My name is Brian Schuppe. I live in Billings, Montana. I have wanted to get into woodworking for about 15 years, but never had the time, money or space. It still seems sometimes that i am missing those three key ingredients, but i make due. I do not have a good area on my property to build a free standing shop, so i am in the garage.
This garage is not meant to be a shop. It has one outlet, and one light fixture. It is only as wide as the two doors, and the back end of the garage has large, built in storage closets. I am starting from scratch, my only powertools are a circular saw and a cordless drill. My wife and i are remodeling our 1960’s home, so everything is on a budget. Tools come as they are needed. My wife wants crown molding, so i end up with a Sliding Compound Miter Saw. I have to put in a floor, so i purchase a jobsite Ridgid table saw. Now i am starting to have some initial equipment, but now, where to put it?
I have decided to take over the back half of the garage, I will have 10 feet by 16 feet. This is dedicated space; i will use casters, i will move cars out of the garage, i will be mobile. I tear out the storage closets, and build new storage in the house. I am starting to have some space. I start to shop at pawn shops and check out craigs list. Many slightly used tools start to appear in the garage. I havent built anything bigger than a birdhouse at this point, but i have plans.
On a woodworking forum site, i talk to someone from Montana who tells me i should check out lumberjocks and Todd Clippinger. He is very helpful and knowledgable. Im thinking thats great, but im just glad to find another woodworker in Billings. So i send an email to Todd, and before i know it, i am getting an extremely detailed tour of his operation, what he has built in the past, and what his dogs like for dinner. He took the time to talk to me about what i might need to get a shop going. What tools need to be a priority, and he wants to know what my workflow is going to be. So i head home to do some thinking, work flow? I just wanna make stuff.
A couple more trips to Todd’s house and i am pumped up. I know what i need to do, what equipment i NEED, and what equipment i WANT. So Todd comes to the house to check out my workspace. First thing he tells me, you don’t want to park in your spot anymore, you need to put your table saw where your car used to be. And i need to have tables ready to roll into my wife’s spot when shes not in the garage. And i need cabinets, and power and…...etc. He gives me tons of ideas about what might work, how to setup areas to breakdown sheet goods and this work flow thing. He mentions it alot, so it must be important. He hammers my initial assembly table. It is not efficient enough, the top is made of reg grade ply, its ugly. He is right.
But it reminds me of a story i read a long, long time ago. A guy is talking about a forge, He says that the first thing he will make is a hammer. And the second thing he will make is…. a hammer. He will make a crude hammer and use that to make a nicer hammer. I like to think this is the model for my assembly table. It is crude, it is 2X4s and plywood. It can hold an elephant without sagging. It is a starter table. So i know now that the second thing i need is a second assembly table, two tables will let me do whatever i need to do. And i need power. So i check my breaker box and notice a 50 amp breaker that is unused. I have struck gold!
I go to Lowes and spend way too much of my hard earned money on supplies. I hang a subpanel, conduit and pull 1500 feet of wire. I now have 5, 110 circuits and 2 220 circuits. I install some lighting and i am on my way. I now have space, i now have light, i now have power. So now it is time to start the second assembly table. A certain American Craftsman from Billings fills my truck up with ‘scrap’ that is ‘in the way’. I might as well be a 5 year old with a truck full of icecream. i head home and start to work on assembly table 2.
I remember something Todd told me, “don’t be afraid to make your shop equipment nice, there is no better place to practice and learn technique than on shop furniture”. So i decide to dress the table up.
This table has peg board on one end, and the other has a powerstrip, with a built in 20 foot extension cord. A fold up table that comes in very handy for setting tools and folds out of the way. I add some alder trim to pretty up the table. ( I will probably create a gallery for this table when i put the finish on it). So the table is together, looks nice, is solid and functional…...and it will help my workflow. I am on to the cabinets!
Breaking down sheet goods before was dangerous. There is no other way to put it, i had no infeed and no outfeed. Now i have both
and breaking down sheet goods is a breeze.
With my trusty Kreg jig, these cabinets are no match for me, the carcasses are flying together
This ends my first segment, i will be putting the second segment together as the cabinets are done. I want to thank everyone that gave me such a warm greeting when i joined the site, i hope your generosity carrys over to this blog. I hope you like what you read, and i hope you will enjoy what i create in the future. I want to thank Todd for his help, his scrap and the motivation to get something going. More to follow.