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Fully-Loaded Home Woodworking
Some home shop are less limited by space and cost and allow the build of a full featured shop. Most of us can only dream of such a space, but you can still make use of some of their ideas. Take a look around and think about what you could accomplish with one of these woodworking shops of your own.
Water Front Wood Working Shop Ned Thompson's wife Margo never liked the wood shop Ned kept for 23 years in their Portsmouth home's basement. Every time he cut something, sawdust would seep up through the old floorboards into the living room. Ned, who owns a company that manufactures all-purpose canvas, wasn’t thrilled about the space either. It was dark and he didn’t like hiding himself away when he wanted to indulge in his hobby, which was several times a week. When they moved across town to an 18th century Colonial on the Piscataqua River both the Thompson's were much happier. Ned got a small but bright outbuilding that he could happily renovate into a wood shop. Margo got a dust-free living room.
Measuring 32×48', Dale Toms Virginia, workshop is pretty good size. It has to be, because Dale needs the space to put all the tools he has acquired since he and his wife, Debbie, made an arrangement 16 years ago. Dale was a heavy smoker back then, so Debbie proposed this: For every 30 days Dale could go without a cigarette, he could buy any tool he wanted, no questions asked.
Outside Elizabeth, Colorado, on the eastern slope of the Rockies sits a 18'x28'6'' workshop which lacks a view but not much else. Contained within a larger metal structure, that used to house his concrete business, the shop is surrounded by hallways and small offices once used by his employees. "We built those offices for the business, and it took my view away," says John, 66. No matter. After spending most of his life on this 41-acre home site, John is well aware of the scenery.
After years of leasing buildings that they had to turn into wood shops, appling lessons they had learned into building a shop from the ground up that was designed specifically for woodworking. Their ideal shop would have plenty of natural light, easy access to bring in large pieces of lumber and sheet goods, appropriate wiring for three-phase and single-phase machines, and, finally, a comfortable floor. The result became their dream shop in the woods. The exterior is redwood board and batten, and the roof is steel painted dark green. Sixteen skylights pierce the roof and produce a strong, diffuse light through the interior. The footprint is 60 ft. by 50 ft., which includes a 10-ft. by 60-ft. unenclosed extension that runs the length of the building where they keep rough lumber and a panel saw for cutting large sheet materials.
Nestled in the forest on a shore of a lake in central Washington State, Mike Walker's 1,670-square-foot workshop is the epitome of organization. From the outset, plenty of storage space and an efficient work flow dominated the planning. "I am obsessed with organization," Mike says, "and we spent a lot of time planning spaces to accommodate all of the tools and accessories."
Winter can be brutal in Lafayette, Indian, but this workshop custom-building cabinets or furniture allows working in shirtsleeves. "The best thing I did was install in-floor radiant heat. There's no open flame, no air movement, constant temperature, and a warm floor," Dave says.
Having spent years pursuing his woodworking hobby wherever he could. That usually meant hauling a portable table saw onto the balcony of whatever apartment he was living in. The emergency-room doctor bought a home with his wife, Julie, and started prepping his wood working retreat. The result is a 676 sq ft. workshop attached to the garage of his home by a breezeway. This isolates the shop from the main house and allows him to work day or night without disturbing his family. Everything about the shop was thoughtfully planned. Electrical wall heating units combine with a heating fan to warm the shop in just 5 minutes. The dust-collection duct-work transitions from 8" to 6" to 4", allowing it to tuck neatly beneath the floor and come up to connect with each tool or downdraft station. Noise from the 3-hp cyclone was reduced by locating it behind a wall, with a hole on top to facilitate air exchange. Sam also designed a 312 sq ft. storage loft, which is above the adjacent garage. To reach it, he simply steps onto a sturdy counter-top, eliminating the need to stand on stools or climb ladders to access the wood.
If you need advice on shop lay out here are some tips that apply to nearly all wood shops, at least the ones that incorporate power tools. Of course, shop layout is something that evolves over and comes down to one’s personal preferences and tool choice. But here are some simple rules of thumb that came to mind.
Designed for an efficient movement of materials from one workstation to another and for easy storage and access of unwieldy sheet goods. An overhead garage door and a rafter-mounted winch nearby facilitate unloading heavy equipment from his pickup truck. Inside the 24x36' shop, another winch system makes hoisting and retrieving sheet goods to and from the attic storage space easy.