Or another possible title might have been "should workshop stuff look good?". I have a rule of thumb which I mostly stick to - if it's a one-off which probably won't get used again, or only rarely, it can look as rough and ugly as necessary for speed of making; function is all. If I am going to see and handle it a lot, I will take the trouble to make it at least presentable and, if possible, beautiful. Of course, this approach is the priviledge of the amateur, by which I mean a person who makes fo the pleasure of it rather than to earn a living, with none of the negative implications as to quality often associated with the words amateur and hobbyist.
For starters here are a few things from my workshop:
This sits next to my workshop sink. I needed acabinet on which to mount my pillar drill, wet and dry grinder and to use as a sharpening station for my Japanese water stones. I also needed storage space for drill related items, some powere tools, sharpening gear, carving tools and various other occasasionally used tools. Lastly, I wanted some dovetailing practise, so a cupboard and stack of graduated drawers seemed to fit the bill.
The carcase is made from recycled melamine faced chipboard - the sort of stuff most people would take to the tip - knocked together with glue, screws and biscuits. The top is a recycled school laboratory worktop - probably iroko. Doors are slightly better melaminne faced chipboard lipped with scraps of American cherry. Drawer fronts and some backs and sides are recycled Australian "oak" floorboards. The remainder are leftover quarter sawn sycamore. A piece of black pond liner serves as a waterproof surface for sharpening sessions. Almost zero expenditure and the whole thing is as solid as a rock.
For me, good sound is a must in the workshop so when the hifi in the house was upgraded the old kit had to have a proper home in the workshop. I wanted to keep the dust out, so doors were needed as was ventilation to let the heat out - it has a ventilation slot underneath near the front and another baffled slot in the top at the back. The only part that is really seen is the front so the carcase is just a ply box. I wanted some veneering practise and had some burr elm used for the panels in the ash frames. Not a thing of great beauty but it does what I wanted and allowed me to practise on something that would be useful.
I ran out of CD storage space so made this out of leftover cherry kitchen worktop. The door is MDF veneered on the outside with a nice peice of burr maple left over from another project and lipped with cherry. I knew from the start that it would be a compromised design because, from a wood movement point of view the the grain on the sides should run vertically rather than horizontally, but that would have made forming the CD case slots on the inside very problematic and they would be weak. As expected, the door sticks a bit when humidity is very low but it does the job, I enjoyed making it and I like the look.
Like many woodworkers my cabinet scrapers lived together in a plastic bag - a fate altogether unworthy of any edge tool, so I made this box from scraps of ply, American black walnut and rippled sycamore. The inlay on the front makes it easier to get the lid on the right way round first time and, fittingly, is made from a piece of an old scraper. Now my scrapers no longer rub and bump against each other spoiling their edges before I have even got to use them.
I like to have a spare blade or two for each of my planes, but these had fared little better than my scrapers, stacked in a cardboard box. Many years ago, George, the now long dead tutor at a woodworking evening class I attended at a local school, had rescued a single narrow t&g board of birdseye maple from a wormy maple floor that was being taken up in the school hall. He decided to offer it to me "because he knew I would use it to make something nice" , which I found very touching. I thought some padauk, which I found in a reclamation yard, would provide a nice contrast. I like to think George would approve.
Anyone else care to share workshop tools, fittings or whatever you have made. if there is a story behind them, so much the better.