Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 198, March 2022Welcome 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 Matthew Miller
Asheville, NC

I started woodworking in 2013 as an exclusively power-tool-only hobbyist in south Texas. Working out of our two-car garage, I primarily used a table saw, jointer and planer, mostly building things out of home center lumber and sheet goods with the occasional pallet wood project here and there.

In the spring of 2018, we packed all of our belongings (including the tools) and moved to Asheville, NC. We quickly discovered garages were quite the luxury here and I knew my current tools would not be able to be used efficiently and safely in the new home we purchased. I slowly began selling them and replacing them with hand tools or a power tool that would be more mobile and efficient at performing similar tasks.

My shop is located in the lower level of our house. It's essentially a large utility room that I work in. You access it by going through our living room.

The room itself is about 13 feet long and 11 feet wide. It's not a perfect rectangle though as you'll see. The hot water heater and furnace take up a lot of floor space.

Starting behind the door, I store all of my clamps in this area. The walls are pegboard all the way around.

Beside the clamps is the lumber rack. I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of it. It's always collecting odds and ends other than wood. I'm thinking when I use up all the wood that is currently there, I'll turn this wall into shelves for better storage and add an area to hang tools on the wall.

Next to the furnace is my latest experiment in lumber storage. I mostly work with white pine, sycamore and poplar. Standing the boards up vertically takes up a lot less space. I've been checking them to see if they warp or twist any more then stacking them up and stickering them. So far it seems to be working.

I built a Dutch tool chest that was made famous by Megan Fitzpatrick and Christopher Schwarz. The top portion holds my bench planes and marking tools. Underneath, it's full of joinery planes, picture frame tools and others.

My workbench is directly across from my tool chest. It's the bench from Mike Siemsen's The Naked Woodworker DVD. Above it is a small shelf of finishing supplies and waxes. On the bench is a recent pyrography art piece I made for my parents for Christmas with a few spoons I recently carved. One of my kids' Pokemon toys seems to have snuck in as well.

The previous homeowners installed this storage area, which is above my workbench. It's two brackets that hold a full sheet of plywood. I use it to store power tools and other supplies like paint that you don't want little hands getting a hold of. If you noticed the bottle of grain alcohol, I use it to make my own shellac. Seriously.

Using a power tool in this space creates a LOT of dust. Even though I have a decent dust separator with my shop vac, it's not 100 percent effective. So I use this outdoor concrete pad that's outside below our deck. I use my Skilsaw to break boards down and do rough rip and cross cuts. I clean the edges up with hand planes later. I use a pair of Japanese-style saw horses to support the work.

If I have one or two boards to flatten, I'll just use hand planes. Any more than that and I'll set up this router jig and use a surfacing bit to flatten the two faces then bring it down to final thickness with a jointer plane. It's slower than using a planer but a lot more mobile and takes the place of both jointer and planer.

I hope you enjoyed my shop tour. Hopefully it gave you some ideas on setting up your shop if you're restricted on space.

You can email Matthew at mmiller3506@gmail.com.

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