Heaven is, as heaven does ...
September 8, 2010 9:36 PM   Subscribe

"My brother says that some day two men in white coats will come and take me away. Someone said that if they are men, after looking at the shop, they will forget what they came for and I should remain free". A photo tour of the home workshop of Mr. Jacques Jodoin, including a video walkthrough.
posted by woodblock100 (31 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
A thing of beauty!
posted by ColdChef at 9:39 PM on September 8, 2010

Is there a pic of anything he's made anywhere? I mean, apart from the workshop.
posted by unSane at 9:46 PM on September 8, 2010

Those wagon wheel baby food jar screw vertical lazy susan type things... pure genius.
(I also store small screws in baby food jars collected when my children were young.)
posted by Duke999R at 9:51 PM on September 8, 2010

I am looking at my somewhat wonkily, ok, VERY wonkily assembled John Lewis bookcase as I read this and feeling a deep sense of inadequacy and shame. Genius!
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:02 PM on September 8, 2010

A man after my own heart.
posted by maxwelton at 10:04 PM on September 8, 2010

Indeed, if there is a heaven, I am imagining that it looks much as that shop looks.
posted by bz at 10:09 PM on September 8, 2010

"But wait... These pictures are only from walking along one side of the workshop!..."

Oh my.
posted by not_the_water at 10:14 PM on September 8, 2010

What unSane asked, please.
posted by Lukenlogs at 10:43 PM on September 8, 2010

pic of anything he's made?

I Googled a bit, but didn't turn anything up; seems he's fairly private. The captions to the photos do seem to be suggesting that the tools get well used, but even if it should turn out that he is more of the 'collector' type than the 'craftsman' type, well then, that's cool too. He has still built something wonderful in that basement.

Kind of like one of those huge train sets really ... who's got time to play with the trains?
posted by woodblock100 at 11:06 PM on September 8, 2010

Based on his workshop alone, this man MUST be the platonic ideal of "Grandpa"
posted by KingEdRa at 11:08 PM on September 8, 2010

the ideal Grandpa ....

You bet! Did you notice in the very first picture where it shows the workbench that lowers to 11" ... "Very convenient when working on tall pieces of furniture or with grandchildren"

Sheesh ... there are so many good ideas on display here!
posted by woodblock100 at 11:14 PM on September 8, 2010

It's very clean, but it does look like he works in it - there's sawdust in various spots. This reminds me of my own grandfather's workshop, which was much smaller, but densely packed with tools and scraps of wood. The smell of sawn wood....ah, memories.
posted by Xoebe at 11:15 PM on September 8, 2010

Makes me homesick. My dad's shop wasn't that fabulously equipped, but it was moving in that direction. We had babyfood jars and bigger jars, hanging up all over, with every conceivable nail, screw, bolt, but, and unmentionable parts. Coffee cans up amongst the beams (in the basement) containing electrical parts. Tools of all sorts. And, in place of an anvil, a 2 foot section of railroad track. Many of the tools were inherited when my grandfather died.
posted by Goofyy at 12:57 AM on September 9, 2010

My granddad had a basement workshop that, while not this impressive by any means, was pretty spectacular to a geeky kid like me.

In fact all the grandkids would look forward to visiting that treasure trove, spending all day toiling away at some project and generally being loosely supervised while around dangerous things. Great fun.

As we grew older each one of us would work out that all the equipment (from screws to a colossal lathe) had been "borrowed" from the factory where he'd been the head maintenance engineer for the last years of his working life. It dawned on us that he never made anything, and had no interest in doing so. Aquireing the workshop was presumably the goal in itself.

Some of us disliked to workshop when we discovered that it'd basically been stolen, others thought it added to the charming eccentricity of this absurd mini-factory in a terraced house basement.

When he passed away we had to pay a specialist company to remove it all before the house could be sold. Part of the ground floor had to be taken up so the larger machines could be winched out. We'll never know how he got those machines home and into the basement, but I wish I'd taken photos before it was all dismantled.
posted by samworm at 2:00 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

samworm: I know of factories which let the employees acquire old equipment when it is replaced-- sometimes at a very low cost or free. It is how some of them keep their nerd machinists happy. In addition, it is common for machinists to own a significant amount of their own equipment; unions often arrange for the company to share the cost of an individual's personal equipment purchases.

I am a software engineer, and our industry sometimes has similar arrangements.

I don't know your grandfather's story, but it's very possible that he obtained his fantastic workshop by entirely legal means.
posted by honest knave at 2:25 AM on September 9, 2010

I confess, I drooled a little bit looking at this.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:56 AM on September 9, 2010

I hope the realtor someday responsible for the sale of this house has the wisdom to market it as a hobbyist workshop with a house attached. Because the thought of some clueless homeowner paying to have all this stuff chucked out makes me very sad.

Those drawers were used to store heavy automotive sockets at The Home Depot....When they changed to a new system of hooks I bought the 336 drawers for $5.

Of course you did.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:08 AM on September 9, 2010

I look at this, I think about this and wonder when I travel back in time to become this guy.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:05 AM on September 9, 2010

OK, this.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:07 AM on September 9, 2010

I saw this a few weeks ago but didn't make it to page 3 out of depressed comparison to my own paltry workshop (which I have to share with a cat litterbox!).

Looking at it again, I have to agree that this guy is definitely a tool collector. How many routers do you need? And look how many clamps he has underneath. Sure, you can never have too many---but that's too many. And the wagonwheels make zero sense whatsoever. How many screws is he fitting per sqft vs regular rectangular shelves? He sure isn't saving time spinning that thing around rather than just grabbing from the shelf.

That said, there definitely are some, even many, good things about his shop. Like the walls of screw/nail bins. The whole thing reminds me of the workshop of some guy I happened to be in (for like 5 minutes) a few months ago. It was a fully equipped machine shop in his "garage". Probably 150 ft long by 75 ft wide and filled with lathes, mills, vast work surfaces, etc. I wanted to conk him on the head, don his clothes and take over his life.
posted by DU at 4:47 AM on September 9, 2010

Baby food jars are a great idea for small parts. Now I just need a couple of babies so I can start collecting the jars.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:05 AM on September 9, 2010

Looking at it again, I have to agree that this guy is definitely a tool collector. How many routers do you need? And look how many clamps he has underneath. Sure, you can never have too many---but that's too many.

Lies! There is no such thing as too many clamps!

I guess the tool collection is something that comes with this being his hobby. He makes stuff from wood for fun, and when it starts getting boring and repetitive, he buys a new piece of equipment (or finds a new use to an old one) to make it fun again. Given the amount of time he spends down there working (on the 3rd page, it says he spends 30-40 hours down there every week), it's no wonder he needs all these machines to keep him happy.
posted by daniel_charms at 5:21 AM on September 9, 2010

Very cool. I, too, was looking for pictures of things he's made. I think it's unquestionable (from the captions) that he uses the stuff (and from the assortment of stuff. Collecting tools is one thing, collecting stands is another).
posted by OmieWise at 5:24 AM on September 9, 2010

It definitely looks like his real interest, and where he spends most of his time, is in the making of jigs, adaptors, and workshop fixes, along with collecting the tools. The actual making of furniture or whatever is secondary at best, and probably tertiary. For a lot of people, the potential is the central part -- "I could use this SUV to drive through Mongolia"; "I could ride this bicycle in the Tour de France"; "I could make fabulous art" -- without ever transitioning into the actual.

One of the interesting things if you compare a rabid hobbiest like him with someone who is working commercially is that the hobbiest never needs to make tradeoffs. He can spend several weeks optimizing, making the perfect jig or buying a new tool in order to get a pure and perfect result. If you are working commercially, you have to satisfice, finding an adequate solution that works within cost and time limitations. Both have value, but I think a lot more creativity comes out in situations where people are working within limits.
posted by Forktine at 5:59 AM on September 9, 2010

I come from two generations of theatrical carpenters, who both had crazy cool workshops filled with tools and hardware, most of which was marked "property of" whichever television network they worked for. It was years before I figured out why everything said "CBS" and not a single one of those letters appears anywhere in my grandfather's name.
posted by nevercalm at 5:59 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

"Wheel O' Screws" is going to be the name of my next band.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2010

I have to agree that this guy is definitely a tool collector.

I'm inclined to disagree, actually. He worked for Porter Cable and Home Depot; he had the opportunity to buy a lot of tools very cheaply. Stuff like the routers for example, I get the feeling that he wanted to buy because they were interesting in some way, rather than out of some completionist impulse.

I know several collectors. They want one of everything, even the crappy stuff, especially the crappy stuff as it gets thrown away first and is thus rare. There's not a lot of crap tools in that shop. There's some old stuff sure, but who throws away an old but still perfectly good tool even when you have a shinier one?

This guy strikes me as a tool geek. As a fellow tool geek I completely get where he's coming from. Who wouldn't want a 3 hp radial arm saw or a panel saw. That's so cool!
posted by bonehead at 8:22 AM on September 9, 2010

Oh, he worked for Porter Cable and Home Depot? I guess that does put a different light on it. For the same money, a non-deal-finding-employee would probably have about 1/10th the amount of tools (which is to say, a HELL OF A LOT, but not his INSANE amount).
posted by DU at 8:29 AM on September 9, 2010

I really liked this in its own right, but I also just wanted to note: the pages of photos in this link are some of the best careful and inobtrusive uses of javascripted images ever. Awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 10:47 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

at my old house, i had a small corner of the basement for my 'workshop'. at my new house, no basement...no workshop. seeing this makes me miss it a lot, even though it was only 1/100000th of this guy's setup.
what i would give...
posted by g.i.r. at 10:49 AM on September 9, 2010

Every molecule of my inner craftsman/sculptor aches with yearning looking at those pics. What a rush. I want to hold a jigsaw and make something, right now!

All those exquisite, obsessive-compulsive drawers. Those brilliantly designed multi-layered wagon wheels full of nuts and bolts, washers, anchors,and fasteners. It puts the oooooh into screws.

Woodgears.ca, An Engineer's Approach to Woodworking, is the blog of the man who interviewed Jacques Jodoin. He has a pretty awesome workshop -and website- of his own. Pics of his dad's workshop. These guys love wood.
posted by nickyskye at 10:52 AM on September 9, 2010

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