I received a post from Fine Woodworking on Facebook the other day about a survey they were doing about small shops.
The survey asked the following questions and I thought it would be fun to post my reply here at Refurbers.
Reed’s 24×28 Wood shop
My 3×4 ft. oak tool box is over 20 yrs. old and has outlasted 4 work vans.
It has 2 dovetailed drawers that are 3 ft. deep with dividers for hand tools, and dividers inside for nail guns, hand saws, blades, sand paper, and slots for chisels, screw drivers, nail sets and hole saws.
The hole in between the drawers is for 2 levels.
What power Table tools can you fit in your shop?
Delta X5 cabinet saw w/ biesemeyer fence, 50” capacity, out feed table, and rolling stand
Delta 13” 2 spd. Planer
Delta X5 6” jointer
Delta 14” band saw
Delta drill press
Delta 12” dual compound miter box
Delta sharpening center
Jet Spindle sander
Jet canister dust collector
Jet “hanging” room air cleaner
Craftsman radial arm saw
Craftsman 48” belt/ 12” disc sanding machine
Craftsman scroll saw
Porter Cable 3 hp. Plunge router, Kreg lift set in Jessem router stand and fence
Sanborn 5 hp. Compressor
Dewalt sliding compound miter box
Dewalt portable table saw, router table and miter stand for jobsites
Dewalt compressor, Senco compressor
HF sand blasting cabinet
HF 8” buffer/ grinder
3×5 metal jobsite tool boxes
6×10 trailer for tool and material delivery to big jobsites.
Misc. power, hand, antique tools
How did your tool choices affect your woodworking, or vice versa?
Like many woodworkers, I started off buying Craftsman tools because I thought they were decent tools for the money. I quickly learned you get what you pay for.
A $59.00 Craftsman drill is not the same as a $199.00 Dewalt drill. I have several old retired Makita tools that still work but not one single craftsman power tool.
I decided to buy delta table tools because they are well made, in America, and I like the way they look.
Call me wierd but I like it when all the table tools are the same brand and color. I would have chosen Powermatic but I hated that bird poop yellow. ha!
The white Jet lathe and dust collector were an impulse buy at a wood show. I dont mind white as much and I like Jet tools.
Money was always tight and spent on other priorities rather than tools. I tried to buy expensive table tools only if I had a specific job that required it. I budgeted it so the job paid for the tool.
For instance, one time, I included the cost of a band saw in the bid to make 24 – 36” long, 6×6 arched cedar brackets for a huge front porch of a house. The bid went from 3200 to 3700 and they didn’t even blink an eye. My wife, the boss said OK, I can buy it!
BTW – I did several honey do projects on the rest of the house – N/C. It all worked out.
The used radial arm saw and sanding machine are from a garage sale, although I’m not a fan of used equipment. To me, half price means half gone.
The Delta X5 cabinet saw is perfect because it’s big, heavy and stable which makes a good a work table, especially with the out feed table. It’s on a roller stand so I can move it if needed. All my table tools are on roller stands.
How do you organize tools?
The tools are easily accessible and arranged in groups on slat board above the recycled cabinets, in a craftsman mechanic’s tool box and in the 12×12 tool shed
Did you eliminate stationary tools altogether and opt for benchtop or handheld models?
You mean, did I buy a benchtop tool instead of a table tool?
I always wanted to get a delta shaper but turns out the router table was all I needed. Same thing with the planer. I wanted to get the big 15” 3hp. Delta but this 13” planer is all you will need if you’re in a small shop.
But, the table saw should be big because more than likely it will also be one of your work benches. Portable table saws are usually best for temporary use on job sites.
Have you opted for hand tools only?
You mean, do I prefer to use hand tools?
I use the tool that’s best for the job. I have no desire to use a hand tool when a power tool will be just as good and faster. However, I still prefer to cope my crown by hand rather than use a grinder or a jigsaw. Unless it’s hardwood. It’s definitely a personal choice for each tool type.
But, if you’re like Roy Underhill, then break out the spoke shave and make some stools!
My grandfather’s commemorative tool box posted on LJ was an exception.
I hand cut the joinery and ¼” dovetails on all 4 corners of the 6 walnut drawers as a way to show respect to him and all of the craftsmen that built the old elaborate mansions with nothing more than simple hand tools. It took forever but I did it. Once.
How do you store tools, both hand and power tools?
I have an attached 12×12 tool shed for the cords, air hoses, framing guns, skill saws, Dewalt table saw, miter stand and compressor, drop clothes and tarps, gun nails and screws, plumbing and electrical supplies – you name it. This stuff can really create clutter in a shop and it gets all dusty too.
Where do you keep lumber and supplies?
I vaulted ½ the garage ceiling by installing a ridge beam, tripled the center ceiling joist, added a metal column for added support and installed ¾ plywood for a 12×24 storage area above.
I attached ½” conduit across the bottom of the joists for 8×24 trim storage between the joists. I can store 12- 16, 4×8s behind the miter saw bench and I installed 4 rows of 16” HD shelving above the plywood and behind the band saw.
There is a short material bin behind the lathe that is 2ft. tall x 16” deep x 8 ft. long, divided into 5 sections.
The base cabinets have pull out shelves for screws and misc. hardware. The drawers are full of hardware and misc. tools. The corner lazy Susan is full of stain, thinner, fillers, and finishing mat.
I salvaged several 4ft, long metal screw bins from O’Neil’s True value when they went out of business. I have screws in them from ¾” to 4 ½”, nuts and bolts, biscuits and dowels, sand blocks and sand discs, nail guns and trim nails, electrical and plumbing components.
I also have a 4’ x 20’ covered wood rack behind the shop for exterior plywood and framing mat., 4 ext. ladders, 20’ plank, and several folding ladders.
How do you store clamps, long and short?
Nothing too fancy needed really. I bolted a treated 2×6- 4ft. long padded out 3/4” with the top angled back at 10 degrees for all the medium ¾” pipe clamps, I have a variety of bar clamps and wood clamps on the slat board in groups of 4. The 6-8 ft. bar clamps are stored up above in 2” PVC pipes.
Workbenches and tables
What kind of workbenches and worktables do you have?
The main workbench is 42” x 8ft. and is made from 3 re purposed oak drawer base kitchen cabinets. I made the top from 2 sheets of ¾” plywood and covered it with matching gray Formica with 2” solid oak with chamfered edges. I plan on cutting square holes for dogs and holes for a downdraft sanding station on the other end.
It’s not that pretty to look at but it holds a ton of tools in the 3 big drawers. I’ve thought about building a fancier bench but recycling is great when it makes sense. Some day, I’ll build a Roubo bench….maybe.
The 10 ft long x 2’ x 40” tall miter/ radial arm saw table has a middle shelf. Left to right: a spot for a plugged in 3” belt sander, short cut offs, 4 re purposed oak DT drawers for saw blades and jigs. Then the tool cases, misc. materials and a tile saw.
The miter box and 8ft long material support can be removed with 4 screws to reveal the radial arm saw and another fence with a stop. I hated the craftsman radial arm saw’s flimsy metal legs so I removed them and built the saw in to the new bench.
You can reach under to adjust the height and it has a dust collector. Rotate it sideways when not in use. The Formica top and shelf came out of a dumpster behind Sears.
Occasionally, a radial arm saw is really nice to have, like cutting dadoes, but I wouldn’t want one in a small shop because they are so huge. This solves everything.
How do you handle dust?
The Jet 2 stage Canister dust collector is great. I have it located as close to the center of the shop to avoid tripping over 4” hoses like it was before. There’s a T with a gate set up for the 2” collector pipe which spans the shop above to pick up the dust from the radial arm saw and the sanding machine.
I use a designated Rigid shop vac for the router table just because it’s easier to empty and switch on and off.
There is a Jet shop air cleaner hanging above, dead center. This machine is so quiet, I leave it on all the time.
I like to blow off everything at the end of the day, hit the 30 min. delay timer and run. Nice clean air in the shop the next morning.
Even with all of this, it still gets ½ thick during a project and you have to break out the brooms and vacuum.
My favorite? Open the garage door and grab the leaf blower…. Now we’re talkin.
Do you have a unique way of lighting the space?
How do you arrange power outlets?
I grabbed 6 old 2×4 light fixtures out of a dumpster (again) and surface mounted them on the vaulted drywalled ceiling. There are switched shop lights mounted under a melamine shelf above the slat board and over the lathe.
I have a designated magnetic task light for the band saw. Very nice.
There is a continuous (outlet every 12”) power strip around the room just under the slat board.
Do you have an Alarm, stereo or TV set up in your shop?
I have 4 motion sensor lights around my shop and one inside, an alarm and computerized video recording system, monitored by KEYTH alarm systems with a school bell inside that will shatter your eyeballs,
2 motion sensors inside, hard wired door contacts, double dead bolts, 250 lbs. of barking golden retrievers (danger of being licked to death), surrounded by 4 neighbors that are at home mothers and a retired guy,
Lastly, there are booby traps, laser beams and a loaded Smith and Wesson 357 with a sign in front that says:
I enjoy working with the radio on. Working alone for 8-10 hrs. on a project sometimes requires a little mood enhancing stimulus like music or a TV for back ground noise.
I have a 600 watt Sony Home theater system with infinity surround speakers and a sub woofer, DVD, I pod touch, a new 42” flat screen (not shown) and DVR. I also have cordless noise cancelling stereo headphones.
What’s your secret to working efficiently in the space?
This sounds ass backwards, but I start the day by cleaning the shop and staging the tools or putting them away. Think about it. you work on a project to the last minute and your are covered in dust, cross eyed and beat, something is usually clamped and drying.
Blow yourself off and start fresh in the morning. Keep in mind, I try to put stuff away throughout the day but it just gets away from you if your project is going fast.
On the job site, if you break out a tool, my guideline is don’t put it away until the end of the day. Same applies in the shop. You can spend 20% of your time spit shining and putting them back on the pegboard. When I estimate time on a cabinet job I figure I lose almost 2 hrs. for every 8 hrs. just moving stuff out of the way, setting up jigs, organizing tools and clean up.
Do you finish in the space? If so, how do you handle harmful fumes?
Only small projects. I used to stain and spray finish big projects in the shop by building a spray booth with hanging plastic just because I liked to do everything myself. But not anymore.
You have to find a good spray finisher and let him do what he does best. You avoid any liability on the finish with his warranty and you can’t duplicate the vent system of a spray booth. You also avoid all that over spray on everything in your shop and breathing some nasty stuff. For small projects I have a decent dust mask, a Jet air cleaner and an exhaust vent in the ceiling.
Well, it was fun putting this in writing. I hope it wasn’t too long winded.
So, If you’re ever in the area, stop by for a visit or a dip in the pool!.... glad to have ya.
Ps. did I mention I have a small fridge full of Coronas and Heineken?
-- mark - Grayslake IL.