Revamping and Updating my Old Shop #9: Long range planning - how to gain wall space and storage space.

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Blog entry by Jim Bertelson posted 01-25-2010 07:03 PM 1717 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Benchtop ClampDown Downdraft Table, real Dusty, errrr.....Dusty for real......... Part 9 of Revamping and Updating my Old Shop series no next part

I have reasonable workbench and floor space if you include my project tables. But I am really short of wall space and storage space.

Mounting Systems

I am going to do the french cleat thing on all walls that are available after removing any pegboard, the old cabinets from my first kitchen remodel in 1985, and some other cabinets as well. I will also put french cleats on the attached garage walls, and there may be room for some storage in the garage that way.


The wiring will be rerouted in a systematic fashion that will allow electrical access on all walls. This will make it possible to move a bench to a different wall area via the french cleats and have sockets availabe to fee power strips on the cabinets. At this time, I think I will either place a number of surface mounted boxs with receptacles, or just run strip in that space that is normally just above a bench, but below the cabinets. Then I will not make any cabinets that are floor to ceilling. I will use one wall space for storing very long items vertically such as guides, clamps, lumber, etc.

Benches and Cabinets
Then I will put in new benchwork and under bench cabinets hung on the main cleats. Except for my old bench which will get a new set of drawers under it, all other benches and cabinets will be hung on the cleats. I will keep my light weight project tables, but probably upgrade and replace the tops.

Each above bench cabinet will have either small french cleats or pegboard inside and on the back of the door, as well as small cleats or pegboard on the front of the cabinet door. That is how I am going to effectively increase wall space.

The doors on all the cabinets will have to have first rate hinging to take the weight. The cabinets construction will have to be plywood, or solid wood. All large power tools will have cabinets underneath them, and will be mobile. The surface of the RAS and TS will be the same height. Smaller power tools such as grinders, benchtop jointers, planers, etc will be stored on shelves or in cabinets.

I was thinking of some halfway solutions, but I think the answer is to systematically plan the whole space and garage. Then paint the ceiling, and walls, and put in french cleats all around that are very substantial. That will allow me to hang most anything anywhere, and give me some space on the walls to run electrical wire in a standardized way around the shop, without drilling a lot of holes or putting up new wall board. I should easily double my storage and wall space. While I am at it, there will be a lot of stuff thrown out or given away.

Unfortunately, planning is easier than doing, but this plan should give me a better result, with less work in the long run.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

8 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3330 days

#1 posted 01-25-2010 07:30 PM

That sounds like a great and practical plan Jim. Like everything else we take the work one step at a time. I like to zero in on step one and not think about the whole thing too much. Too easy to become overwhelmed. You have some wonderful workshop plans. A flexible workshop can’t be beat. You will even be able to reconfigure for special projects when necessary. It’ll be fun to follow along while you do too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View lew's profile


12056 posts in 3751 days

#2 posted 01-25-2010 08:57 PM

Sounds like a great plan, Jim.

Wall space always seems to be a problem for most smaller shops. I can’t see the walls any longer!

I like your idea of making your saws the same height. I really makes working on large flat stock easier when it can be supported by various tables and locations. And, you can never have enough electrical outlets!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View dbhost's profile


5710 posts in 3228 days

#3 posted 01-25-2010 09:26 PM


If you haven’t learned to use it yet, learn Sketchup, it lets you play around with moving your equipment around without, well… having to move your equipment around…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4173 posts in 3160 days

#4 posted 01-26-2010 01:44 AM

Thanks for the comments. My biggest problem was to get my mind out of incremental improvements in the same mode as always, meaning just maintaining a multipurpose shop, and putting as little money as possible into it. So I decided if I made a plan, overall, that I could then parcel out the tasks on a one project at a time basis heading toward a shop with a different overall purpose, and at the quality I wanted. Now I can refer back to this so that when I improve something, it fits in with the overall plan.

Many is the time I wished those saws were at the same height. They will need custom wood cabinets, and I will do away with the steel ones.

I actually started putting much of the post in a comment on your shop, and then realized that it was a description of the plan I put together in my head while on vacation. So I made it into a blog item.

Yes, I have Sketchup pretty well in hand now, and will put up some drawings later this week or next, thanks for reminding me that all LJ’s like pictures, especially me….........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Woodwrecker's profile


4148 posts in 3572 days

#5 posted 01-26-2010 04:09 AM

Those French Cleats are a smart idea Jim.
I used them to hang a couple of wall cabinets and when it was time to change their location, it was very easy.
Plus, I found that when you run an electrical line just below the wall mounted cleat support, it doesn’t get in the way.
Being able to rearrange wall mounted units at will is also advantageous when you decide to change around your shop orientation.
Looking forward to see how it works out.
Good luck.

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4173 posts in 3160 days

#6 posted 01-26-2010 04:28 AM

I have never put up a large French Cleat system, but I was thinking, unless you are compulsive and make it so that the sides of a cabinet go all the way to the wall where there is no cleat (assuming a long running cleat), you could run wire there. And now you confirm that thought in the real world, so then that’s what I will do.

Thanks for the comment, that firms up my idea and choices about wiring.

The central pillar in my shop has all kinds of receptacles, both 110 and 220, and they are switch controlled. Meaning, when you want to work on a saw, for instance, you can flip the switch instead of pulling the plug. I think I will run both 220 and 110 around the shop. Actually, I have two 220 circuits coming into the shop, one feeds the pillar (and therefore the saws) and the other feeds a dedicated circuit to the dust collector. But I converted the 110 circuit to 220, and of course rewired the DC, so now it does not have to be dedicated. Although there are a lot of things plugged in, except for the DC, no two tools run at once. As you may have gathered, I do the wiring myself, since I got a whole lot of DIY experience both in Fairbanks and here in Anchorage. Plus I have some theorectical background.

So thanks again for the input… confirms what I thought was the case, but until you do it, you never know.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Troy's profile


186 posts in 3059 days

#7 posted 01-26-2010 08:27 AM

I am a fan of French cleats. They just seem so solid.
Someday on my next trip to Anchorage, I hope you won’t mind a visit from a fellow Alaskan Woodworker.

-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) ||

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4173 posts in 3160 days

#8 posted 01-26-2010 06:15 PM

Sent you a PM as well. The French cleat seems like a good idea for my situation. That way I can build cabinets and benchs, and as I free up space move things around as needed. It also seems to me that it ought to be easier to put up a cabinet that way. Eventually want to move a freezer that is in the space, and perhaps even a central vacuum that has minimal use. So I am going to try and standardize everything I can so it can be moved readily.

See you are running about minus 15 deg there in Fairbanks. I have a daughter there with three of my grandchildren. They live on Chena Hot Springs Road.

Gotta run…..


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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