Shop reorg #1: A new toolbench

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Blog entry by GeBeWubya posted 01-10-2013 01:45 AM 1983 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shop reorg series Part 2: Mortising an 8' 4x4 »

When I retired from 25 years of software and systems engineering for a major defense contractor, I wanted to do something different with my time. Woodworking is something I’d always wanted to learn, but never had time. I started accumulating some tools and quickly discovered that without a garage (My lovely wife absolutely refused to consider converting the family room into a garage/workshop. Go figure.) getting tools out and back into a small storage room and setting up in the back yard was a major impediment to doing anything useful. We decided to lease an office/warehouse in a nearby office park to set up shop. I get the 640 sq ft warehouse for my wood shop and she gets the 160 sq ft office area for her artwork and crafts.

I was amazed at how quickly the whole shop filled up. In the middle of some projects it got so crowded with tools, materials, messes, and me, that I had to go outside to have enough room to change my mind! Remember that 25 year career doing engineering? I figured out eventually that in addition to floor space, a warehouse has volume! If I went vertical, I could effectively increase the amount of usable floor space. However I have a small problem—I don’t own the walls. Moreover, the metal stud and sheetrock construction makes it difficult to attach shelving or cabinets to the walls. So I started thinking about free standing structures for adding vertical storage.

The first project was going to be a Lumber Loft. I got busy with SketchUp and designed a cool stand 8’ x 4’ x 8’ to stack lumber on top and house tool storage below.

Of course, to have room to put in the Loft, I had to move the 11’ tool bench I had cobbled together from 3 salvaged bleachers seats, 6 cinder blocks, a folding table, and some 2×2 battens. I wanted the benchtop to be a little taller so I could park some utility carts under the bench (and so I could use the mini-lathe without bending over so much.) If I were going to build platforms to support the bench, why not add some cabinets above. Oops! I still don’t own the walls. Back to SketchUp.

When I was at the register at Lowe’s, the clerk asked what I was building with 4 8’ 4×4s, a dozen 2×4s, and a sheet of 3/4” plywood. I told him it was a birdhouse. Here’s the birdhouse, sans top, sans tools.

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