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The Workshop Book by Scott Landis
© 1991 The Taunton Press, Inc. Newtown, Connecticut. PP 34-36.

The most impressive example of a homestead workshop dedicated exclusively to woodwork that I found belongs to Lewis Judy and Toni Gilbert of Jefferson, Oregon.

Theirs is a vertically integrated facility, with two wood kilns, a large workshop and a finishing area and a new 3,000-sq. ft. gallery, all housed in separate buildings. The shop and gallery cluster are separated from the house by about 20 acres of farmland (planted with garlic, cauliflower, wheat or peppermint by a local farmer) in Oregon's fertile Willamette valley. "We have it all right here," Judy says.

The business began humbly enough in the early 1970s in an 8-ft. by 12-ft. hobby shop, with the table saw, 6-in. jointer and bandsaw they used to build their house. Work on the current shop began in 1975 and has grown incrementally ever since. Beginning in one stall of a large metal bus shed, the shop gradually spilled over into two stalls, then three and, ultimately, consumed the entire 3,200-sq. ft. building.

The place is huge, but the renovation was made more manageable by being done in two phases. In the first, the Judys installed furring strips, insulation and drywall in the walls and roof, added windows and rewired the entire shed with conduit. in the second phase, a built-up wood floor was added at one end for a small showroom, and an overhead sprinkler system was installed. They did all the work themselves, spending about $25,000 on materials. "You couldn't have built a shop that size for that kind of money," Judy says. "It was definitely worth it." And by doing the work themselves, he explains, they were better able to design the place around their own needs.

About five years ago, they built an additional 28-ft. by 28-ft. building for storage and finishing. Shortly thereafter, when Judy began milling local walnut, he added another two 1,000-sq. ft metal sheds to handle two Ebac kilns and more lumber storage. The last section went up so quickly that Toni didn't' even find out about it until a week after it was built.

"I tried to make the shop have a good flow to it," Judy says. "Everything moves. When something's finished, it goes out of here. It has a home." That home is now the gallery. When I first visited the Judys about four years ago, the showroom was ensconced at one end of the workshop. It was decorated like a living and dining room, displaying Lewis's woodwork and Toni's stained glass along with other furnishings supplied by local artisans. Apparently I was not the only visitor who was impressed by the arrangement. "That's when our furniture really kicked off," Judy says. By 1989, the business had outgrown the showroom, and they built the gallery (shown on the facing page). When I returned for a recent visit, I mistook the gallery for a new house. As it turned out, I wasn't entirely wrong. The Gilbert-Judys built it as a house, not only for the benefit of marketing their crafts, but also against the possibility that they might someday want to sell it.

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