Closing My Workshop

Over the bank holiday weekend I had the sad job of closing my workshop.

My workshop started as a small hobby hole, I had been gifted a wood turning course in 2016 by my wife, I was unsure if its something i’d be interested in but I did have the drive to try something different from IT. In conversation I had brought up the idea of doing blacksmithing one day, and my wife did look for something but couldn’t find anywhere local that runs a from basics course. Instead, she found a wood turning course run by Cheshire Wood Working. I was initially unsure, but after the two day course I was transfixed.

I had been working on the idea of buying a lathe, pricing up a few options, but was always stuck of where I could put it. I live in a relatively large town house, but I have no garage or space in the garden to place a shed. I’m not sure how I come to look at storage units but I found a local company that offered powered workshop spaces, after a quick conversation I jumped at the opportunity and signed a lease. It was a 150 sqft storage unit at around £320/month, exceedingly expensive but it gave me the space I needed. The same day I headed down to Axminster Tools and purchased my lathe.

After paying a substantial amount of money for the last year for what was essentially a hobby I decided I needed to make at least some income to subsidize the overall cost. One day while I was watching Game Night! on the BoardGameGeek channel I spotted a large meeple in the background of the video. A meeple is a name for a common token used across a lot of modern boardgames, but first came about from Carcassonne. I searched eBay and Etsy and discovered that very few people were making large meeples, as in bigger than three inches. I thought maybe I had found a market.

I produced a selection of solid wood meeples, plywood painted meeples, and some other gaming related items. Meeples became a major income source over the next few years and it subsidised the workshop and my hobbies for three years. With that my tools and workshop expanded, learning new skills to create interesting an different treen. Working in the workshop was something so different from IT, when people asked why I always used this to explain:

In IT you can work hard all week and produce nothing, with wood working you can work hard and you always end up with something, even if it is a pile of scrap wood and sawdust.

Unfortunately COVID-19 started up in early 2020 and kept me locked out of the workshop for a few months, orders dropped off and it became problematic to sustain the workshop. Orders did pickup mid 2020 and it did end up as my most successful year, 2021 had a slight drop off from there, but early 2022 I hit zero, zero orders for three months. COVID had been quite hard on my fiances for numerous reasons, and as long as the workshop contributed some money back into the pot I could take the hit of the remaining rental, but it wasn’t sustainable. At zero sales I had to make the hard decision to close it.

I’m still not 100% sure what has happened, but I assume that 2020/2021 was so successful due to the lockdowns being experienced worldwide, people couldn’t get out to spend their money on other things so gifs and oddities was a easy spend. Now that travel has resumed and the world is opening up again in 2022 I guess that everyone has much better things to spend on. Maybe like me, the pandemic finances finally caught up to people, and with the rising fuel costs and inflation we’ve just hit a breaking point. I don’t begrudge anyone, my customers were subsidizing a hobby and side business after all.

As my wife says, everything is temporary, maybe in a year or so I can start again. For the moment, thank you Unit G/055 - you will be missed.