The Art of Encouraging and Supporting Shop Projects From Afar


One of the many shop projects I’ve witnessed over the years: converting my old family car (Ford Explorer) into a “ranch pickup”…on Mother’s Day.

This column was originally published September 25, 2013

It’s a good idea for wives to show genuine interest in their husband’s projects, but discretion is advised.

Supporting my spouse’s projects demonstrates that I’m interested in and appreciate what he does around here. Being his project cheerleader is also good practice when I need his help and man skills/tools on my own projects.

Even if I don’t understand his shop and welding language, he’ll talk about and show me what he’s done. Most of his projects pertain to useful ranch upgrades, whether they enhance equipment, make systems for chores easier, or diversify the use of an old trailer.

Gathering information about the project before he leaves the house allows me to inquire about it later and show my interest in his work from afar—when he comes into the house for something, like food and water. Pre-project interest prevents premature shop visiting and gives me an idea when I can enter the shop without fear of getting sucked into grunt work or dirtying up my clean clothes and shoes. During the planning and building stages I run the risk of getting sucked into doing tasks to not suited to my impatient nature.

When I go out to the shop to show my interest and pride in his project I end up doing things I don’t enjoy. It all starts with an innocent request like handing him a grease rag. Before long I’m holding the treble light at a specific angle that I can’t rest on something while holding it. Gradually, the requests get bigger, and I’m asked to hold an end of a chunk of metal or wood in the air and not move it once he’s set it in place, but while he goes after some tool or pencil, my arms get tired and I accidently move it. The worst is being asked to watch the ground when he’s working outside of the shop doors. I’m supposed to scan the ground for sparks igniting surrounding grass while he’s welding. This can kill a restless person. Pretty soon I’m fetching a glove, rag, hammer, wing nut, tool I’m not familiar with,—and my personal favorite—any size wrench. The thing about wrenches is that I have to look at the size stamped on each one to determine if it’s the right one. Reading so many different fractions causes me to forget which one he wanted.

Assuming I can venture out there to look over the progress of a shop project, praise and marvel at his talents briefly, and slip back out is just asking to get waylaid. Good clothes or at minimum clean clothes don’t fair well when asked to handle objects that are dust or grease-covered and lying on the grungy shop floor. Many times I’ve mistakenly thought my husband would notice my neat and clean attire or didn’t expect to be there long enough to get dirty. That mindset is what has gotten my clothes smudged; myself put to work, or both. No man is going to notice a woman’s garments because all he sees is that some flunky just waltzed in who can hold stuff or fetch things for him now.

I enjoy seeing my spouse’s handiwork, but I should know better than to go to the shop while a project is developing. As a kid I was a victim of this luring-bystanders-into-fetching-and-holding-things man trait in my dad’s shop.

My secret to praising and viewing my husband’s projects without having to fetch things and get dirty is to tell my husband I’ll have lemonade made and his favorite meal ready at noon.

© Amy Kirk 2013

2 responses to “The Art of Encouraging and Supporting Shop Projects From Afar”

  1. J. Welder Avatar

    “My secret to praising and viewing my husband’s projects without having to fetch things and get dirty is to tell my husband I’ll have lemonade made and his favorite meal ready at noon.”

    Ha ha ha – that explains why my mrs use to just ring me in the back workshop saying lunch was ready. She was just as worried about getting roped in to hold something while I weld…

  2. Sandy Avatar

    Funny, i enjoy seeing my spouse’s handiwork too ! Heh !

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