Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 180, August 2020Welcome 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 Joe Bieniek
Lake Orion, MI

My earliest memories of woodworking were when I was in grade school. Dad made sure that we each had are own tool box of non-powered tools, screws, nails, and access to the scrap wood bin. Over the years, the appetite to make things grew from forts in the woods, to skate board ramps, to lockable cabinets to keep my brothers out of my stuff. When I moved into my first house I slowly purchased the basic equipment: miter saw, table saw, router and biscuit jointer. For over 10 years, I dabbled in the garage to make shelves, picture frames, and odd/ends out of big box store lumber. I am a hobbyist woodworker and would consider myself intermediate in skill level. I am constantly looking for the next small project that will expose myself to a new technique.

In 2007, my wife and I purchased a new house with a dream basement and that is where all this takes off. I drew up plans for this great walkout basement with an 8.5ft ceiling and I setoff to complete a workshop. The main shop is 15'x30' with lots of other rooms for tools, supplies, a full bathroom, and general home storage. My primary wood storage takes up a 4'x 8.5' footprint in the storage room. Both my father and father-in-law keep me well stocked with rough sawn lumber. It has been an annual event to go to the woodworking show and dream big. Each year or two, I would take some saved up money and buy myself a piece of equipment or a new tool. As you can see I am pretty blessed with space and equipment to tackle any project. Over the years, I converted most equipment to 220V and upgraded the lighting to 4ft LED shop lights. The heart of the shop is my Roubo workbench that I built in December 2014.

As I use tools more and more, I find ways to improve their efficiency with layout, storage and jig/accessories. Between the bench and the bandsaw I left enough room to breakdown a sheet of plywood on the floor, and this space also doubles as the setup area for my knockdown spray booth. Don't let the cleanliness in the pictures fool you. There was a major deep cleaning for these pictures, but the cleaning also served to ready the shop for spraying my latest project in the spray booth.

My advice to other woodworkers is if at all possible, setup a dedicated space to woodwork, even if just a small footprint in the corner of a basement or garage. LED lighting is so inexpensive now, ensure your space is well lit to make it more pleasurable. If you use hand tools, prioritize a method or a small place for sharpening so it is easily accessible and you don't keep putting that off. Use that spot to clean the pitch off your saw blades so that too doesn't get neglected. You don't need many tools to enjoy this hobby, many/most are just luxury items.

I recently started spoon carving and there aren't many tools required for that. There are projects for all skill levels if you mine through YouTube or wood magazines. You don't need a Roubo workbench, but having one has really taught me the importance of "work-holding" from vises, to bench dogs, to holdfasts, to all kinds of simple jigs that make your time in the shop safer, easier, and much more enjoyable.

Joe can be reached directly via email at mijoe4882@sbcglobal.net.

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