After I bought my new big bandsaw a couple of years ago I found that my shop was too crowded and not functioning the way it should. There was no place to assemble larger projects and I had no workplace for my new interest in marquetry work or storage for all the related tools and veneers.
My shop is so small that my options are pretty limited with regard to the placement of my machines, benches, etc. It seemed a hopeless task to figure out a better set-up, but I finally did a couple of simple moves that worked out to be major improvements with regard to comfortable and efficient working conditions.
I moved my big bandsaw to a new location and I moved the large tool cabinet hung over my planing bench away. I then made a plane till and I mounted all my chisels, files, carving tools, screw drivers, etc. on the wall behind my bench. Most of my bench tools are still readily available, but I am no longer knocking my head into the tool cabinet doors and my hand planes are all within easy reach.
Improvement work to date
The next two photos show the new plane till and the tool holders on the wall behind my bench. The bench is pretty messy due to the rearranging. I’ve since cleaned that up and fixed the electric cords better.
My new bench
I am also building a new bench which will be in the back part of my ‘L’ shaped shop. This bench will be used mainly for marquetry assembly work and to store all my marquetry veneers and equipment, plus I will keep my light table on the far end.
The bench is built with two openings in the front. One to house an unused chest of drawers I have on hand for storing veneers and related marquetry equipment/tools. The other as a kind of desk where I can sit to assemble marquetry and do other detail work. It will also be used for assembling and gluing larger projects and it will even be heavy enough to use it as a planing bench if I wish.
The base is all 2X4 mortise and tenon construction with the bridle joints to hold the top rails. The top will be 2-3/4” thick Spruce glued up from 2X3s. The mortises were drilled out with a forstner bit and shave to final size with a chisel. The tenon shoulders were cut on the table saw and the cheeks were cut a little oversized on the bandsaw and then shave with a chisel to a good fit. Here is a photo of progress to date. The base is ready for glue-up on Monday, and then I will start on the top. I plan to glue 4 boards at a time for the top just to keep the work manageable in my small shop. It will probably take all week for that job if I want to leave each glue up to dry overnight. Here is a photo of progress to date. Please note the kind of space I have for large projects of this kind. I hope this new bench will cure that problem!
The reason I chose a bridle joint construction for the top rails was so that I could extend the end of the table quite a bit further than the legs. This is because I have a lumber storage rack on the wall which the table will hang over. The rails aren’t cut to final length yet.
I plan to to improve my storage solutions and also to paint my cabinets to get a cohesive look into the shop and also just to freshen it up a bit to make a more pleasant working environment. I will post more in this series as I progress. I hope it will give others with small or awkwardly shaped shops some inspiration. I am also open to any ideas that you may have. Thanks for reading!
-- Mike, American in Norway The four steps towards competency: 1. unconscious incompetence, 2. conscious incompetence, 3. conscious competence, 4. unconscious competence