Week of shop improvements

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Blog entry by Eric_S posted 01-03-2011 12:24 AM 7616 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

What would you do if you had a week off of work, a cluttered workshop that is preventing any work, and not enough storage? Well, I didn’t use the full week but I had about 4 full days of shop time :) so I started on a big project to reorganize my garage. When I set up my shop initially 1.5 years ago, I didn’t really know what kind of work I would want to be doing, nor did I know how I would be moving around it. After using it for over a year I have found areas that could use big improvements for work efficiency and cleanliness. I decided to act on it. I still have more to do over the next week but all thats left now is cleanup and reorganization.

So here is what I did this past week using mainly scraps…..

1. Built drawers for my lathe table to help with storage of lathe accessories, although I still need to get full extension drawer slides for it and attach the drawer fronts. Yes, these drawers are 3/4” thick all the way around. Its what I had on hand and didn’t want to plane anything.

2. Built a lathe chisel holder for my lathe table as well. I didn’t want to have to reach down everytime I changed chisels. This accessory was part of the lathe stand plan from

Whats nice about this design is it sits flush against the table when not in use and swings out and locks in place(with an extra hex bolt acting as a pin).

3. Decided to redo my router table. It was basically a masonite shelf on flimsy plastic saw horses. You couldn’t move it easily and it sprayed dust everywhere when using. The router table top was also a mess since I screwed up a few of the grooves so it wasn’t completely flat. Here is the old table….

And here is the new table and top :) The sides are 3/4” baltic birch and the top is 3/4” MDF glued to 3/4” particleboard. I still need to add trim to the top as well. I also purchased a switch to use from the outside. I then realized I could have saved myself $30 by buying a light switch and wiring it myself….oh well, next time…

I also decided I didn’t like taking up an entire shelf on my workbench cabinet with router bits thrown everywhere, so I made bit holders too.

I then moved my laminate router, finish and ROS sanders, and plunge attachment into the bottom. This cleared out a very large shelf right over my workbench :)

4. Finally, as the first step in clearing out all the clutter, I had to build some scrap wood storage. For pieces longer than 16” I can put them on my wall rack, but for all the cutoff scrap it was just laying on the ground all over the place:

So I made this wall storage. I still need to add shelves to it. And I am not at all proud of the workmanship in it though. You know the saying “measure twice, cut once”, well I didn’t make a single measurement or cut lol. I just took scraps of shop plywood that were close in size I had laying around and was trying to find uses for and screwed the whole thing together.

It’s something you would see Homer building on The Simpsons. I didn’t care though, its sole purpose was to hold scraps, but I can’t help but laugh everytime I see it. The sides are 1/2” difference in depth, the top and bottom are not as deep as the middle shelf, the middle shelf actually goes out 1/4” past the top and bottom on the backside and isn’t square on the front, so when I attached the back to it, it didn’t sit flush. I screwed the hell out of it to hold it in place, but the top and bottom screws have a nice gap between the back. It really is shameful, but i was trying to get a lot done. You can’t see all the ugliness probably in this pic. I also still need to add two more shelves to it.

I was very happy I got all these projects finished this week, that was 90% of the goal. The other 10% was to clean up and reorganize most of my workshop/garage to make it easier to use and walk around in. Here is the mess I am dealing with….. I’ll post pics next week and update my workshop photos after the cleanup to compare:
A new garage vertical shelving unit i purchased will replace these two wide crappy short ones

And all this mess will be cleared and a new shop will exist next week :) allowing me to get back to fine woodworking projects and more pens and lathe work.

Happy new years!

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

15 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3635 days

#1 posted 01-03-2011 12:27 AM

Happy new year, Eric. Those are some improvements.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3157 days

#2 posted 01-03-2011 12:55 AM

Thanks CJ. They are long overdue.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3145 days

#3 posted 01-03-2011 01:12 AM

Nice work. That looks like my garage. I’m in the process of cleaning out the clutter as well. I’m also re-evaluating my tool needs and will probably get rid of the two jointers that I have since I’ve only used them 4 or 5 times in 20 years. I realy like the turning tool rack.
Happy New Year!

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3157 days

#4 posted 01-03-2011 01:23 AM

Thanks Mike. I’d gladly take one of those jointers off your hands lol.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 2730 days

#5 posted 01-03-2011 01:53 AM

Use your scraps to make something to hold the scrap is very inspirational Eric. If only it was as fun to clean up as it was to make the mess. If it was we would all have neat clean wood shops.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3265 days

#6 posted 01-03-2011 01:54 AM

well ive been in the same mode pretty much, my son came for a visit and he and i insulated the ceiling…30×20 and i started on one of the long it half done..which made me clean the one wall off of where i had way to much wood stored…so…ive got the wood stove blazing tonight and will test how well it does…low 20’s tonight….so a new year of wood working ahead…let the saw dust fly…........

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3723 days

#7 posted 01-03-2011 02:04 AM


I admire your determination to get these improvements done. In my 192 sq ft here in Gainesville, I find that it is all to easy to become comfortable with “inefficiency”, rather than take the time and effort to make changes.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3157 days

#8 posted 01-03-2011 02:22 AM

Dan, making all the pieces from scrap was fun and a good way to use this scrap that I would have no other use for otherwise. However, working on them in the mess was definitely not fun.

Grizz, very good idea. You’ll notice a big difference. I had my father in law help me with that stuff last year and it helped tremendously in the winters and summer keep a more reasonable temp(plus dampens the noise to neighbors). The garage door though seems to be an issue in the cold as they are solid wood. In the winter little gaps open around the seals so I fill them with insulation foam tape which helps but isn’t perfect. I’ve been using an electric heater while I’m in there during the winter which has a digital temp. display on it. It stays around 50 easily and when I’m in there I raise it to 60.

8iowa, I’ve gotten comfortable with inefficiency for too long in my shop. It got to a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’d go to do lathe work and would move everything out of the way, then when I went to do larger projects with other tools I’d have to move everything again. It also made me not want to use my dust collector(one tool hookup at a time) because I didn’t want to kill myself walking across the danger zone. I also have been wearing a mask in there at all times lately because of how messy and dusty its become. I can’t wait for a clean and more efficient shop :)

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 2936 days

#9 posted 01-03-2011 03:21 AM

Man you were one busy beaver, great jobs!
Must feel great to get some organizing done.
I usually only get a stolen hour or two and wind up just putzing around

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3426 days

#10 posted 01-03-2011 04:09 AM

eric: awesome work. one day i hope to make a proper shop like you are doing :-)

View millssnell's profile


46 posts in 2733 days

#11 posted 01-03-2011 04:39 AM


Thanks for the inspiration. I love the makita drill and impact driver that you have. I got them a few months ago for a wedding present!! Very awesome.

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3897 days

#12 posted 01-03-2011 05:22 AM

Eric, The improvements look great, lots of stuff in a short time. I am really in need of a cabinet something like that for scraps and other parts as well. I may just take your lead there and just build it to get it done and on the wall. Thanks for posting look forward to seeing the other pictures.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View gul's profile


400 posts in 2924 days

#13 posted 01-03-2011 05:03 PM

A lot of work that was. Great job.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3136 days

#14 posted 01-03-2011 05:31 PM

Great idea, and great job.

That’s the kind of list that most of us put off … as long as we can … and we probably take longer to do the things we do, because we put it off.

I think it’s a great use of time to just get those shop clean-up and tune-up items out of the way. A fresh start to the New Year, and more efficient time spent in the shop, afterward….

Very nice !

-- -- Neil

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3157 days

#15 posted 01-03-2011 05:37 PM

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Millsnell, I love these Makitas!

AaronK, I don’t think I’ll ever have a proper shop lol, its always a dream away.

ctl, of all the projects I did during that week, the scrap storage wall cabinent was the fastest because I didn’t have to cut or measure anything. I just screwed and screwed till it was sturdy lol.

Thank you Gul.

Neil, I totally agree. I’ve been putting it off for too long and with a week off of work I thought Its now or never.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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