That was after eight months of unanswered resumes, costly health insurance and shrinking prospects.
On the verge of becoming an unemployment statistic, the 59-year-old Ashland resident was one of the lucky ones.
A lifetime tinkerer and guitar player, Shields capitalized on a suggestion from his wife, Cindy, to build a new career doing something he loved.
Facing an uncertain future, he transformed his basement workshop into The Inventing Shed, a self-owned business in which he repairs guitars and builds customized models on request.
Tall and rangy, Shields spends his days in his basement and a new garage workshop, fixing guitars and amplifiers and handcrafting instruments from swamp ash, burled redwood and other kinds of exotic wood.