Small shop?... me too!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by NoLongerHere posted 03-13-2011 02:02 AM 1897 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I saw a post from Fine Woodworking the other day about a survey they were doing about small shops.

The survey asked the following questions and I thought it would be fun to post my reply here at Lumberjocks.

Reed’s 24×28 Wood shop

The shop can be viewed here on my profile


What power tools do you currently have in your shop?

Delta X5 cabinet saw w/ biesemeyer fence, 50” capacity, out feed table and rolling HTC stand
Delta 13” 2 spd. Planer
Delta X5 6” jointer
Delta 14” band saw
Delta drill press
Delta 12” dual compound miter box – my jobsite crown saw.
Delta sharpening center
Jet lathe –
Jet Spindle sander
Jet canister dust collector
Jet hanging room air cleaner
Craftsman radial arm saw
Craftsman 48” belt/ 12” disc vintage sanding machine
Craftsman scroll saw
Craftsman blade sharpener/ grinder
Router Table with PC 3 1/2 hp. Plunge router, Kreg lift with Jessem router fence
Sanborn 5 hp. Compressor
Dewalt 10” sliding compound miter box and miter stand for jobsites
Dewalt portable table saw
Dewalt compressor for framing
Senco pancake compressor for trim
Milwaukee grinder from the 60s
HF 8” buffer/ grinder and stand – cheap!
HF sand blasting cabinet – OMG… so cheap! decent quality.

Hand power tools

Milwaukee 7 1/4” skill saw with 60 tooth blade and a strip of plywood – my track saw
Milwaukee hammer drill, right angle drill
Milwaukee sawsall, big rotary jack hammer
Milwaukee 18V cordless 4 pc hammer drill, saw, sawsall, flashlight
Milwaukee 12V baby cordless drill
Milwaukee 12V cordless radio
Porter Cable 7 1/4” worm drive and a sidewinder skill saw
Porter Cable 6” skill saw – for plywood
Porter Cable 4” trim saw – for small work
Porter Cable 3 1/4 HP router in the router stand – variable speed, soft start
Porter Cable 2 1/2 HP combo plunge/fixed base router
Porter Cable 1HP fixed base router, 1 1/2 HP combo router – from the 80s
Porter cable 6” angle sander with vacuum pickup
Bosch 2 HP D handle router – for dovetails only
Bosch 1 HP trim router with soft start
Bosch 3” planer, 3” belt sander – sweet tools
Bosch mini trim miter box – impulse buy
Bosch sawsall – beast.
Bosch jig saw – solid tool
Bosch 3 – 4” orbital sanders, 1 -5” orbital sander

Dewalt 14.4 cordless XRP drill
Dewalt 12V angle drill
Dewalt biscuit joiner – meh…. doesn’t always line up.
Dewalt jobsite radio – this thing is loud!
Makita 3 HP plunge router – retired from router stand. 20 yrs. of hard work and still strong as can be.
Makita 10” miter box and 9V cordless from the 80s – damn things won’t die
Makita baby belt sander for trimming scribes with one hand
Makita 18V cordless drill – my daily user
Milwaukee 18V cordless hammer drill
Makita 9V cordless angle drill – retired
Makita 3” big timber planer
Makita jig saw with crown coping base – good for thick hardwood crown
Makita pad sanders, angle grinder
HP multi purpose tool – because it was 29.00! and the Fein is 290.00!

Nail Guns
Senco 3 – oil less framing nails guns
Senco 3 – 15 ga. nail guns, 1- 16 ga. nail gun
Senco 2” crown stapler, 1” crown stapler
Senco 2 – 18” brad nailers, 2 – 23 ga. pin nailers
Dewalt 18 ga. brad nailer – for jobsites
Duo Fast oak floor nailer – no air hose, comes with Big hammer

Hand tools?

I have two or three of just about everything.
I also have big tool storage boxes and a 6×10 trailer for cabinet and material delivery to the jobsites.

How did your tool choices affect your woodworking, or vice versa?

Like many carpenters, I started off buying entry level Craftsman tools because that’s what I could afford. I quickly learned you get what you pay for.

A $49.00 Craftsman drill is not the same as a $149.00 Dewalt drill.
I have several old retired Makita tools that still work but not one single cheap power tool.

I decided to buy Delta table tools because they’re well made, in America, that’s what I was trained on and I like the way they look. Call me weird but I like it when all the table tools are the same brand and color. I would have chosen Powermatic but I hate that bird poop yellow … ha!

The exception would be the Jet lathe, spindle sander and dust collector. I don’t mind white and I like Jet tools.

Money was always tight and spent on other priorities, like bills and house repairs rather than tools. I tried to buy expensive table tools only if I had a specific job that required it. I budgeted it so the job “paid” for the tool.

For instance, I included the cost of a band saw in the bid to make 24 – 36” long, 6×6 arched cedar brackets for a huge front porch of a house. The bid went from 3200 to 3700 and they didn’t even blink an eye. My wife, the boss said OK, I can buy it! ... Yee haw!

Fact is, I probably under bid the job before I added the band saw. I also did several honey do projects on the rest of the house – N/C. So it all worked out. I’m happy!

The used Craftsman radial arm saw and sanding machine are from a garage sale. I plan to to upgrade to a new Jet 12” sanding center on a rolling stand soon.

The Delta cabinet saw is big, heavy and stable which makes a good work table, especially with the out feed table. It’s on a roller stand so I can move it if needed. All my table tools are on roller stands.

How do your organize tools?

The pictures will show my tools are easily accessible and arranged in groups on slat board above the recycled cabinets, inside a craftsman mechanic’s tool box and in the 12×12 tool shed.

As you can see, I collect antiques planes so I use this area as a display too. It gets thinned out during the winter.

Did you eliminate stationary tools altogether and opt for bench top or handheld models?

You mean, did I buy a bench top tool instead of a table tool?

I always wanted to get a Delta shaper but turns out, the router table was all I needed. Same thing with the planer. I wanted to get the big 15” 3hp. Delta but this 13” planer was all l needed…. or I would’ve upgraded.

But, the table saw should be big and stable because it will also be one of your work benches at times.
I love my little Dewalt saw but I think portable table saws are usually best for temporary use on job sites.

Have you opted for hand tools only?

You mean, do I prefer to use hand tools?....... Hell no. Plug that sucker in. time is never a friend.

I use the tool that’s best for the job. I have no desire to use show off with a hand tool when a power tool will be just as good and faster. However, I still prefer to cope and rasp my crown by hand rather than use a grinder or a jigsaw, unless it’s hardwood. It’s definitely a personal choice for each tool type.

But, Hey, if you’re making stools like Roy Underhill, then break out the spoke shave! .... Hell yea.


How do you store tools, both hand and power tools?

I have an attached 12×12 tool shed for the cords, air hoses, framing guns, skill saws, Dewalt table saw, miter stand and compressor, drop clothes and tarps, gun nails and screws, plumbing and electrical supplies – you name it. This stuff can really create clutter in a shop and it gets all dusty too.

Where do you keep lumber and supplies?

I vaulted ½ the garage ceiling by installing a ridge beam, tripled the center ceiling joist, added a metal column for added support and installed ¾ plywood for a 12×24 storage area above.

I attached ½” conduit across the bottom of the joists for trim storage between the joists. I can store several 4×8s behind the miter saw bench. I installed 4 rows of HD shelving above the plywood and behind the band saw.

There is a short material bin behind the lathe that is 2ft. tall x 16” deep x 8 ft. long, divided into 5 sections.

The base cabinets have pull out shelves for screws and misc. hardware. The drawers are full of hardware and misc. tools. The corner lazy Susan is full of stain, thinner, fillers and finishing material.

I salvaged a bunch of 4ft. metal screw bins from O’Neil’s True value when they went out of business. I have screws in them from ¾” to 4 ½”, nuts and bolts, electrical components, biscuits and dowels, sand blocks and sand discs, nail guns and trim nails.

I have a 4’ x 20’ covered wood rack behind the shop for exterior plywood and framing mat., 4 ext. ladders, 20’ plank, and several red fiberglass folding ladders.

How do you store clamps, long and short?

Nothing too fancy. I bolted a 2×6 – 4ft. long, padded out 3/4” with the top angled back at 10 degrees. I have a variety of bar clamps and wood clamps on the slat board in groups of 4. I’ve got 4 – 8 ft. bar clamps stored up above in 2” PVC pipes.

Workbenches and tables

What kind of workbenches and worktables do you have?
Did you design an innovative workbench that fits the space and is more versatile than a traditional bench?

The main workbench is 42” x 8ft. and is made from 3 re purposed oak drawer base kitchen cabinets.

I made the top from 2 sheets of ¾” plywood and covered it with matching gray Formica with 2” solid oak with chamfered edges. I plan on cutting square holes for dogs and holes for a downdraft sanding station on the other end, some day. It holds a ton of tools in the 3 big drawers.

Recycling these nice oak base cabinets just made sense. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

The 10 ft long miter/ radial arm saw table is 24” deep by 40” tall and has a middle shelf.
Left to right: a spot for a plugged in 3” belt sander, short cut offs, nail guns and a tile saw.

The miter box and 8ft. long out feed support can be easily removed with 4 screws to reveal the radial arm saw and another fence with a stop.

I removed the craftsman radial arm saw’s flimsy metal legs and built it into the bench. You can reach under to adjust the height and it has a dust collector. Rotate it sideways when not in use.

Occasionally, a radial arm saw is really nice to have, like cutting dadoes, but I wouldn’t want one in a small shop because they’re huge. This solves everything.

The miter bench Formica tops and shelf came out of a dumpster behind a remodeled Sears …. I’m so cheap!


How do you handle dust?
How do you get big stuff in or out?

The Jet 2 stage Canister dust collector is great. I have it located as close to the center of the shop to avoid tripping over 4” hoses like it was before. I have a T with a gate set up for the 2” collector pipe which spans the shop above to pick up the dust from the air, the radial arm saw and the sanding machine.

I use a designated Rigid shop vac for the router table just because it’s easier to empty and switch on and off.
I have a Jet shop air cleaner hanging above, dead center. This machine is so quiet, I leave it on while I work.

I like to blow off everything at the end of the day, hit the 30 min. delay timer and run. Nice clean air in the shop the next morning.

Even with all of this, it still gets dusty during a project and you have to break out the brooms and vacuum.
My favorite? Open the garage door and grab the leaf blower…. Now we’re talkin.

Do you have a unique way of lighting the space?
How do you arrange power outlets?

I have 6 used 2×4 light fixtures out of a dumpster, surface mounted on the vaulted ceiling. There are switched shop lights above the slat board and over the lathe.

I also have a designated magnetic task light for the band saw. Very nice.

There is a continuous (outlet every 12”) power strip around the room just under the slat board.

Do you have an Alarm, stereo or TV set up in your shop?

Go ahead … try and get in … Smile! now run. I’ll give you three steps before you get licked to death.

I have 4 motion sensor lights around my shop and one inside, an alarm and computerized video recording system, monitored by KEYTH alarm systems and a Big red school bell inside that will shatter your eyeballs,

2 motion sensors inside, hard wired door and window contacts, dead bolts, two barking golden retrievers and four at home mothers and a nosy retired guy,

lastly, a loaded S and W 357 with a sign in front that says: Never mind the Dog. Beware of Owner.

When working alone for 8-10 hrs. on a project, I like a little music or a TV going for background noise.

I have a Sony Home theater receiver with infinity surround speakers and a sub woofer, DVD, I pod touch,
a 42” flat screen and DVR. I also have cordless noise cancelling stereo headphones.

What’s your secret to working efficiently in the space?

This sounds ass backwards, but I start the day by cleaning the shop and staging the tools or putting them away. Think about it. you work on a project to the last minute and you’re covered in dust, cross eyed and beat, something is usually clamped and drying.

Blow yourself off and start fresh in the morning. Keep in mind, I try to put some stuff away throughout the day but it just gets away from you if your project is going fast.

When I estimate time on a cabinet job I figure I lose almost 1 hr. for every 8 hrs. just moving stuff, setting up jigs, organizing tools and clean up.

Do you finish in the space? If so, how do you handle harmful fumes?

Only small projects. I used to stain and spray finish big projects in the shop by building a spray booth with hanging plastic just because, like an idiot, I liked to do everything myself. But not anymore.

You have to find a good spray finisher and let him do what he does best. You hand him the liability on the finish with his warranty and, you can’t duplicate the vent system of a decent spray booth.

Plus, you avoid all that over spray on everything in your shop and breathing some nasty stuff.

For small projects, I’ll still set up a plastic spray area and use a decent dust mask.


Well, it was fun putting this in writing. I hope it wasn’t too long winded.


10 comments so far

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3096 days

#1 posted 03-13-2011 03:22 AM

You know cheating/straying is not allowed here, this is a family site. LOL You made some great responses to the questions. Seems like a good survey with a lot of good questions. Thanks for posting.

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3631 days

#2 posted 03-13-2011 03:37 AM

Hey Mark
I think you have a great looking shop. pretty close to the same size as mine. I think almost everyone would have a larger shop if they could. There are some folks on LJs that make amazing projects on patios,kitchens and lawn sheds and shops as small as 6’x6’,

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Paul C.'s profile

Paul C.

154 posts in 3300 days

#3 posted 03-13-2011 04:00 AM

Small shop? Mine is a 9’ by 20’ garage. I would kill for your space. :-)

View Cornductor's profile


208 posts in 2721 days

#4 posted 03-13-2011 05:59 AM

Great looking shop! I read the background story of how you started and it was great. I wood “HA” like to be in that same postion some day, where my side business takes me to bigger and better things. Keep it up!

-- An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. Benjamin Franklin

View mafe's profile


11739 posts in 3144 days

#5 posted 03-13-2011 02:42 PM

It was really interesting reading, to hear words on the shop, and not pictures.
I especially love the alarm description, I laughed so much and can see that you are well secured.
My workshop is 7 by 13 feet, but I’m retired, and go there only for my pleasure when my health allow it, so no compare (and you probaly noticed I have done more toolmaking than woodworking…, even I hope this will change a little once I have the shop running).
Thank you to share this with us.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2730 days

#6 posted 03-13-2011 07:56 PM

Hey Jim and Paul,

The title of the FW blog is: “Do you have a small work shop? Tell us about it.”

So I borrowed the idea for the title of this post, not thinking that I might be stepping on a few dusty toes. sorry.

I have a picture somewhere of one of my first (of 5) shops, a 10×16 plywood shed behind my first apartment. So I can relate to small spaces. How much room do you really need anyway? I love all shops.

Brandon, Hey, are you making fun of me saying Ha! ? I just can’t seem to write LOL or ROFLOL. It seems so girly.
How about: he he,... yuk yuk,..... chuckle, .... or…...Ar Ar Ar! (mork from ork).... I like :-) Too funny!

Anytime I can make you smile and laugh is a good day by me. I am honored.
After all, you bring us many smiles with your stories and pictures. Glad I could return the favor. I appreciate you’re compliment about reading words, not pictures. They both are so important. I’m still learning the ropes here on what makes a good story or post.
You Sir, are a good teacher and a Great story teller.

Thank you,

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3631 days

#7 posted 03-13-2011 08:54 PM

Hey Mark
no toe stepping here . I enjoyed the tour and sure know about to many tools in what space one has.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Paul C.'s profile

Paul C.

154 posts in 3300 days

#8 posted 03-13-2011 09:29 PM

ok, i squeezed my table saw and a jointer into a small area by the door. they are both on wheels, so they can be moved as needed. I orient my saw according to the kind of cuts I do, rips or crosscuts. surprisingly, this does not give me trouble with my dust collection. Across a narrow aisle, I have two benches, a workbench, and an assembly planer is on a crappy wheeled cart, cause I’m too old to be picking it up on a regular basis.

I store my router table and fMT under the assembly table, and bring them out as needed. I have a crappy bandsaw on a wheeled cart that I store beside the workbench, and wheel out as needed. I use a mitre saw for crosscutting, and made a station for it.

my bench has a bunch of drawers for storage. I hang my hand tool case on the wall behind my bench. My plane, saw, and router bit cabinets hang behind my jointer. I have to walk 3ft across the shop to grab tools for the bench, but what the hell. :-)

I use a 1.5 HP dust collector for all this, joined by pvc, (mostly on the ceiling) this makes the shop livable, as moving my dc is out of the question.

It is lit by 4 double fluorescent fixtures. I’m old, I need more.

security is provided by two ancient cats who love intruders to death.

For finishing, I only use tried and true, shellac, and beeswax polish, as my autistic daughter is hyper sensitive to solvents.

Does it work? Yep. to build large carcases, I assemble them in the rec-room next to my garage/shop. my dust collection is effective enough that the dust doesn’t wander into my house. A cyclone is my next major purchase to make this even more effective.

does that answer the question?

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 3173 days

#9 posted 03-13-2011 09:30 PM

Very impressive shop, tools, and story, with time and energy, and of course $$$$, I hope to improve my own working condition, yours is a story of inspiration, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2730 days

#10 posted 03-14-2011 03:07 AM

Hey Paul,
Sounds like a nice set up to me. You should take some pictures and share them with us.
Nothing wrong with crappy band saws. Better than nothing. They are great hand me downs to new woodworkers and a stepping stone to the next one.

Old Cats are cool.
I have a 17 yr. old long Angora haired cat named Tess. She HAS to lay on anything newly placed or moved like a our friend’s coat, the top of the ladder, inside a cabinet, and all over my drop clothes when I’m working in the house. Even though I shake the drops good I still find her hair on my job sites and stuck in the paint! Doh!

No big deal. She’s my little girl. Wouldn’t trade her for anything.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics