What is it like to be Barefoot in a Wood shop?
What’s it like for a Fireman to run into a burning house? I have no idea, but I guess he probably considers it just part of his job.
So this is how I ended up barefoot in a wood shop.
I work in Southern California. My building is a tilt-up made of concrete. No heating/ no air conditioning. Here in the winter time there’s only one or two days where it’s really cold. Heating’s not such a big deal. On the other hand, being in a concrete box when its 100 degrees outside means it’s 110+ inside. So, I don’t know how many years back, it was a really hot day and I was wearing combat boots (throw back to military days) which made it just that much hotter. So about 1:00 in the afternoon I got the brilliant idea of “I’ll just take off my shoes.” Concrete was cool and felt good. It was nice, like being 6-yrs-old again. It worked so well, the next day I just left my shoes in the car. And the following day, I just left my shoes in the car. Well, here it is years later and a lot of times I’ll wear sandals, but I can’t even find my actual shoes anymore. So that’s how it started. And it’s just a part of my every day going to work.
Working with no shoes, while it may feel really nice, it often times comes with its own little hazards. For the first 6 months, it was the most simple thing that became the most dangerous. You would think in a wood shop maybe it would be splinters or dropping things on my foot. But no, running right across the length of my shop is a seam in the concrete. You know, just like the ones you see in the sidewalk where the tree is at and it makes a little bump, maybe half an inch tall? Yeah, innocuous little thing. But for 6 months I’ve never stubbed my toes so often or as hard. It wouldn’t actually catch my toes so much as it would catch the ball of my foot and then slam my toes into the ground. Did you know most expletives don’t actually include all four letters? It seems at such times pronouncing four letters is much more difficult that it would originally seem. But after reinventing all the expletives and going through a box of band-aids, I finally got used to that stupid seem in the concrete.
So now all I have is the common problems. Sawdust isn’t bad; it’s kind of soft and squishy under your feet. I don’t waste nails or screws so they’re not on the floor all that often. And never once has my foot found one. And sometimes, yeah you drop something. But woodworkers learn early on some things are expensive and you learn to shove your foot under it, save it. And other things are sharp and you learn to dance quickly and save your foot instead. For someone who never took a lesson in my life, I dance a lot more now.
Now, the one that gets me; Sawdust is nice and squishy on the feet, but it looks like wood. So it hides the little ankle breaker blocks that come off of the items I’m working on. And that my friend, is the real threat to being barefoot in the shop. It’s as if a 6 yr old has left their toys out around you house. I now avoid the seam, without even a glance. I never drop screws or nails. But I can walk through a pile of sawdust finding the only block in a 10 foot radius and it will still drop me every time.
So with all of this in mind, if you decide to come by and visit, don’t come barefoot, you won’t be let in. I have years of being barefoot in the shop and have learned how to function safely. I’m the barefoot woodworker and you are not.