Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 181, September 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 Roger Kugler
Bloomington, IN

I've been a professional woodworker since 2002 working out of this 440 sq.ft. attached garage. Between having a dedicated 'work center' workbench where I spend 70% of my time and nearly everything I need is within a couple of steps, to strategically located power tools and storage, I've made this shop space work for me. It doesn't hurt that I spent years in the submarine force either. Many of my tools are shop made or modified to better suit my work style and checkbook.

The garage door has been deactivated since I use that wall space for storage. Yes, there has never been a car in the 'garage'. I would like to replace the 30" entry door with a 40" door. In front of the disabled garage door are two big shelves suspended from the ceiling with chains. Chains are convenient for adjusting the shelves vertically. Below the suspended shelves is a wooden rack for storing plywood and works in progress. A Belsaw Multi-planer is the workhorse in my shop.

Sheet goods can be pulled out of the rack with a pair of duckbill Vise-Grips. To pull a full sheet I have to open the kitchen door and invade the inner sanctum. I usually cut the sheet to length with a jigsaw. No room for a panel saw here!

A shop-made dust collector is built around a $40 auction find. The super large filter bag maximizes airflow through the blower and 30-gallon paper drum dropbox with a Thein baffle.

Part of my work center is the miter saw which has a simple fence with multiple stops. By using flip-up and fixed stops I can batch out parts of various lengths.

Next to the work center are several wall mounted tool cabinets with my most often used tools. Two cabinets have dry-erase board fronts for notes, shopping lists, etc. The third has a sheet of tin where I pin my orders with rare earth magnets.

A very old Konig lathe is on the south wall at the end of the work center workbench. The bench grinder is anchored at the far end of the long bed.

The drill press sits beside the lathe. Notice the 10lb plate hanging from the drill press. The retraction spring broke and while I waited for the replacement I rigged this weighted counter-balance. It doesn't automatically retract the quill, but rather keeps the quill suspended when I remove my hand from the handle.

The spray booth sits on a storage cabinet with exhaust through the south wall. I use an airbrush to finish anything that fits in the booth. A turntable is super handy. The booth folds flat against the wall when I'm milling long stock on the drill press.

The backside of the workbench (all made from scrap) has multiple drawers on full-extension slides. The left end has a downdraft table. The top is a giant heavy door salvaged from a remodel of the home of a famous soccer coach.

The downdraft table is powered by an HVAC squirrel cage blower (also salvaged). A furnace filter clears the exhaust air.

The table saw and planer are nestled next to the workbench. I can use the table saw to stack stock to feed the planer. Notice the square tube of the table saw fence. I unbolted this tube and shifted it to the right to increase my cutting width on the saw. A router hangs in the extension table on the saw with a cabinet below for bits, wrenches, etc.

I try to use every cubic foot of space in my shop. Fortunately, I'm not very tall so I can suspend lots of stuff from the ceiling like lumber, jigs, and canoe parts.

Of course, I store the current canoe job on the ceiling when I'm not working on it. I have a pulley system to raise and lower the boat to and from castered canoe horses.

Here are some of my final tips for working in a small shop:

  • Everything you use 70% of the time should be within a couple of steps.
  • 4" minimum casters on anything moveable. (Smaller casters just hang up on everything and are not worth the hassle!)
  • Digital readouts are easier on old, tired eyes.
  • Light is really important! Check out LEDs and have moveable task lights.
  • When you get tired, frustrated, or surly - go outside, drink water, sweep the floor and/or sit down for a few minutes.

Roger can be reached directly via email at roger@hoosierwoodworks.com.
You can also visit his website at Hoosier Woodworks.

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