back plan, you inevitably fall back on it. Your focus becomes divided as soon as you have a Plan B and as soon as your focus shifts away from Plan A, so does the energy you put into making it a reality. Comfort is the enemy of achievement. The more comfortable you get with having a Plan B, the higher the likelihood that Plan A will fizzle away.
And no, I don’t have any safety concerns with this set up. The heater is on the lowest setting possible and has a thermostat. It takes about 2 minutes to heat up the inside of the box before the heater kicks off. The space retains the heat for nearly 45 minutes before the heat drops enough to notify the thermostat which kicks the heater back on to bring it back up. I aim to keep the inside at 18 degrees Celsius. That foam needs about 100 degrees Celsius before it would even starts to melt. The heater is positioned on fire rated drywall and the foam is cut back on the inside so that the only thing touching the heater is the drywall. And again, it’s not blasting non stop, scorching heat. Just a little poof now and then to keep the space what it needs to be. Safe and effective.
I am commited to my plan A. My vision.
There is no going back, and there is no Plan B. There is no faking it until you make it. You’ve got to do what’s best for you, regardless of the opinions and suggestions being offered to you. You’ve got to commit to your vision, to your Plan A and only your Plan A. You’ve got to face it until you make it.
Here’s to keeping the dream live,