Take any random group of wood workers, and you could get a pretty good argument going by asking everyone what every shop needs. Most people would say a well-adjusted tablesaw with a sharp, high-quality blade. But there are still plenty of folks who prefer a radial-arm saw. (Beats me why.) You'd get just about everyone to agree that a router is essential, although the rustic woodworkers and molding plane fans would say "No way!" Is there really any one thing that every shop needs?
One tool that would get my vote is a "moaning chair." My last shop had a great one—a hideous old recliner that looked like a wooly mammoth (especially with a decade of sawdust in it). It was ugly, but thoroughly broken in and enormously comfortable. This chair was just the place to collapse after I cut a board too short, made two left sides to a cabinet, or some other "oops." it was also the favorite spot for buddies to hang out, for my wife to sit and chat, and even for me to take an occasional nap. It was gross, it took up precious floor space, it was hard to clean, but it helped transform my shop from a merely practical workplace into a pleasant shop.
Maybe that's the one essential we could all agree on. Whether it's a comfortable chair, family photos, old tools we've restored, a dusty ribbon from high-school shop class, interesting junk waiting for a purpose, or even just bits and pieces of projects gone by—the one ingredient that every well-equipped shop needs is that little bit of its owner's personality that turns a room full of tools into your favorite place to be.
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