Donna Menke's Workshop

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Workshop by Donna Menke posted 01-19-2012 10:40 PM 2386 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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Donna Menke

617 posts in 4464 days

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I very much enjoy looking at everyone’s shops- whether big or small, neat or messy, got every tool on earth or not. I wasn’t going to post my shop because it is not as good as it could be, and because some things have changed since these photos were taken a few years back. But, since I learn from looking at other’s shops I figured it was worthwhile to post my photos too.

This is from the stairs leading up to the living part of the house, looking left. Yup- fine dust does float up the stairs and cover everything. We need windshield wipers on the TV screen- no kidding.

Pivoting to the right you can see the other 1/3 of the place- there is more under the stairs. With 12’ ceilings there is a lot of under stair space.

Here are my favorite tools- my band saws. The scroll saw in the corner is used seldom- only when I cannot make a cut with a band saw. Drill press on the left.

This 8’ long steel cabinet holds my small woods- micro lumber and blocks for box-making and turning, and other projects. It is 2’ deep and I sometimes have to empty it just to remind myself what is in the back row. I like having lots of woods.

These are my two lathes. the small jet is the tool of choice unless something is too long. The big old Sears Dunlop is from 1948 and belonged to my grandfather and then to my father, and then to me. It is a bit rickety but if I prop my hip up against it it isn’t too bad.

I’ve spent a lot of time here at the power carving bench. When not in use it tends to attract every piece of flotsam and jetsam possible. I prefer to carve with hand tools but sometimes ya gotta have power.
The power comes from very heavy duty power cords hung from the ceiling- by the time I’m 80 maybe I’ll have a drop- maybe not. I have task lighting at just about each tool, and good general illumination from overhead florescent. Be it ever so humble- it is MY shop, and that is the important thing.
One other important thing is that my grown children and their friends, and my brother, have spent many companionable hours with me making beautiful things in the shop.
It may not be pretty, but it allows me to make pretty things, and that is what is important.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

16 comments so far

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4284 days

#1 posted 01-19-2012 10:49 PM

I love it, Donna. What is your air filter connected to, behind the carving bench? A shop-vac, or piped-in system? You have plenty of nice equipment there, and a great wood supply for what you do. I’m glad you posted the pix! We all learn from what others are doing.
PS- there is a tri-pod between your band saws. Do you also do your photography in here?


View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3394 days

#2 posted 01-19-2012 10:53 PM

Donna it’s a very nice shop. You have all the essentials for your needs. One recommendation if you don’t mind, you mention dust going upstairs. Could you staple 2-6 mil clear tarp/vapor barrier around the stair well opening at the bottom and have a vertical slit in the center for walking through. That would cut down a lot on the dust. Just a thought. Nice shop though :)

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4464 days

#3 posted 01-19-2012 10:55 PM

Thanks Barb. The filter sits in front of a window fan of about the same dimensions. I use it mostly for fine sanding of carvings so there isn’t much dust. For removing a lot of wood I prefer a good big gouge and mallet. To clean the filter I use my Fein vacuum, or take it outside and give it a good shake.
You are very observant. Yes, I have done all my photography and video graphing at the workbench. All the pictures for the book, 15 magazine articles, 8 blogs, and 3 videos. Whew.
It has all been fun.

Eric- that is a good idea. We could also just wall it in and put a door at the bottom. But the house relies on convective currents since there is no central heating nor air conditioning. It is a massive-passive, super-insulated, solar oriented house.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3263 days

#4 posted 01-19-2012 11:02 PM

Hey Donna great shop. I wish more of the LJ’s would post there shops. It’s interesting to see them. That one lathe seem to be rather old. But id it does the job why change. I’m in the middle of redoing mine i’ll post it after it’s done. Anyway thanks for sharing.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Nighthawk's profile


556 posts in 2555 days

#5 posted 01-19-2012 11:14 PM

Cool shop… I is jelly-us… lol :-)

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View cabmaker's profile


1740 posts in 3007 days

#6 posted 01-19-2012 11:22 PM

Donna, looks like you have lots of nice equip. to work with as well as a nice stash of lumber. Enjoy JB

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3065 days

#7 posted 01-19-2012 11:23 PM

Donna, I think that your shop is wonderful. It looks like you do a lot of work in there and so it’s not suppose to look like your living room but your shop. it looks like a great setup to me for the kinds of things that you make and it also looks like a pleasant place to spend the hours doing what you love to do. Thanks for posting your shop because I enjoyed looking at it.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2711 days

#8 posted 01-19-2012 11:26 PM

Hmmm I seem to have a Déjà vu seeing all of this seems as though I’ve been there before. :) What no pictures of the studio upstairs?

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4464 days

#9 posted 01-19-2012 11:50 PM

Blackie- wellllll the studio is not a woodworking shop- although I do some hand carving at the workbench in there. It is another of MY spaces though and that I enjoy very much. Some of my funnest times have been sitting at the drafting table designing something. Getting ready to design another harp soon- this time bigger and with a staved back. That should give me lots of pleasant hours in all of MY spaces.

Eagle1- I have a 4” joiner of the same vintage, and the same provenance. The cord is well frayed though and I have never plugged it in. My newer 4” joiner is burning up every time I use it though, so it may be a good time to fix the plug and see if the old joiner still functions.

Helluvawreck- sometimes my shop looks better than my living room. Depends on whether I’m in housewife mode or woodworker mode. Note: I do not spend overly much time in housewifely mode.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4264 days

#10 posted 01-20-2012 05:11 AM

Nice looking shop Donna. Having seen the work that comes out of your space, I’d say it was absolutely perfect. Lately I think you you often – no not like that – I have your book (you even signed it) that I purchased from you several years back and my wife “hid” it on me, so about once a week I ask her about your book. One of these days I suspect that I will locate it, and with my luck, it will be someplace that I put it, not my wife.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4464 days

#11 posted 01-20-2012 06:59 PM

Cajun- my hubby and I have the same problem. things are always hiding from us and we have learned to just wait until they ‘turn up’. They usually do- eventually.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View KMT's profile


603 posts in 2861 days

#12 posted 02-27-2012 11:21 PM

Thanks for sharing photos of your shop. Looks like a great creative space!

-- - Martin

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3775 days

#13 posted 02-27-2012 11:31 PM

Great looking shop lots of neat tools and your woods all organized. I noticed the sign ,Are you still selling ducks and chicks LOL

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4464 days

#14 posted 02-28-2012 12:12 AM

a1Jim- nope, that was years ago and we haven’t had ducks for a long time. We still have a few chickens though and sell a few excess dozens of eggs when we don’t eat them all ourselves. Free-range eggs super-fresh eggs are in a category of deliciousness all by themselves. Yummy.
Did I mention that the micro-lumber is arranged alphabetically- yup, A to Zebra, and by thickness within each species. Gotta be able to find what you are looking for- or may as well not have it at all.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3002 days

#15 posted 03-18-2012 11:06 PM

wow! looks like you’ve gathered an awesome collection and selection of exotics… I do like that “designer” dust bag also.. :) Keep on creating. I wanna hear a few strums or rifts, or whatever the tones are called comin outta one o those harps. plz, and thnx.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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