Here's My Workshop!
by Stephen Nelson
For years my wife and I had agreed that we would one day leave Oklahoma for someplace we really
loved. That day finally arrived last year when we found a home in Vancouver, Washington that met
our dreams. Only thing missing was someplace for a woodshop. Well, there was a place, under a
deck, but not a room. So, as part of the move we had a local contractor build a room that would
one day be the wood shop. Fortunately there was already a door from the house into this area, and
about half of the “walls” were there, in the form of concrete retaining walls.
The deck was just painted wood, with lots of space between boards. So, while the room below was
being made, the floor above was turned into a roof – complete with impermeable membranes, concrete
Fortunately my contractor believed in doing things in a big way, so there is lots of beef in the
Part of the allure of our new home is that it overlooks a lovely lake – which is great with all
the windows that now face the lake!
While not as large as I would have liked (is a wood shop ever big enough?), it is about twice the
size of my previous shop. It measures about 12 by 25. Fortunately I had managed to find quite a
bit of shelving before the move, so I was able to install shelving along two walls. And the work
benches were made from wood salvaged from packing crates from Europe and left over yellow pine car
siding and flooring from remodeling the old house.
Since I had the luxury of building from scratch, I included a lot of storage for clamps, and a
decent sized dust collection system. But, even with the long benches, most of the power tools
reside on shelves until needed.
As part of my antique restoration work I do a lot of faux finishing – hence the supply of stains
and paints. Since I didn’t want to dust the house, the new shop is not connected to the house heat
and air system. But, having just finished our first winter I now know the shop didn’t get below 45
degrees – and, the oven in the corner can make the shop toasty in no time at all.
Here is a view from the opposite direction of the benches and the clamps. You might notice the
black mat on the bench to the lower right – a local hardware store has 1/8 inch thick rubber
available – makes a great cover for part of the bench to protect the bench when I have to hammer on
The only tools that are on wheels are my table saw, lathe, and band saw. The shop is just big
enough that they can be wheeled out of the way and allow me to work without running into them all
As part of the new shop I splurged and got one of the new Bosch “Glide” power miter saws – it is
really nice in that it does not need a deep bench. And, darn does it ever work well!
In as much as I am a clamp freak, I needed some way to organize clamps without spending a mint on
brackets. In our previous house we had a number of glass shelves –which I didn’t plan to put up
here. But, the brackets were great – I laid in two tracks next to each other, then took a pair of
the shelf brackets, cut a piece of 9/16 x 9/16 x 3 inch pieces of wood – put the wood between the
brackets, shrunk wrapped around the brackets and wood, and came up with some really stable clamp
Then I notched some 1 by and 2 by stock to make hangers for my longer clamps.
And stacked more clamps on top of the shelves.
Those with sharp eyes will spot the leaf blower – I have set up the house so I can blow air from
the garage through the wood shop and out the double doors. The leaf blower makes it really easy to
dust the shelves when the fan is purging the shop.
Yes, it would be nice if it was bigger, but so far the new wood shop has been a dream come true for
the restoration work I do.
You can email Stephen at
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