Aftermath: The state of my workshop

Posted by Bill McBeth on

The other day I was sitting in my workshop reflecting on the past year and thinking about what the future holds for me and this hobby that continues to seduce me with its siren song.  Most of my life I have enjoyed doing something that involved wood of some sort, whether it was banging nails into a 2” x 4” in my grandpas workshop when I was a kid, building my first workbench using scrap wood from a house being built across the street when I was twelve, finishing the basement in my first house or making items to sell.  This year I accomplished a goal that I set for myself and that was to finally start taking this hobby and turn into a business.  I recently had my second craft show, it was a small venue but I actually did much better than my first one which was a rather large venue.  I made a few sales, I gave out a lot of business cards, I spent the day with my wife helping me man the booth and I got to talk to a lot of folks about my work.  I can yammer on and on about the experience of doing craft shows and I am sure that in future posts I will.  However, like I said I am sitting in my workshop reflecting on the experience but I keep getting interrupted by the complete and utter mess that my workshop is in.  My once cleaned and organized workshop is now in chaos…..again!  There is sawdust everywhere, tools scattered all over, bits and pieces of sandpaper strewn about.  So now I am reflecting on what was working in my shop and what isn’t working. 

What’s working for me?

My workshop like many who dabble in this hobby is in the garage of my home.  I am lucky enough to have a three car garage and a very understanding wife who doesn’t complain too much when I take up the entire garage with my projects.  I have a fantastic albeit old Powermatic table saw, it is a model 63 Artisan contractor saw with a 50” table. A large assembly table and ample workbench space.  This year I picked up a Performax 16-32 drum sander, this tool has been a godsend when finishing my cutting boards and has saved me countless hours of sanding.  I also picked up a Rigid Oscillating belt/spindle sander, i don’t know how I lived without this tool as well.  I also have quite a bit of cabinet space in my shop to store my odds and ends. 

What’s not working?

I recently cleaned up and organized my workshop before I got started on getting items ready for the craft shows.  There is nothing like actually having to work in your shop to tell you what is working and what isn’t working.  I did a lot of turnings on my lathe, I was churning out pens, ornaments and bottle stoppers; my Delta Midi lathe was sitting on top of my workbench; after my 7th bottle stopper and several blank blowouts my shoulders and back were absolutely killing me.  I finally determined that my workbench was way too high to comfortably wield the lathe tools and was also causing me to ruin many blanks.  I moved my lathe to the assembly table and that fixed the fatigue issues but now was taking up space on my assembly table that doubles as my outfeed table for the table saw and interfered with my needs on the assembly table. 

Power is the other big issue in my workshop.  I have two outlets that are 15 amp on one circuit that comes into the garage and I have two more 15 amp outlets on another circuit that powers my lights and garage doors.  On numerous occasions I have tripped the breakers  when running my shop vac and my table saw or drum sander.  This not only causes me to have to go into the basement to reset the breaker but it also causes a safety hazard if I didn’t get the tool off in the dark.  This also puts a hold on adding in a dust collection system into the workshop. 

I recently built a large mobile wood rack that stores my sheet goods and lumber, this is nothing but a catch all and storing my lumber flat makes it difficult to get to the pieces that I want.  I also have a workflow issue in the shop, transitioning from tools to workspaces is a real pain in the butt.   I also have no drawers and I can tell you, a work shop needs drawers. 

 What’s Next?

There is a lot of work to do and I don’t have much time to get it done before I have to get ready for my next round of Craft shows which the season begins in March of 2017. 

Here is a list of what I am going to get done to upgrade the workshop which will make my life easier. 

  • Upgrade the power: I am going to run a sub panel to the garage that will allow me to run my tools and put in a dust collection system.
  • Build mobile carts for my Lathe, Sander, and Drum Sander.  The drum sander is on a mobile base but it can be more sturdy and I want all the mobile bases to match. 
  • Lower and rebuild current workbench, it is currently in an L shape and I will be moving it a straight work bench, with lots of drawers and will sport dust collection built in and a down draft area.
  • Dedicated outfeed table:  This will allow me to use my assembly table for assembly. 
  • Drill holes in the assembly table to allow for bench dogs.  I have a couple jigs that I am thinking of to help in cutting board glue ups that utilize bench dogs.
  • Find a better way to store my lumber.  
  • Build clamp storage

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