Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 141, May 2017 Welcome 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 Don Johnson
Beaumont, TX

My father was a tool and die maker and a gunsmith for over 50 years. I learned a little from him about technique and especially patience for doing things right down to thousandths of an inch. I started working in my garage after I got married and spent about a year building fixtures for my retail store. For many years it was mostly home repairs and usually a project for myself during the week between Christmas and New Years when my store was closed. A few years ago, a good friend offered me a used combo mill/lathe which sparked the desire to make things again. Now I could make small objects using hard woods and maintain the tolerances I had been taught. It has been a great way to give me new challenges. I have died a few times and am legally blind but with patience I can get the results that I want. My wife has been super kind in supporting my new hobby. I would not be here without her.

In the 70's I built this 2 car garage in front of the existing 2 car garage and took over the existing garage as my workshop. The size of the shop is approximately 20' x 20'.

12 Years ago I closed in my garage and built another one toward the street so I could have a workshop and a 12' by 8' swim spa to aid in my health issues. For years I have been side stepping the hot tub to get to my tools.

This year I decided I would rather work in my shop than swim in it so I had the wall torn down and sold the tub then replaced the wall. The room is air conditioned. I painted the 50 year old cabinets and the floor to make it easier to clean.

I bought rolling carts for most of my machinery so I could move them away from the wall to get more room to work on 8' lumber, etc. This also makes clean-up a snap - just vacuum or mop the floor without having to work around legs. Easier to find things I drop also.

I had two 4-drawer tool chests with a kitchen counter on top. I bought 2 more 4 drawer chests. I spaced them in a rectangle to give me a place to sit between them on both sides. I found a granite dealer who had a scrap that I bought for half price to cover the 4 chests. I now have a huge workbench that is completely level with a perfect surface for assembly and one that will clean easily with razor blade. I left a 3 inch lip all the way around to have a clamping surface. I reused the counter top on a 4-legged stand for my sander, grinder and my dad's antique tool chest.

I am legally blind with a bad heart so I keep my projects small but have the time and patience to work in thousandths of an inch instead of 1/8ths. It takes hours but it keeps me busy.

On the left I have a Grizzly mill/lathe combo for turning wood up to about 6" for my comfort. I have made a few toys for my grandson, iPhone stands, wine stoppers, pen kits etc. I go for perfection rather than speed (someday I might succeed). I am the happiest I have ever been in my shop.

To keep the laundry free from saw dust I hung 2 shower curtains that open in the middle. If my wife is happy then I am happy. I have an electrician coming to clean up my ceiling and make it safer with some more LED lights coming (I need lots of light). I like 4200 lumens and 5,000 kelvin LED's for the best light. The Bud lamp is a relic from past life (with 5,000K LED light bulbs). I am putting 4 gang outlets in 3 places on the ceiling to have overhead access - no tripping on wires.

Like Superman, I now have my own inner sanctum. Life is good again. More thought than money got me here. I save my money now to buy tools and exotic hardwoods.

You can email Don at don4021@gmail.com .

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