Getting around to finishing the shop, advice needed on wrap around work surface

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Forum topic by mcg1990 posted 01-22-2015 04:16 AM 1805 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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159 posts in 1534 days

01-22-2015 04:16 AM

I’ve a modest 23ish x 13ish shop that I’m about to finish insulating and wall up. So far I’ve made do with a giant cumbersome workbench (if you could call it that) but now that I’ve got my table saw inside I’m needing to push my work area to the outside and build cabinets to store all the junk.

I mainly want to pose my ideas for the wrap around work surface, and ask for input on whether any of my ideas are superfluous, too short sighted or what have you. Firstly, I’ll quickly describe the image:

The red lines indicate a future fence for the mitre-saw, probably the Kreg Trak and Stop. The mitre saw itself will be recessed, as mine currently is, to have a flush cutting surface.
The orange lines are where I’m debating between bench dogs and face clamps or the Kreg T-track system, which does look pretty nifty. I do a lot of pocket holes at the moment, and see myself continuing to do so for quite a while, whereas it’ll be some time before I try my hand at any manual planing and/or dovetailing etc.
The orange block is simply where I plan to rout out a little slot for my Kreg jig to nestle in, all cosy like.

My main design priority is building something functional and dynamic. I know that as I continue to grow as a woodworker I’ll need my table to grow with me – I don’t want to get to a certain point and regret my choice to slap up a work table of 2×4s and plywood. I need to be able to add a T-track if I want that, or bench dogs and vices if I want those. I’ll also probably start with a simple shell, but with a view to add drawers and cabinets for a cleaner look.

Something like this:

However that’s the plywood top that I’m trying to get away from, and it looks like it’d be a nightmare to ever try and clamp with/onto. I think what I want is the base of that design, but with the jointed, butcher-block style 2×4 top that seems most common.

And so with all of that said, can you see any glaring holes in my plan? I fear I may be trying too hard to future-proof it, or perhaps, is it easier than I’m thinking to design an adaptive work area? The two are opposites, yet I feel like the two are equally as likely.

If you’ve done something similar and found that you missed something out and regret it, or conversely you went way overboard and spent too much time and money on the design, please let me know.


8 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3212 days

#1 posted 01-22-2015 10:37 AM

Is that a disk sander in the middle of your miter saw workstation?
If that is the miter saw it is going to throw an awful lot of dust at that window.
And, if you try to put a hood on it to catch the dust it seems like it would block the window.

I’m not a fan of having my workbench against a wall but understand in a narrow space it is sometimes necessary.

I like to be able to work on all sides of my bench with at least a leg or face vise on one left hand corner (I’m right handed), and an end vise on the opposite end. Where are you going to put your vise?

A double layer of 3/4” plywood with a solid wood band is a pretty sturdy surface for a work table and that frame in your picture would be good for a bench with a wall behind it. A free standing bench would probably need beefier stretchers attached by jointery like mortise and tenons or at least lap joints.

View mcg1990's profile


159 posts in 1534 days

#2 posted 01-22-2015 02:11 PM

Sadly I can’t put the mitre saw anywhere else. The side walls are so narrow that chopping anything over 8ft becomes an issue, and the back wall is best suited for other stationary machinery (it has my 220v outlets all along it). Also, although dust on the window might be a bit of an issue it’s worth it to be able to have a view.

If it weren’t for that I could switch around the mitre saw/kreg locations and have fine spaces for clamps, but I can’t put my tail vice right down the end of the bench obvious reasons. I may have to just add vices to my outfeed table but plan to only work there when absolutely necessary.

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

553 posts in 3239 days

#3 posted 01-23-2015 02:18 AM

I agree that putting the chop saw right in front of the window is a bit of waste. Instead try extending the ‘red’ bench to the double doors and put the chop saw between the window and the double doors. You could build some sort of flip top table/wing extension to the right of the chop saw to hold long pieces. That way you would have a nice natural lit workspace that you could use for more than chop saw storage.


View ChefHDAN's profile


1231 posts in 3091 days

#4 posted 01-23-2015 02:39 AM

Something to think about is how often you’re actually cutting long stock at the MS too. I’m in a two car garage and have everything on mobile bases albeit the MS really never moves much unless I need to angle it away from the wall to cut long stock. My workbench a/k/a clutter catcher is just to the left of the MS and I’ve got support blocks made that are equal to the height of the MS bed. I saw something similar in a video by Ng woodworks, who has his MS on a straight bench with blocks to support to the right and left, his looked way better than mine but he was using calipers and feeler gauges to measure and adjust a box joint jig.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View mcg1990's profile


159 posts in 1534 days

#5 posted 01-26-2015 03:24 PM

Thanks, I think I will move the mitre saw between the window and door and put a fold out support on the other side of the doors for long stock. Good idea.

One more thing – Are there any big no-nos to having your primary workbench double as your TS outfeed table? I need a workbench that I can walk all the way around – for clamps etc – but I don’t have space for both. It may require a little juggling and forethought in terms of making sure I don’t have something gluing up while needing to rip more lumber, but other than that are there any large design/feature clashes that I’m not considering?

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 3128 days

#6 posted 01-26-2015 03:33 PM

I did the same thing and ended up ripping it out. For me counter space is storage space and I junk it up if I have it.

I have a portable table made out of 4X4 and 3/4 ply made to same size as my table saw for a work bench. I went with that size because I was using my saw for a bench. It has worked out great.

Also it looks like you may have a smaller shop being 23X13, you may want to consider not having perminate fixtures in there like counter tops. It would be nice to have as much floor space as you need, if you needed it. Have you considered buying a miter saw stand that can be folded up and put out of the way when not needed or if you need the extra space.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3212 days

#7 posted 01-27-2015 02:41 AM

I have my work bench on the infeed side of my saw with about 4 feet between them. Then I use a couple of roller stands on the output side if I need them. I never rip whole sheets of plywood or OSB or MDF on the table saw. I always cut these down with my circular saw first. So any long ripping I do is always skinny stuff, easy to support on the rollers.

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1028 posts in 1816 days

#8 posted 01-28-2015 07:42 PM

I would move the saw to the long bench “end wall” and draw a line straight down the edge to the wall making it two benches,so later if you decide to change the lay out you don’t have to tear up everything you can just take out one bench or move them both without wasting them.
Also would turn your saw 90 dreeges so you can slide the wood out the truck and on to your TS though the door without having to drag it in and turning to put it on your TS.
Where is your wood storage going to be?

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