Tag Archives: tools

In Praise of the Workbench

We’ve got some wasted space in our bedroom closet.

It’s not much space, really. 31″x21″x20″ About 8 cubic feet we’d guess. In a Baltimore rowhouse though, closet space is a precious commodity, and the waste of any of it is silly and shameful. For one such as the Chop, who shops for clothes regularly and likes the room neat and orderly at all times, maximizing closet space is imperative.

So we went to Home Depot and looked for a shelf. We didn’t expect we’d find one that was exactly 31″x 21″, but we were dismayed to find that we couldn’t even come close. We couldn’t seem to find any shelving broader than about a foot.

You can accomplish a lot with a good workbench. Just ask this guy Edison.

It was then that we strolled over to the lumber aisle and found some really nice planks of maple. ‘This’ll work.’ we thought ‘We can cut this to size, use the cut piece as a shelving front, and attach it to the walls, et voilà, custom shelving. We’ve even already got some antique white paint at home to match the trim, or stain and lacquer to match the furniture.

But we quickly realized just how impractical this plan is. Why impractical? Because we haven’t got a saw. Buying a circular saw isn’t out of the question, although it is a very small project to justify the purchase. Even if we had a saw though, we’d probably cut a hand off with it- for we have no workbench.

We don’t even have anything even remotely resembling a workbench. No old folding tables, sawhorses, nothing like that. Without a proper workspace, even something as simple as joining two pieces of wood becomes much harder than it should be. Ditto for painting it, so we’re setting aside the shelf idea for now.

When we enumerated our New Year’s resolutions a few weeks ago, there were a few of them we left out for brevity’s sake, and one of those is to build a workbench area in the basement. We’ve been wanting to do this since before we moved in. Even touring the house with our Realtor we thought that sectioning off a part of the basement for a bench was a great idea. Then roommate moved in, and our basement filled up quick with toys, action figures, T shirts, and sundry other junk which should have found its way to eBay or the dump a long time ago.

Having a bench handy will not only enable us to build and repair things around the house, it will also enable us to build up a decent collection of tools as the need for them arises. As it is now, our humble set of tools is in a box. Not a toolbox, mind you, but a cardboard box. They blend in very nicely with the rest of the junk down there, and we’re hesitant to bring home anything for which we don’t have a place.

Aside from all the practical concerns though, we’ve got to admit that we’re also drawn by the sheer goddamn manliness of the workbench. While we’ve been able to knock out every repair or improvement we’ve faced so far, we anticipate many more in the future around here, and having the right tool for the job and getting it done in a space you’ve designed and built yourself has a deep inherent satisfaction, and we suspect that chasing that satisfaction will have us spending more of our Sundays accomplishing home improvements, and fewer of them sulking around, listening to Belle and Sebastian and looking at the sex stories and personal essays on nerve.com.

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Chop Style: Five Things You Need to Get Dressed Properly

We caught you Baltimore. Red Handed. You’ve just been busted by the fashion police. We caught you slipping, and you’re going to have to step up your game wardrobe-wise, or risk being mocked mercilessly out in public for looking like a complete heel.

This weekend was full of uniforms everywhere we looked. There was, of course, the literal uniform of a football jersey which has become de rigueur for everyone everywhere all day on Sundays. On Friday though, it was a different sort of uniform altogether. We went down to check out Helmet at Sonar on Friday, where the dress code was a strict black XL band t-shirt, everyday jeans that haven’t been washed in a year, and black boots. That was a really cool look when Meantime came out, but of course, we were in middle school then. And so was the rest of the over-thirty crowd Friday night.

Every Baltimorean should own an ironing board. Just ask Divine.

Your clothes should be age appropriate, Baltimore. It’s a rule. It matters. It’s time to start dressing like a grown up. Of course, if you’re going to do it right, you’ll need more than just new clothes. You can’t fix what’s broken without the proper tools. What are the proper tools? Read on:

A Mirror

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it occurs to us that some of you bachelors on renters’ row are living without a mirror in the bedroom. Even our own roommate relies on the small, slightly cramped bathroom’s mirror. We were once guilty of this too, before we moved into the Chophouse, and we hated it. If a decent dresser/mirror combo is out of the question for you, at least take yourself up to Ikea and grab one for under $10. We bought one of these the week we moved in. You can hang it on the back of the closet door and paint the frame any color you like.

An Iron and Board

We know what you’ve been doing… waiting until Sunday to do your laundry, then getting sucked into football and food and other chores, and leaving the laundry to sit and wrinkle in the dryer. Or worse, dragging it home from the laundromat in a sack and leaving it for 3 days. If you’re going to look like a grown up, you need an iron and board. Hanging it in the bathroom during a hot shower isn’t cutting it. Bed Bath and Beyond will hook you up with an iron and compact board for $10 each. And when football season ends, you’ll be all set to pursue an interest in extreme ironing.

A Lint Brush

A lint brush is possibly the best five bucks you can invest in your wardrobe. Make sure you get one like this, and not one of those crappy ones with sticky paper on it. They’re available at any grocery store or pharmacy chain, and for a few bucks you can throw it in your drawer and leave it there forever. No matter how nice your clothes are, they look stupid when they’re covered in lint and pet hair.

A Shoeshine Kit

These are also available anywhere. You don’t even have to spring for a whole kit. A can of Kiwi and an old t-shirt and toothbrush will be serviceable. There’s no need to go overboard with it, like some pretentious assholes are wont to do. It’s not even necessary to put a lot of time or effort into the actual polishing if you don’t want to… just a quick shine 5 or 6 times a year will make your shoes look better and last longer.

A Door Hook

Time was, we’d take off a jacket or a pair of pants and toss it on a seat, intending to wear it again the next day. Then change our mind and gradually watch the clothes pile up. With the addition of a simple hook over the door, we now have a decent place to hang that stuff and keep it out of the way. And when the hooks get full we know it’s damn well time to put some clothes away. Buying a door hook is the best thing that ever happened to our dressing routine, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. Target has a ton of them, anywhere from 2 to 6 hooks, and starting as little as $4.99. Go get one.

With these tools in your box you should be able to fix any wardrobe wheels that may fall off on a Monday Morning. There’s plenty of other tools that may serve you well also; sewing kits, shoe insoles and the like. What sort of other items are helping you get dressed, Baltimore?

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