Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 12: Fun in the Sun, Lake Style

Chris Judge and Alex Haider build a wooden cooler for drinks.

By Alex Haider

I appreciate upcycling and saving things from going to the landfill as much as the next person - maybe more than some - but holy cow, Chris Judge is in a league of his own. That guy keeps everything. He truly believes all should be kept just in case. The worst part about it is that in my time working at the workshop, it turns out he’s right. So many things that were just lying around are now something useful. I love it. 

Now the word is spreading, which is how Chris’ friend, Nicole, ended up bringing us four great big plastic barrels. Honestly, Chris is such a smooth talker that everyone wants to help him out in the workshop’s community projects. It’s really great. On the flip side, with so much support the workshop is able to give back. Chris was talking to some people at Orenda Canoe Club, not far from the workshop. During the conversation it came out they had docks for the paddlers, but not for the swimmers. Orenda is walking distance for a lot of the people in the community, so a dock would be a great addition. 

Next thing I know I’m building a floating dock. We did a lot of prep work back at the workshop, then Orenda volunteers helped us build the dock. We made it out of cedar, and besides its fantastic smell, the floating dock will look even better as it ages. 

Our road trip to the lake got us thinking about when we were kids. (I’m starting to reminisce as much as Chris!) We both loved swimming. We both love kicking back at a lake and maybe having a few beverages. Chris decided we needed a cooler, and not just any cooler, a cooler on wheels with multiple compartments for ice. (No food cross-contamination!) 

When I first started helping Chris at the workshop, I was a little timid about some of the tools, but I can say with confidence that I have gotten rid of any fear. I really enjoy planning, measuring and problem solving. You know, like when the fabulous cooler on wheels didn’t fit through the door of the workshop. (Yes, that happened. Stop laughing!) 

Suffice it to say the floating dock and cooler will see many happy times. 

Eyes for the Job airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 11: Upcycle, Bicycle, Steampunk

By Alex Haider

One of the best things that’s happened to me lately is reconnecting with Chris and getting involved with the Main Street Community Workshop. I’ve always been big on social media and thought that made me part of the community, but now I see that I was part of just that one community. Chris and the workshop are introducing me to so many people. There’s so much going on locally and many more communities who are engaged and active. 

Just this week, Chris and I were invited to a steampunk party. If you’re like me and not familiar with steampunk, it’s “a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy.” It was awesome. All these people come together to celebrate steampunk. They even found outfits for Chris and I to wear. 

Wanda organized the party and we thought it would be nice if we could reciprocate her kindness. She was pretty happy to take us up on our offer. Wanda had a project in mind for us, so off we went to her house, which I have to say was one of the funkiest and coolest decorated places I’ve ever seen. 

And there it was right on the lawn: an armoire. It had seen better days, but had life left in it. It was a perfect job for us. Wanda, Chris and I did some deconstructing before putting it all back together again with – get this – a secret hiding spot. We cut up old books (to the horror of Andrew, Wanda’s librarian husband) to make the hiding spot. They’re going to stash cat treats in there. Hopefully, the cats can’t break into it. 

Later in the week, I met Chris’ friend, Jessica, for the first time. She is involved in the local bicycle community. We had set up an area in the workshop for people to work on their bikes, but Jessica gave us some tough love and said it wasn’t an ideal space for that. Instead, we turned it into a bike storage space. Jessica pitched right in. 

And to top off a great week, Chris and I rode a tandem bicycle! In public. With all kinds of people around and no one was hurt or injured. Chris, of course, offered to steer, but for the safety of all those people (and me!), I took the wheel. It was so much fun. Jessica came with us and kept us on track (literally and figuratively). 

The workshop has become such a big part of my life. Chris and I make a great team since we both have different backgrounds and talents. I can’t wait to see what we do next. 

Eyes for the Job airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 10: Living Room, Living Life, Living Memories

By Alex Haider

It seems like the more projects we do, the more stuff we have. Every project seems to generate more materials than it took to do it. It seems to happen every time. And of course, Chris hates to throw out anything – especially wood. But the more I have around the workshop, the more I agree with him. It’s a great challenge to figure out how to use items in a new way. 

It even seems like our timing is fantastic too. One of the workshoppers, Liz, stopped by and we all got talking. She has a pretty big family with kids, fish, cats and a dog. She asked if we’d be willing to help her with a feature wall. And, of course, we said yes. 

It was an ideal way to use about some of the wood that’s around here. We have wood from a table we upcycled, the organs, the guitar shelf, the loft bed ... you get the idea: we got wood. All the wood had its own stories, which adds to the story of Liz’s family. 

Liz is pretty easygoing, so she was just happy for us to make the feature wall. Of course, her plate is full, which is part of the reason we were happy to do something nice for her. It was the wall of many, many cuts but beautiful. Some of the wood was untreated, so we used vinegar and steel wool to stain it. It smelled a little like pickles in her living room, but the smell will fade … right? 

After we got the wall finished, it was obvious a little something else was needed and of course, we still had wood. We put out a call out on social media and Brooklyn answered and offered to come by. When she did come by, she seemed pretty excited to try some new DIY projects in the workshop. 

Liz had given us some art that her kids had made and family photos, so the three of us started rattling around in our wood scraps. The organ wood was so beautiful and full of character; it was an obvious choice to make a frame. 

And poor Brooklyn, it was her first time in the workshop so she was learning to use unfamiliar tools and Chris just had to tease her. He loves to pull the blind guy getting injured trick. He thinks it never gets old. Brooklyn and I reminded him of the little boy who cried wolf story, but it didn’t seem to have much impact! LOL. I suspect I’ll be seeing that trick again. (Hopefully not for real.) 

We managed to find unique and personal frames for Liz’s photos and arts. We put them up on the wall and the whole family was pleased. Like I said, it is so rewarding helping Chris make projects for people in the community. 

Eyes for the Job airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 9: Kids, Kids, Kids!

By Alex Haider

Crash, bang, boom. My poor ears are still hurting, but it was all for a good cause. We, hopefully, helped to improve the lives of some local kids. 

It all started when Chris and I had time on our hands. I thought it would be a good idea to organize our shelving unit. Turns out we had a few too many old paint cans. Then we started thinking about a sound garden. Chris got reminiscing (like he does) about how important sound was as a blind child. 

It sounded like a great idea and a way to minimize the number of paint cans going to the landfill. Gwen happened to be at the workshop that day. She’s an American Sign Language interpreter who also works with kids. Right away she thought of a great place for a sound garden. 

There’s a place quite close by the workshop that has a massive xylophone outside called AKOMA Family Centre. Gwen told us it’s a residential facility for children from three to 13 with development and behavioral needs. We rattled around the workshop a little more and found enough stuff to make seven stations to add to their existing xylophone. 

We built the stations with Gwen’s help and loaded it up in the truck. Everything fit together quite well and the kids were so excited. When we got back to the shop from installing the sound garden, Jennifer and her son Rylan were there. Jennifer is a real inspiration to Chris and me. She gives so much to the community; if we do half what she does, the workshop will be a real success.

That’s why we had no problem chipping in to help Jennifer with her own project. She and Rylan had started work on a loft bed. It was one sturdy bed! We got it fitted together in the workshop then dismantled it to install at their house. Rylan was so pleased. It’ll serve him well for years. 
 

Eyes for the Job airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 8: Music to my Beers

By Alex Haider

We’ve had so much fun since Chris and I started working together at the Main Street Community Workshop. We really have met so many people and heard so many fantastic stories about families. Even those I would never expect to be sentimental are when you scratch the surface. Chris is great at putting people at ease, so they are always opening up to him. (Even when we’re just picking up a drink or lunch!) 

Most of the stories have been lighthearted, but one of our workshoppers, Jim, told us about an organization he started. Jim is a Canadian Armed Forces veteran and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Jim credits his guitar with helping him deal with PTSD and this belief is what prompted him to start the Guitars for Vets Canada in 2015. So far, the organization has served over 1,000 former and current members of the military and has more than 100 volunteers across Canada. 

Jim is committed to helping fellow veterans, but he’s also very community minded, which is how he ended up showing up at the workshop with three (yes, three) road cases. Road cases are what bands use to transport their musical equipment and someone donated them to Guitars for Vets. They didn’t really have a use for them, so he thought of us. 

In fact, Jim’s so community minded he helped us turn the road cases into something new. To be honest, they weren’t much use to the workshop either, so we decided they’d make a cool coffee table. We took them apart and used the outside metal parts to make the table stronger. The result was a reinforced coffee table that can also serve as storage, a bench, and has its own story. 

After we got done the coffee table, Brett showed up with a guitar. Brett’s not just one of our new workshoppers; he’s a musician and studio engineer. Anyway, he appeared with this banged-up guitar under his arm and one strum showed it had seen better days. This time we decided it would make a guitar shelf. So, Brett hung out with us to make it. 

We ended up cutting the guitar up some (well, quite a bit), which just about made Brett cry real tears! After adding LED lights and a coat of coffee stain, we delivered it to Jim at Guitars for Vets to thank him for the guitar cases. It’s been a great few days working with two musicians and upcycling some music equipment. 

Eyes for the Job airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 7: Reduce, Reuse, Re-LOVE

By Alex Haider

I’ve been living on my own for the past few years and while I have a small apartment, everything in it has a story. Some furniture was handed down to me, and even if it’s not the fanciest, I love that someone I know had it before me. Every time I move, I end up on Kijiji looking for new things because I really feel the need to nest when I get a new place. 

The people I have met in the past few days have taken that to a new level. Chris and I took a trip to a place called relove just this week. It’s a fabulous workshop run by a guy named Steve. He and his partner do everything they can to make sure furniture does not end up in the landfill. They even have a 100 per cent no waste policy - even the sawdust goes in the compost. He took the most ordinary melamine table and combined it with a few old boards from a fence. Yes, a fence! It made the coolest little table and it’s 100 per cent unique. Like Steve said, every one of their pieces has its own story.  

As you can imagine, Chris and I were totally inspired by this. I had an old bureau, which was not at all to my taste, so I decided to gift it to the workshop. Then my friend Heather came by. She’s a great DIYer and writes a blog about her projects. The three of us had a great discussion and decided to make the bulky dresser into a bench. 

The workshop is getting more organized and the bench will be a great place for people to come in and sit down. They can change their shoes or check their phones (yes, that was my suggestion!). Chris is really committed to making the workshop as homey as possible. 

The dresser might not have been much to look at it, but it was built to last. It took quite a bit of effort for the three of us to get it apart. After that, we cracked open the serenity blue paint. It’s a great colour. I’m not sure if it will make the workshop a totally serene place, but it will help. 

Heather is an experienced sewer, so she volunteered to sew a cushion for the top of the bench. Meanwhile, Chris and I slipped out to look for some fabric. We ended up at a pop-up shop where we met Stevie. Stevie’s shop sells plus-size clothing for women. We had a great chat with her. 

Chris asked Stevie what inspired her to start a business selling plus-size clothes. Stevie and her friends noticed a real lack of choices. There just wasn’t much around locally and if they did order online, the clothes didn’t always fit. So now they use the pop-up to sell instead of making returns, which increases choices locally. 

We had a great chat with Stevie and found something Heather could make a cushion cover out of. With our teamwork, the bench has turned out great.

Eyes for the Job airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 6: (Pump) Organ Donor

By Alex Haider

It seems like the more projects we do, the more stuff we have. Every project seems to generate more materials than it took to do it. It seems to happen every time. And of course, Chris hates to throw out anything – especially wood. But the more I have around the workshop, the more I agree with him. It’s a great challenge to figure out how to use items in a new way. 

It even seems like our timing is fantastic too. One of the workshoppers, Liz, stopped by and we all got talking. She has a pretty big family with kids, fish, cats and a dog. She asked if we’d be willing to help her with a feature wall. And, of course, we said yes. 

It was an ideal way to use about some of the wood that’s around here. We have wood from a table we upcycled, the organs, the guitar shelf, the loft bed ... you get the idea: we got wood. All the wood had its own stories, which adds to the story of Liz’s family. 

Liz is pretty easygoing, so she was just happy for us to make the feature wall. Of course, her plate is full, which is part of the reason we were happy to do something nice for her. It was the wall of many, many cuts but beautiful. Some of the wood was untreated, so we used vinegar and steel wool to stain it. It smelled a little like pickles in her living room, but the smell will fade … right? 

After we got the wall finished, it was obvious a little something else was needed and of course, we still had wood. We put out a call out on social media and Brooklyn answered and offered to come by. When she did come by, she seemed pretty excited to try some new DIY projects in the workshop. 

Liz had given us some art that her kids had made and family photos, so the three of us started rattling around in our wood scraps. The organ wood was so beautiful and full of character; it was an obvious choice to make a frame. 

And poor Brooklyn, it was her first time in the workshop so she was learning to use unfamiliar tools and Chris just had to tease her. He loves to pull the blind guy getting injured trick. He thinks it never gets old. Brooklyn and I reminded him of the little boy who cried wolf story, but it didn’t seem to have much impact! LOL. I suspect I’ll be seeing that trick again. (Hopefully not for real.) 

We managed to find unique and personal frames for Liz’s photos and arts. We put them up on the wall and the whole family was pleased. Like I said, it is so rewarding helping Chris make projects for people in the community. 
 

Eyes for the Job airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 5: Fire Pit, Big Hit!

By Alex Haider

Chris and I have done some hard labour over the past few days and it was truly rewarding. We both know a couple named Ashley and Aimee who just had a baby named Avery. They are the sweetest family and we wanted to do something special for them. We talked about it for ages and somehow ended up reminiscing about things we liked when we were kids. Turns out we both love a campfire.  

Chris was a boy scout when he was a kid and always had a fire when they went camping. He’s still a camper and can go on for hours about the smells and sounds of a campfire. (Trust me, he can!) I’m a fan of the backyard campfire too, especially the accompanying S'mores. We both got so sentimental we decided Aimee and Ashley needed a fire pit in their yard to make family memories. 

The next thing I knew, I was digging a hole in Ashley’s and Aimee’s backyard! OK, I’m kidding, but only by a little. We made a giant wooden doughnut (yes, we really did) to make a form, which created custom stones for the outside of the pit. This involved making many, many “kerf” cuts on the chop saw. (I am learning so much about building and DIY!) Oh, and some first aid was required. Don’t worry: there was no scarring, but I definitely feel like a real workshopper now. 

Making the custom stones was harder than we hoped, but the stones are beautiful. Ashley, Aimee and even Avery all made lasting impressions in the stones so when they have a fire they’re surrounded by beautiful memories while they make new ones. Once we had the fire pit in place, we realized they needed somewhere to sit. Of course! 

We decided it would be great to make something really rustic and natural, so log seats came to mind. Where better to get logs than from the oldest forest in the province? We took a beautiful road trip to Windhorse Farm where Jim Drescher took us on a walk through the forest. 

It was so ethereal, it reminded me of a line from a poem I read back in high school. Of course, my friend the Internet helped me find the exact words: “The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more." -Ralph Waldo Emerson. Like I said, I am learning so much from being at the workshop with Chris. 

In the end, we installed the gorgeous benches cut by Justin in his workshop. Aimee and Ashley invited us over for their first fire, so Chris and I are happy to play a part in this family’s memories. 

Eyes for the Job airs Tuesdays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog - Episode 4: Strike While the Steel is Hot

By Alex Haider

Things have been going so well at the Main Street Community Workshop that our success is bringing new challenges. Chris is so great at DIY and finding solutions, and I’ve been learning and working away on social media to bring in new people. We’ve had tons of folks reach out who have projects they’d like help with. Some people just want the chance to work in a workshop and help. 

All of which is great, obviously, but (you knew there was a “but” didn’t you?) the other day when we arrived, there was a mess. This is a serious issue with Chris being blind because he could fall over something and get hurt. We really want the workshop to be the kind of place where everyone feels welcome and there aren’t all kinds of rules. But we also want to have the kind of place where we have what we need where and when we need it, and everyone is in a safe environment. 

So far, we have established that we want a safe, accessible and welcoming workshop. On top of that, we want to be environmentally friendly with the good ol’ three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle). This reminds me of the conversation we had about living in small apartments and how that requires a very minimalist approach to life. It’s about making conscious choices about how we live in the world. 

Working at the workshop is giving me so much on so many levels! It’s fun and rewarding and making me think about how I live my life and what I can give back to my community. In this case, Chris and I can help the workshop community by building a fabulous outdoor waste storage system. That will ensure what comes in to the shop is sorted properly, making the workshop better and lessening our impact on the environment. We even took a road trip to Halifax Seed. Neither Chris nor I had been there before, and it’s been in the city for over 150 years. (Even longer than Chris!) 

After figuring out how to organize and sort our own recyclables, we heard about a daycare that could use a chicken coop. Yup, a chicken coop at a daycare! The owner, Louann, told us it’s a nature-based daycare and they were looking for something to do with the compost. Turns out chickens can make use of the compost and they’re good for the kids. Louann says the chickens help the kids stay focused and calm and that caring for the chickens really engages them. 

In the end, the chicken coop is going to provide a way for the daycare to dispose of waste that doesn’t negatively impact the environment and it’s good for connecting the kids to nature. Did I mention it’s painted blue and white, so it adds a little Mediterranean vibe to the daycare? I love it when a plan comes together! 

Eyes for the Job airs Tuesdays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog - Episode 3: Murphy’s Law

By Alex Haider

Chris and I just did two projects for some people in the community at the workshop and holy cow, a black cat must have crossed our paths because we had more than a few moments of bad luck. And, to make it even weirder, we were building a Murphy bed and a table that folds up like a Murphy bed. I’ve heard people talk about Murphy’s Law before, I know what’s all about now! 

It all started when we couldn’t find the Murphy’s Oil Soap. We looked everywhere, and, for some weird reason, it was in a picnic cooler on a shelf. Even when we finally did find it, it was useless, because guess what? Empty! We don’t know who emptied and stashed the empty bottle, but we’re going to have to remind the workshoppers to let us know when something runs out. It really is there for everyone to use, but it’s like putting the end of the orange juice back in the fridge - just don’t do it! 

Where was I? Oh, yes, at the workshop. While we were trying to get the Murphy’s Oil Soap situation under control, Lori showed up at the workshop. She had ordered a kit online to make a Murphy’s bed for her son as a surprise. Well the surprise was on Lori because it was nowhere near as easy as she’d hoped. Like Chris said, it seems like Murphy’s Law visited a Murphy bed. 

With Chris leading the way, we managed to wrangle the bed kit into submission and Lori’s son was very pleased. One thing about working in the workshop that I’m really enjoying (besides, of course, working with Chris!) is being able to help people. I’m really beginning to see how we can make people’s lives better with home improvement projects. 

Then, I got a call from a friend of mine who knows a couple living in a teeny-tiny apartment (not unlike myself!). They had an antique table and were open to anything. Chris and I threw around some ideas. And, of course, Chris reminisced! In the end, we came up with a great solution to their problem: A Murphy table and combined spice rack. It sounds like an odd combination, but it’s fabulous and a great use of space. It fit into their apartment well and looks great too. 

Murphy’s Law may have been at work, but it didn’t matter in the end. It is so cool to work with Chris on these projects. 

Eyes for the Job airs Tuesdays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog - Episode 2: Getting Untangled

By Alex Haider

This is our second blog post for Eyes for the Job, and while I’ll likely do most of the writing (talking!), Chris has informed me that I better not forget him in the blog. Like I said, Chris is a great guy and a real friend to me (Don’t tell him I said that, it’ll go to his head!). He’s pretty funny (in a dad joke kind of way) and, if I’m honest, he’s very supportive. 

Just this week, we decided to build a desk for the workshop. We had a tangle of wires from our various gadgets, and a workspace would help keep us organized. Chris suggested a metal and wood desk and remembered that David “Gump” Harrison, one of our friends, is a welder. To be honest, I was a little scared. I looked up welding online and ended up on a welding site with a dictionary of slang (let’s just say bird poop, dogleg and alligator cut all came up), so that wasn’t super helpful. 

But when Gump showed up with his sweet ride stuffed full of gear, I knew we were in safe hands. Chris had tried welding once before and Gump was impressed. He couldn’t believe how Chris can weld by sound alone. I tried to weld by sound too, but the results were not quite the same quality. I did get a round of applause from Chris for my welding, but like I said, he’s very supportive. In the end, the desk has plenty of room for both of us and looks fabulous. 

In the middle of building the desk, Chris got a call from David, another workshop member and friend. David is into the environment and the local food movement. He is part of a group called Transition Bay St Margarets, which is all about creating projects for resilience, such as local gardening, co-op greenhouses, other food production and distribution, skills training, transportation and energy options and local currencies.
  
Our interest was piqued. Chris and I both grew up around gardeners; my mom grew herbs and flowers and Chris’ family grew a lot of different stuff. David was building a geodesic dome greenhouse. So, of course, it was a great excuse for our first road trip. David lives in a beautiful area and rounded up a few of his neighbours to help with the build. 

The dome was mostly assembled when we arrived, so we just had to add plastic and a door, which turned out to be not quite as easy as it sounds. Aside from the dome, we built raised beds. It all came together so well and I can’t wait to see how things grow! I love the idea of controlling not just the food I eat, but what’s in the food I eat. 

David’s dome is going to be a great resource for him and the other people involved in Transition Bay St Margarets. It was really great to see that community pulling together to make a positive impact. It makes me think the workshop could use its own garden. Then we’d have access to fresh food all the time. Hmm…

Eyes for the Job airs Tuesdays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Eyes for the Job Blog – Episode 1: Here we go!

By Alex Haider

Wow, just wow. That’s all I can say after the past few weeks. So much has happened! Where should I start? Well, as many of you know, I love social media! (Yes, maybe a little too much!) Well, I finally found the perfect opportunity to help out AND use my mad social media skills. There’s a new workshop not far from my house called the Main Street Community Workshop and turns out my friend, Chris Judge, is going to be helping out there. 

Chris is a great guy, but the really cool thing is he’s a blind builder. He’s really an inspiration to me because he never lets anything get in his way. Now he’s going to teach me about building and I’m going to help him with social media for the workshop. I’m so pumped! 

I’ve already started and it’s so great. The first thing we did was work on getting the workshop set up. It has to be not just efficient, but safe and accessible for anyone who might want to use it. I’m told the professionals call that workflow. 

The workshop has lots of space, but to be honest, it was kind of messy and not the best for Chris to navigate amongst all that lumber. So, to get the lumber organized, we set up a combined storage rack and mitre saw “thingy.” And yes, I did just use the word “mitre” and yes, I know what it is AND how to use one. I also used a chop saw, a drill and a power sander. All while rocking some fine safety glasses. 

Next, we set up a dust collector. I’m not one who’s bothered by a little bit of dust, but it turns out it can have some seriously negative effects on your health. So dust collection in a workshop is a must have. (Especially when it turns on and off with a remote starter just like a car! Too cool.) 

The funniest moment of the dust collection installation? The look on Andrew the installer’s face when he heard that Chris put a barbeque together by himself! Chris kills me! 

Once we got the whole thing set up we were so ready to show off the workshop. There was so much buzz from my social media feed we had to make a wait list of people wanting to see the shop. 

I’m so proud to have played a part in building something that so many people can access. There were moms and kids, single people and just so many people who are into it. It was super cool to see that the mitre saw is accessible for people who use wheelchairs!

People loved the tools and the chill zone, but I can already see that there are things we can add that will make it better for all of us to use. I can’t wait to fire up those tools again! 

Eyes for the Job airs Tuesdays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET on AMI-tv. Check your local listings for the AMI-tv channel in your area or use AMI’s online channel guide. Episodes will be available online at AMI.ca after the initial broadcast.

The complete first season of Eyes for the Job is available to stream online at AMI.ca or on the AMI app.

Keywords: Eyes for the Job, Chris Judge, Alex Haider, DIY, woodworking, community, workshop, home improvement, renovations