Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 156, August 2018Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Here's My Workshop!
By Jeff Fleisher
New Market, VA


My home and shop are located in New Market, VA which is in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. If you are a Civil War enthusiast, New Market is where a group of Virginia Military Institute's (VMI) cadets fought and died in their only battle during the war. Reenactments are held every year and we can hear the cannons from our home. My shop is in a detached structure that was originally 20' x 30' which goes to about where the gutter downspout is in the picture above. After a couple of years I added another 20' on the back end of the shop for more handtool work and assembly. My shop is now 20' x 50' or 1000 sqft. The small shed with the red roof in the background is a commercial shed that I installed about a year ago to convert into a spray booth. Below is the view behind the shop of the Massanutten Mountains, which parallel the more well known Blue Ridge Mountains.


As you enter my shop you are welcomed to the home of Jeff's Wood Designs, the name of my woodworking company. I do commissions based upon word-of-mouth referrals. This is also the home of Shenandoah Tool Works where Norm Reid, who writes the book reviews for Wood News, and I make our Mallets and Birdcage Awls, which are available for purchase at Highland Woodworking.


My shop is basically broken down into a machine room area and a hand tool and assembly area. When you enter you walk into the machine room and are greeted by a Powermatic 20' planer and SuperMax 25' drum sander.


Located behind the planer and sander is a Hammer 16' bandsaw and my Oneida 5hp cyclone dust collector. It's pretty amazing how quickly the 55 gallon drum fills up with chips! My neighbor loves the chips for his chicken coop!


Next to the dust collector is a Delta 8' jointer with a Byrd helical head that I installed a few years ago. It's a real workhorse and is probably the oldest tool in the shop. You can also see one of about five handy shop vacs that I have scattered around the shop.


To the right of the entrance door is where I breakdown wood using my miter saw. I just recently purchased a Bosch 12' sliding miter saw. I really like the design of the Bosch miter saw because it can be placed up against the wall and the articulating arm allows the head to move forward without requiring extra space behind the saw. Right now the small shop vac on the bench is used with the saw but that will eventually be placed inside the cabinet with the hose coming up through the bench top.


There are also a couple of bench top mortising machines. I've used these in classes I teach but they are getting too heavy to carry back and forth so I may retire at least one to the shed at some point!


Further along the same wall is a Delta 14' bandsaw and my new Nova drill press. The Nova drill press is a pretty incredible tool with a built-in computer to facilitate setup and operation. It's pretty funny to read in the instruction manual to hook your computer's USB cable to the drill press to upgrade its internal software!


Along the opposite side of the shop is a Powermatic lathe. It takes up the corner with various gouges and tools hanging on the wall.



Below is a closeup of the Vega duplicator that I use to make the mallet handles for the Shenandoah Tool Work's mallets.


The center of the machine shop area is taken up with my SawStop tablesaw and two routers mounted in the outfeed table behind the tablesaw.


I highly recommend you have an outfeed table behind your tablesaw. You can safely cut long boards without worrying about how to hold them as they're cut. I've also taken advantage of the outfeed table to hold my routers. The top is made from a solid core door.


I mentioned my Oneida dust collector and I also have an air filtration system hanging from the ceiling. One funny aspect of the air filter is the strobe light hanging off the bottom. We have an Amazon Alexa voice activation system in the house and in the shop so now when my wife sends me a text message on my cell phone and I don't answer she can tell Alexa to turn on the strobe light to get my attention!


As I enter the newer part of the shop I have a small area set aside for a computer to read email and to review furniture models that I've made in SketchUp. It's nice to be able to draw a SketchUp diagram on my desktop computer in my home office and then send the file to the computer in the shop. I can easily look at a dimension or how some pieces fit together.


You can also see the beginning of my sanding area. I have a variety of small sanders...oscillating spindle sander, small belt/disk sanders and a 1' belt sander. It's handy to have them all together and again, I use a shop vac here and move the hose between sanders as needed.


The heart of the handwork area contains my workbench, hand tools and sharpening station. I have various sets of Ashley Iles carving gouges and bench chisels hanging on racks on the walls. They are easy to get to, especially since I'm 6'4"! I like using a Moxon vise on the front of my bench because I can place a board into the center of the vise as I create hand cut dovetails. It holds the boards firmly and there is about a 24" space between the two handles. When I built the addition I made sure that I had plenty of windows for daylight in this part of the shop.


My sharpening station is always setup and ready to go. One of my desires when setting up the whole shop was that I wanted to be able to just walk up to a tool and use it. If something is hard to access then it won't be used. That is especially true for the sharpening station. If it is hard to resharpen a chisel or plane blade then I might delay and a tool becomes more dangerous to use as the blade gets duller.


Next to the sharpening station are some handmade planes. These planes were partially made in a class with Scott Meek and finished at home. From left to right are my jointer, jack, block and smoother planes.


I've become a wooden hand plane advocate although I also have a variety of metal bodied hand planes.The wooden hand planes are very comfortable to hold and the wood sole on a wooden workpiece has a very nice feel. I also have a couple of Bad Axe hand saws.


The last thing in this corner of the shop is a shelf full of mallets. I mentioned that this is the home of Shenandoah Tool Works and as you'd expect, I have a few around the shop! You can purchase both a mallet and a birdcage awl from Highland Woodworking.


The opposite corner has my clamp rack. As they say, "You can't have too many clamps!" I have a variety of clamps from small c-clamps up to 8 foot long pipe clamps. In the foreground is a project I've been working on 'for awhile'. It is a slant front desk based upon a style from the early cabinetmakers in the Shenandoah Valley.


The desk is made of walnut with veneered, book matched, drawer fronts. This desk has been in the shop for a couple of years now. Unfortunately, I only work on it in between other commissions, and you can see that the walnut on the case sides has lightened appreciably. The one downside of all the windows in the shop is that there can be too much light and can lighten and/or darken woods like walnut and cherry.


The latest addition to my shop is an HO scale model railroad layout. I've started a new layout because my grandchildren are now at the age that they can appreciate helping to build and run some model trains. It turns out that Norm is also very interested in trains and we are having a fun time putting this together. We both had layouts years ago and can't wait for this new layout to all come together with logging camps, sawmills, mill works and a town area with various industries.



Of course, everything comes back to woodworking and the new craftsman structures are wooden and wonderful to put together and then apply various materials to age them. Here is a coal tipple I recently finished.


If you're ever driving through the Shenandoah Valley you're welcome to stop by and say hi!


Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He is the president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at www.jeffswooddesigns.com. He can be reached by email at furnmkr@gmail.com.

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