The footings were dug in short order, retaining walls were built and the concrete poured. Suddenly I could see how big the new leather workshop was going to be and could plan where the benches would go and how the workflow would happen. All very exciting!
However, this was the start of the show season so I missed quite a bit of the construction as I travelled around the country from medieval fair to medieval fair. One minute the tent was up in Cornwall, the next in Norfolk. Non stop shows for ten weeks is exhausting but each time I came home the workshop had grown some more until finally came time to fit the automatic roller shutter door. Squeeeeeeeeee!
I freely admit to playing with the zapper for hours; rolling the door up and down like a kid with a new toy. I'm convinced that roller shutter doors are just a 'bloke thing'. Ladies don't seem to understand... Several laughed...
Floor painting was a surprise. It was quick. Much quicker than I expected and easier too. It is incredible how much paint you can apply with a roller on a stick if there is a cold beer waiting at the end. Three coats and it looked amazing. I didn't want to walk on it!
At this point I had to make some serious decisions. Leatherworking requires a specific type of work flow:
I always start a project by selecting appropriate leather and cutting out the pieces. Therefore I needed racks to store the leather, a cutting out bench and my 22 ton hydraulic leather cutting (clicking) press to be sited in roughly the same area.
The racks were easy - two commercial shelving units 'back to back' and bolted together gave me the length I need to store rolled hides. Another section of shelving holds suede skins and makes it easy to find the colour I need for a specific job.
The cutting out bench is a huge pine table with a self-healing cutting board on top. Big enough to take a full 'shoulder' of leather and fitted with a useful drawer at one end that holds my knives.
Having cut out the pieces, I tool the leather so I needed a place to site a heavy duty bench that can take the weight of my massive granite tooling slab. It had to be relatively close to the cutting out area and needed a water supply to enable me to damp the leather before tooling.
The granite slab came from a monumental mason's yard - not quite a tombstone, but very nearly. It is phenomenally heavy and takes two very strong men to move it. I've sited the bench and slab close to the sink and it seems to work for now. Changes may be afoot!
I then needed hanging space to dry out the tooled leather. I eventually decided on screw eyes in the rafters with hooks to hang the individual components on. It works for me and I wouldn't change it now. They double up as storage for finished work so a win/win.
The staining bench was tricky as I needed access to a wide range of dyes and finishes. They all had to be within reach or the work would take far too long. Eventually, the benches were built complete with shelves and I think they work rather well. I cover them in butcher's paper to absorb any spillage. The paper gets changed pretty regularly to keep the back of the work clean.
Having set out the workshop, I needed to see if the layout worked in 'real life'. It didn't!
Lots of pulling, pushing, moving and grunting later I had an operational workspace.
T'was time to start production...