Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 157, September 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 Jim Randolph
Long Beach, MS

I would describe my shop as "functional." In fact, the only place I actually call it a "shop" is in my tips and polls for Wood News Online. To my wife Brenda and I, it's known as our garage, because that's truly what most of its space is devoted to. We park our cars there. Our boat parks there. Our small utility trailer parks there. All of the yard maintenance equipment is stored there. We have an "extra" refrigerator in the garage bathroom. Brenda claimed an area of it and turned it into a tile and ceramic studio when the house was first built. That leaves about 400 square feet, about the size of a two-car garage for the actual "shop." Efficiency demands areas outside of the main shop get utilized for storage.

The shop, proper, is on the other side of this wall. The dust collector pipe serves the table saw, and putting the vertical component on this side gets it out of my way. I store jigs on this wall, along with some yard equipment and standby fishing gear. The First Up tent hangs from the ceiling. Paint, paint brushes and painting supply storage is behind the camera.

In an area under the front porch is room for lumber and plywood storage.

There is ample space for solid wood to be segregated by species, and ...

... room for plywood and some space left over.

This side of the wood storage provides a sort of "wall space" that is also well-utilized;
just enough to store a lot of stuff yet still have access to the materials inside.

The garage is the lowest level in our house. Our living level is just above it and Brenda's main art studio is on the top floor.

My shop is not fancy. You won't find any pretty shop furniture. The walls are covered in white, pre-painted pegboard. It's not for everyone, but it works for me. There is no finish on most of the pieces I've built to support tools. That is, they not only lack paint or varnish, but, in some cases, drawers haven't been made and accessories haven't been added. For example, I discovered that the two big spaces in my Norm Abram router table cabinet were more functional as cubbies than drawers. Someday I'll get around to taking the drawer slides out. Maybe.

Here's a guided tour, photo by photo, counterclockwise around the shop.

This is the view from Brenda's parking space, looking northeast toward the main shop area. Her car backs up to the lumber storage. Placing the huge clamp rack there gets it out of my way, but its large wheels carry the weight easily to the work, wherever that might be. The boat can be backed out of that open door, down the ramp and I can be fishing in a matter of minutes. Wood is stored between the McMillan TrusJoists. Smaller scraps of wood are stored in old refrigerator drawers. A rolling Craftsman tool cabinet occupies the space where our grandchildren's heights have been marked for the last 16 years, on a post that supports the middle beam. The small utility trailer is tucked into an open space and ladders occupy the walls, out of the way. Continuing left is the half bath, sink and refrigerator. My car parks next to Brenda's adjacent to the bathroom.

If a shop has a heart, this is the left ventricle. Like most woodworking ventures, the Delta 10", 3 hp table saw is central to workflow. I now have a simple outflow table beyond the saw. Past the table saw is what I call my "saw table," which primarily holds my radial arm saw and is my main flat workspace.

McMillan TrusJoists allowed me to build a strong, flat workbench that incorporates open storage. I'm not a fan of cabinets and drawers. Each space is labelled to quickly return a tool to its correct spot, completely visible. The dehumidifier has a long hose and long cord, so it can easily be rolled out of the way, or under the radial arm saw. Space under the saw table is sheathed with pegboard. Jigs and infrequently-used tools are stored there.

The saw table is 15' long and 40" deep. It's easy to have several things going on at once, with room left over. The Norm Abram chop saw station is shown on the left.

When I designed the dust collection, several years after the house was built, I included "droppers", extra 4" connections that allow me to roll in the router table, oscillating spindle sander, etc.

The router table, oscillating spindle sander and scroll saw store on the parking side of the garage, out of the way when not in use.

I also utilize outdoor areas for messy or dusty jobs, or when I just want to be outside. Inside the case on the floor is our First Up Tent, which I'm about to assemble so I can be protected from rain. This is a deck just outside the shop's back door. I have lag screws in the deck to fasten the tent so it can't blow away.

Just behind the boat is a concrete area I can work on, enjoying the great outdoors. There are recessed bolts in the concrete to fasten the First Up tent. Floodlights allow me to work after dark.

Underneath the house I've made storage for heavy treated lumber. If another flood like Katrina comes in, I might lose some of this lumber, but, let's pray that never happens!

Inside the green box is a beast of an Oneida Gorilla 3 HP dust collector. We're thinking about painting the house green, so I tried out some shades on the plywood. The dust collector house will be sided with cedar to match the rest of the house.

You can never have too much air, especially if you like to spray paint. After Katrina flooded this level of the house, the nasty, salty water ruined the compressor motor, but didn't corrode the tank, so I doubled my air storage capacity by hooking the tanks in series. The air sits at the end of the paint storage wall, part of which you can see. All of the ventilated shelving was collected from discarded materials on garbage days.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda's home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home. Questions and comments on woodworking may be written in the comments section of each tip in the Highland Woodworking Blog. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

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