New Woodshop Construction #1: Setting Up Shop II, or How I Spent My Winter Vacation

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Blog entry by Patrick Jaromin posted 01-22-2008 05:21 AM 7935 reads 4 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of New Woodshop Construction series Part 2: My "Green" Dust Collection System »

(This is the first post here, but a continuation of a series started at my personal blog at

I’m not what you would call a “neat freak.” However, I do try to keep things generally organized and find it near impossible to work in a cluttered shop. Not only do I find it technically difficult to work in an unorganized mess – I find it hopelessly depressing as well. Consequently, when the shop is cluttered I will typically avoid doing any woodworking until the mess is resolved.Keeping the shop organized is especially difficult when the thing you’re working on is the shop itself. For the past couple months our garage and the new shop space has been a jumble of scraps of lumber and sheet goods, plastic bins of random hand tools, power tools, hardware, etc. somewhat haphazardly-arrange throughout. Need a hammer? Time to go routing through the bins. Double-stick tape? I just know it’s here somewhere. Not fun. Coupled with the scarcity of available “shop time” and basically nothing has been done since Thanksgiving.

To turn this untenable situation around I took a week-long vacation from my real job beginning January 7th. As luck would have it, this happened to coincide with a major “January thaw” with temperatures soaring into the 50’s and 60’s early in the week. After spending a day cleaning out the garage and setting up a temporary table to somewhat organize my tools/supplies, I set out to complete the job. First priority was the cabinetry. I had completed the carcasses and counter tops in November but hadn’t even planned the drawers. Drawers. After spending way too much time agonizing over their arrangement (do I make 3 or 4 drawers in this bay? One very deep or 2 shallower?) I settled on a design and slapped together some boxes out of 3/4” ply and pocket screws. Not very “fine” I know, but I’d prefer to just get the shop done and get down to business on pieces bound for the house! Ply banded with 3/16” maple bullnose serve as drawer fronts. After that I installed the ceiling-mounted speakers, running the wire through the 2” PVC I ran before the walls were finished. I also ran RG-6 and Cat 5e cable to the 4 boxes placed around the shop, patching the works together, neatly, in the crawl space before hooking up a home run back to my communications panel in the main basement.

While I frequently use Google SketchUp to design my projects, I find that working things out on a whiteboard can be extremely helpful in the shop. I frequently use a whiteboard for my cut-list—writing large enough to be visible across the room. The one from the old shop is roughly 18” x 36”. For the new shop, I wanted something a bit bigger, but “real” dry erase boards can be rather pricey. A quick google search turned up this page For $10 plus some scrap pine I was able to build my own custom board for the shop. I installed a 4’x4’ sheet in the middle of the back wall and still have 1/2 sheet left for future uses. Lastly, I installed the TV on a wall-mount (for NYW and Woodworks, natch!) and moved the metal paint cabinet into place beside the slop sink.

As usual the process was covered by a couple web cams and I’ve edited together a brief time lapse…I only wish I could have completed the actual work in only 5 minutes.

Note: The angle of the cameras, properties of the lighting and advanced image compression may make it appear to the untrained observer that my hair is a bit thinner at the top. I assure you this is merely an optical illusion.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

21 comments so far

View gizmodyne's profile


1779 posts in 4088 days

#1 posted 01-22-2008 07:12 AM

Cool. I watched the video first, and just thought you were very speedy.

Thanks for posting.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Kaleo's profile


201 posts in 4137 days

#2 posted 01-22-2008 07:19 AM

Wow that was cool, are all your fingers still there after running around that fast. Oh you edited the video to make it look fast. Just kidding, the shop looks great. I will doing the same thing here in a couple of months. I hope mine looks half as nice as yours.

-- Kaleo ,

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3986 days

#3 posted 01-22-2008 07:21 AM

Great video, and shop! I like the whiteboard idea. I’m going to have to get one.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4034 days

#4 posted 01-22-2008 07:41 AM

Nice video. I have one of those whiteboards and now wall to put it on. That was quite a project.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3994 days

#5 posted 01-22-2008 08:09 AM

Wow – and you did all that holding a baby! At least I thought I saw a baby in your arms…

Fun post – thanks …

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3794 days

#6 posted 01-22-2008 12:33 PM

Nice job! You’re faaaaaaaaaast ;)

Seriously, looks like a nice set-up you’ve got there! I’m downright jealous :D

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3830 days

#7 posted 01-22-2008 01:52 PM

Thanks, all!

Gary: at $10, there’s no reason not to! I’m seriously glad I decided to google that.

Dorje: that was my son…my 2-year-old daughter was apparently having a “disagreement” with Mom so she dropped him off to help me for a bit while they “worked things out.” So I thought I’d put him to work installing drawer pulls. ;)

All things considered the absolute best thing about my new shop is the heat. With temps around here lately in the single digits and below, it’s nice to have a warm shop to come home to! Highly recommended!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4158 days

#8 posted 01-22-2008 02:26 PM

wow.. a fast worker indeed (even if it the video was real time, I think)
Great idea re: shower wall

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4019 days

#9 posted 01-22-2008 03:13 PM

I like the use of the space you have made. Lots of drawer whew!
You should be very comformatable win there now.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4049 days

#10 posted 01-22-2008 05:15 PM

Very cool video. Now i am tired and need to take a break. Very nice shop.

-- Hope Never fails

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3872 days

#11 posted 01-22-2008 07:46 PM

That was awesome. I watched your other time-laps videos too. Really nice shop. How big is it?

-- Happy woodworking!

View bobdurnell's profile


315 posts in 3895 days

#12 posted 01-22-2008 10:48 PM

That was by far the coolest video I have ever seen. It wasn’t so fast that I couldn’t figure out what you were doing and definetly beats watching a how to do it video. I’m going to tell my buddy lumber jock brother to watch if he can. The shop is also outrageous too! I mean that in good way.

-- bobdurnell, Santa Ana California.

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3830 days

#13 posted 01-22-2008 11:03 PM

Thanks all.

Blake – The shop’s just over 300sq. ft. (14’ x 22’) with a 12’ cathedral ceiling. As no doubt is the case with most of us I wish it were bigger, but it’s basically what the “build line” would permit and I’m growing fonder and fonder of the space all the time!

bobdurnell – Thanks! I started doing the time-lapse thing with the shop construction and “got hooked” I currently have 3 cameras but one’s out of commission…hopefully I’ll be adding that one soon. The other TL vids are on my main blog and YouTube account.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View John's profile


341 posts in 3796 days

#14 posted 01-22-2008 11:48 PM

What a great video! You have an amazing shop…

I thought you had router tables at both ends of your saw, but now see that was the two camera angles. What brand is the router extension and are you happy with it?

The white board is a must-do – thanks!

-- John - Central PA -

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3830 days

#15 posted 01-23-2008 12:40 AM

JC – Thanks. Yes, two cameras. It’s the Benchdog ProMax – I bought the last one, floor sample, at my local Woodcraft for $250. I haven’t really been using it very long (bought it in November), but so far I’m extremely happy with it. I wanted cast iron not only for the heft & flatness, but also because I have the grip-tite system magnetic feather boards and wanted to be able to use them with the router…which I’ve yet to try. Of course, the plate is plastic so I can only get so close with the magnets. The unexpected side benefit is that I have just enough room on the right of the saw to mount the laminate extension table it displaced. I’m considering putting a second router table in that wing. I’m also very happy with the fence…it’s much nicer than the one that comes with some of the others I’ve seen and I’m using it more than I expected.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

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