Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Shop - If only I could just have some more space!

Shops vary in size. Some are small and some are large. No matter the size, they never seem to be big enough. Either there's not enough room for storage or there's that band saw or jointer on the wish list that if only you could shoehorn it into place, you would jump at it and make the purchase.

My shop is no different. At 250 square feet, a beginner like me should consider that all the room needed. My problem is that it's a one car garage that needs to be shared with gardening tools, a wheel barrow, various supplies for outdoors and cleaning and yes, of course, the car ... at least in the winter - Marsha hates to have to clean off the snow and, frankly, so do I (but I'd be willing to make the sacrifice and brush the snow off every time if I really had to).

In fact, when winter comes again, I have no idea on how I'm going to break everything down and cram it into a 7' x 10' space. I may have to get creative.

There are currently old kitchen cabinets on the rear wall where my mitre saw resides. I am usually making cuts on boards under 6' in length, and when I need to cut longer boards, I relocate it to my workbench temporarily but that's usually just at the beginning of the project.

I have plans to tear these out as I view them as space inefficiently used. the drawers are useful, but the configuration of the lower and upper cabinets insure that they are packed with a Hodge-podge of items. I envision a bench suitable for assembling projects with roll out cabinets for additional working surfaces and a french cleat storage board on the wall above the assembly bench. I took the idea from Fine Woodworking's website where there are plenty of ideas on shop setup. This is my version made using sketchup.

Each of the cabinets roll out and #1 has a different configuration of storage compartments and #3 is a router table with storage for bits and bases. At least, that's the dream du jour. Who knows, it may change tomorrow.

The right wall currently has my workbench and cutoffs storage as well as an overhead lumber rack.

The bench is essentially 2 separate & frankly sorry sheets of 2'x4'x3/4" plywood. I've bought all of my plywood to date from the big orange box store. An unsightly warp has developed in each one that isn't currently screwed down to the basement floor. I'm sure they're lying (pun intended) in wait to do the same. But I digress. The sheet closest to the wall has been turned into a makeshift router table and is screwed down to the sawhorses using flooring screws. The second sheet is clamped down to facilitate easy removal and access to the router table. As you can see from the picture, I use the space under the bench to store my drill press, planer, band saw (all 3 are bench top models), shop heater and Rigid vacuum and Dust Deputy. The green bin typically used for compost waste picked up by the city is currently being used as a shop stool and also as a shavings bin for when I'm hand planing.

Looking towards the front of the shop, this is where my table saw is located. I can open the garage door to execute long rips or deal with sheet goods which I typically do on the floor with a circular saw and some scrap 2x4's. The table saw is so light that shoving a full 4'x8' sheet of birch plywood threatens to tip the saw over. Not a pleasant prospect! The first time that nearly happened, I got as scared as I'm sure I would have if it was kickback (requiring a check of the shorts after the heart returns to normal speed). This area is also used for the inevitable garage inhabitants. The garbage and recycling cans. The lawnmower and wheel barrow get moved around depending on what I"m doing at the time.

There's also this monster in my shop (cough, I mean garage, cough). It's great, but I think I built it a little too big!

As I grow, I see myself building a proper bench so that I can do some of the more 'force aggressive' methods (like planing a board - see my Rambling Quickie #1 on the subject), A proper clamp rack (there are 2 areas where I keep my clamps. The long ones hang from the garage door beam seen in the photo above and the cutoffs bin for the small clamps).

I'd love to hear suggestions on how you would organize a shop of this size and shape. Before you say it, I already know and would like to clear everything non-woodworking related out. I have hope on that one. They say hope is a cardinal virtue even when it's misplaced.

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