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Shop Work Zones

a couple of years ago

For the most part construction is done in my shop. I ran out of Cherry trim (3 feet short) so I need to mill up some more to complete the cap rail but other than that, the shop remodel now is all about loading stuff back in and figuring out where to put it all. This has been a pretty cleansing process and it has left me with a blank slate. It is very refreshing and I hesitate to muck all that up by bringing in a whole bunch of stuff I rarely use. So instead I’m going to break the shop up into work zones and only put in the often used essentials. Over time I may decide to populate each zone with more stuff like wall cabinets and such but no matter what I do it will be easily moved should I decide to change the lay out.

The Command Center

workbench spaceThis is the heart of the shop and where all the work happens. In the hand tool shop this is of course the workbench. But more than the space the bench occupies but the immediate area around it that should contain all the stuff I use every day in every project. Of course my tool cabinet is now hung within reach of my bench. My saw bench, shop bents, and saw til will live next to it but just far away from the workbench that it is a separate “work zone”. Look in the bottom right corner of this image where my tool tote is peeking in and you will see where this zone will reside. The big open space under the back window is where I will place my joinery bench and a carving chisel cabinet to the right of the window on the wall. You can also see that I have already reinstalled my post drill on the opposite wall just far enough away from the bench to not be in the way yet still very accessible. The spot to the right of the drill is where my sump pump lives so I’ll be building a sharpening bench to fit over the outflow pipe and the sump itself. My current sharpening station is just too big and just begs to be filled with useless crap.

barnes no 3 latheBehind the bench under the other window you can currently see the pieces of my disassembled treadle lathe. Up until about a week ago I had intended on setting up the treadle lathe right there, but a 5 year search finally paid off and I’ll have a new toy sitting there in a few months. This is bittersweet as I sunk a lot of time and R&D into my treadle lathe but I have long said that the Barnes Number 3 is the Cadillac of foot lathes and if I every got a chance to own one I would jump on it. So for now the treadle lathe will be moth balled until I can figure out what I want to do with it. (I think I need a lathe room, I’ll accept proposals on how to convince my wife). I’ll use the open wall on either side of the lathe to add a tool and accessory rack.

The Rarely Used Stuff

shop overflowWhen I started this remodel, I bought a few of those big Rubbermaid containers to gather all the little stuff and allow me to move it out of the way easily. I also had to keep an eye on what I would need during the remodel so I wasn’t rooting through containers to find a tool when I really needed it. This really illustrated how few tools and accessories I actually use day in and day out in my projects. So the upshot to this is you can expect a tool sale post to pop up sometime soon. But there are tools you don’t use and tools you seldom use. My seldom used stuff just doesn’t have to live in the shop.

Do I actually need to unpack these containers at all. I already have a space set out under my basement stairs where these containers have been living for the last few weeks and I’m seriously considering leaving them there. I stored everything in some kind of logical order so it should be easy to find when the need arises. For example should I decide to turn a few pens, I can go dig out the sanding paper and pen vise and CA glue and pen kits. Until then do I really need to parcel out space to keep them in the shop? Even if I were to turn a single pen, the extra 5-10 minutes to pull out the gear I think is worth the extra space and less confusion day to day in the shop.

The Supply Essentials

shop supply cabinetI’m still a little shocked at just how much extra stuff I have floating around my shop that isn’t really a tool but more supplies. What’s more horrifying is how terribly I managed these supplies. This cabinet previously held nothing but finishes and finishing supplies. It was a recipe for expired finishes. So I’m giving one shelf over to finishes and finishing supplies like rags and gloves. The other shelves will hold things like glue and sand paper and hardware/screws/nails/etc. Previously these things each had their own cabinet and just got stuffed full of junk. I’m embarrassed by how many finishes I had to dump because they were LONG past their shelf life.

My Machine Room

woodshop machine roomThe front of the shop not only will hold my supplies cabinet but I’m keeping my pole lathe up here because I can easily move it out into the sunshine when the mood strikes. This lathe is pretty mobile anyway and may actually get knocked down from time to time when more space is needed. The primary reason for this space by the garage door is as a home for my planer and dust collector. My new 20″ planer takes up some space and the dust collector is essential for its operation. As stated before the joinery bench and the sharpening station (left of the door) are leaving to free up the entire space. I will maintain a small rack for current project lumber and my frame saws hang nicely underneath that rack along with a spot for my sticking board. My planer has a built in mobile base and I can move it around the space depending on the size of what I’m milling. I also consider this my overflow space and one of the reasons I’m placing my sawing area (see above) right on the edge of it where you see the sharpening station now.

Free Space at Last!

open space in the woodshopWhat is left is not assigned to anything and is my Lebensraum. (I’m taking that term back from the Nazis and making it a good thing) I’ve written about the benefits of elbow room in the shop before and the open space up front and the open back of the shop illustrate this nicely. My clamp rack on the back right wall is a happy accident but all around it I have open space. Probably my TV will live in that corner and maybe I’ll put up a cabinet as I determine I need more stuff stored in the shop. Just having the bright and open space is like taking a deep breath. Heck maybe I’ll hang some artwork!.

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