Time to make some changes to the shop. #1: Lets get started

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Blog entry by AngieO posted 09-12-2013 04:06 AM 2723 reads 0 times favorited 34 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Time to make some changes to the shop. series Part 2: Step One - Get rid of the old built in bench. »

Well… It just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t share pics of my first “workshop”. Many of you have already seen it… But here it is again.

Yep. that’s where I got my start. Working outside on a stack of pallets and some plastic tables. Of course, when it was too hot outside I didn’t get to work. And when it rained I didn’t get to work. And then when it got cold I didn’t do anything at all. The above pic was taken August 2012.

In January 2013 I filled for divorce. And in February 2013, during a bad day I was having, a dear friend of mine who had also went through a divorce had me over and was trying to cheer me up. Little did she know that her words would change so many things. As we walked around her property she was telling me I needed to look for the little positive things and focus on them. She pointed at her garage and said “see that garage? Now that I’m single i can do whatever I want with it. I can park my car, not park my car. I can store stuff in it or I can throw stuff out of it that I don’t want in there. I can do whatever I want with it. At that very moment I realized something. I too had a garage. One that was previously off limits to me. And now… I could do WHATEVER I WANTED WITH IT. :) My eyes grew big and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And I found my inspiration to keep moving forward.

It just so happens that on that very weekend it was my weekend that I had no kids. I started immediately cleaning the garage up. I had lots of stuff in there that belonged to my ex so I was probably only using half of the space. This is probably what it looked like soon after that weekend.

As the months went by I slowly took over more and more space. Finally… I removed ALL the ex’s items and stored them at my moms. And eventually took out everything that wasn’t shop related except a few lawn care items. Now my whole garage is dedicated to woodworking. And I have to tell you… I couldn’t be happier.

It was just in June 2013 that the divorce was final and the house… and garage… became officially mine.
And let me tell you… garages are for cars… this is a WORKSHOP! :)

So now that summer is over and school has started and the shop is all mine… it’s time to make some changes. To start… you can see in the above pic that my miter saw is sitting on a built in workbench. This was there when we bought the house in 2009. Here’s the problem with it… everything. LOL :). It’s not deep enough, it’s too high, its really long so it takes up too much space and for the top they glued down sticky tile. You know… the vinyl laminate stuff. And due to a previous leak… those tiles are coming up.

And as you can see… the pegboard has some issues of it’s own. It’s been wet so it’s bowed. It also was put right up against the wall. So there are quite a few places on the pegboard that you can’t even hang anything. It totally needs replaced as well.

So here is a pic of this wall.

To the left of the bench is my new ReStore find that is temporarily storing some of my tools. Ideally… what I’d like to do is tear out the workbench and build a miter station for my new miter saw. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I was waiting for two things… 1) To have the house in my name alone. And 2) Get a new miter saw. Well… House became mine in June and a couple of weeks ago I got my new miter saw. So…. it’s time to get moving.

This bench is 40” tall, 10 1/2’ long and 21 1/2” deep. I want to tear it out and tear out the peg board.

I figured I’d blog about this adventure. And even though I’ve thoroughly tore my shop up in ways. And I will begin demolish this weekend… I still did so in a way that will still allow me to work on my other projects… namely… the room divider (shoji frame) that I’m building for my mom. And eventually…I will also get to get back to work on my bench as well.

So… time to start searching for what to build. I’m open to some suggestions. I’d like to hear what has worked for you guys and what hasn’t. THings you’d do differently if you were starting again on your shop. I have this entire wall to play with. I’ve thrown a few ideas around in my mind. I’ve obviously thought about doing a built in miter station. But i also have considered building one that is mobile.

I do know there are some features that I definitely want to make sure I have. My new miter saw has an awesome feature… it has an extending fence on it that has a build in stop. LOVE IT. I used it to make the room divider. It has 12 short pieces and it was great. Measured once, adjusted the fence, flipped down the stop and cut the other 11. And they are all the same size. Love that for repeated cuts. And it would be nice to be able to do the same thing with some longer pieces as well.

Anyhow… more on that in another post. Off to bed. Thanks for reading this and I look forward to your ideas.

Oh… PS… that window unit… not staying. I have another window AC on the other side of the garage. And it does all I need it to do. This little one is coming out and going in an upstairs bedroom window. (My future room). And notice how I’m storing my clamps… that needs to change. I will probably replace the pegboard but instead it will be with a framed piece that can be moved anywhere. Just wanted to add those things :)

34 comments so far

View Manitario's profile


2781 posts in 3388 days

#1 posted 09-12-2013 04:32 AM

Nice shop Angie! My first shop was a tiny garage that I stored my tools in beside random yard tools and other non-woodworking related crap. I slowly managed to force most of the non-woodworking stuff out…now I have a bigger garage completely dedicated to woodworking but it still isn’t big enough! Some of the fun of this hobby is slowly designing a shop and making all the stuff for it. Looks like you’re well on your way.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3391 posts in 4218 days

#2 posted 09-12-2013 06:57 AM


You’ve certainly made some quick progress. I made 18’ of workbench along one wall out of lab cabinets I got for next to nothing from a university surplus store—8’ on either end and 2’ in the middle so I can have a completely level bench or take the 2’ top off and drop my horizontal router table into place. I had planned to use that space to drop in the miter saw, but I haven’t done that yet and I’m not certain if I ever will. I made extension fences for it that I use on top of the bench.

It will be fun to see your progress.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23364 posts in 3611 days

#3 posted 09-12-2013 12:21 PM

Hi Angie. I also have a small shop and I find that if you build your wall benches too deep, you can’t reach the stuff hanging on the wall. Test your reach using a tape measure to see how far you want to come out from the wall.
The other thing, it is nice to have bench that you can walk around. This may not be your main bench where you sit and do fine cutting or pounding, but mostly assembly. I have small roll around table in the basement shop that sometimes is in the way but most of the time is very handy for assembly. It is on wheels, of course.

Don’t forget to put in plenty of outlets. I had two on the front of my bench and then I added 4 more in front and 4 on the side. some times there are a lot of tools out like 3 sanders a Dremel, biscuit cutter, etc and I don’t like to have to plug and unplug to keep working. One of those power strips will work for that. You usually don’t have more than one tool running at a time and they are not high amp rated.

Oh, one last thing I just found to be so helpful: I put my two trash cans on wheels in the shop. One is for wood cut offs and the other trash. I used to drag them from one place to another depending on where I was working and the wood cut offs get heavy and will wear out the bottom of the barrel. I mounted a piece of plywood to the bottom and put in 4 T’ nuts and screw in swivel casters.

Keep up the good work!!....................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3018 days

#4 posted 09-12-2013 12:51 PM

I really enjoyed reading your story and adventure Angie, as for as the ex belongings they would have been the first thing out the door, under a tarp real quick and then let him know where it’s at and to come get it.

First thing I think if you don’t already have it is to focus on is a nice level workbench with a flat level surface for when you start building things they need to be plumb and accurate.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Brad's profile


1140 posts in 3245 days

#5 posted 09-12-2013 12:54 PM

Indeed Angie. Reshaping your shop space to you own liking will make a huge difference in the way you enjoy your time there. It was the right call to move the Ex’s stuff out of there. A 40” high bench is pretty tall so maybe a new workbench is in your future.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View BENTWOOD's profile


401 posts in 2287 days

#6 posted 09-12-2013 01:35 PM

Thanks for this posting! It has inspired me to reorganize my work space. Projects just flow better when the work area is clean and organized.
One item you might be interested in is magnetic tool bar hangers. They allow my smaller metal hand tools to be readily accessible but still out of the way.


View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3573 days

#7 posted 09-12-2013 01:35 PM

There is a lot of information available on Lumber Jocks as well on the net and magazines ( Shop Notes & Wood). Do your homework to figure out what will work best for you. My shop is in a two car garage with one side to park a vehicle when not working in my shop, so all my equipment is mounted on casters or carts with casters.
One thing I recommend is to be sure you have plenty of power outlets, adequate lighting and that your breakers can handle the power your equipment will require. I had an additional circuit put in just for my shop, it gets frustrating when working and you keep throwing breakers.

Sounds like your off to a good start, good luck. Let the saw dust fly!

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View doubleDD's profile


8647 posts in 2548 days

#8 posted 09-12-2013 01:37 PM

One of the things I would consider when setting up shop is tool location. Fitting those in between any tables, desks, workbenches, etc. This is all preference and everyone has a different approach for their needs. My table saw usually handles the biggest pieces of lumber, say 4’ x 8’, so that has to have the most room around it. But again, as you heard many times before, what ever works for you, will be the final chapter. ps It doesn’t matter too much cause you end up moving things every so often anyway. Its the woodworkers way. At least it’s a start.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2653 days

#9 posted 09-12-2013 01:43 PM

I do have a rolling workbench in the middle of my shop. Kind of happened by accident. When the ex’s stuff was still in there it was like the dividing wall. I didn’t think I’d like it but I love being able to walk around it and reach all sides.

Now that I’ve added wheels to it, it doesn’t feel as sturdy. But it has served me well. It was my first big build. Right now I have this green counter top on top of it for a flat level surface. I assembled the frame I’m working on here and needed it. It’s not attached so it’s easily moved off and leaned against the wall.

And here’s the view from the other side.

Outlets… well… the ex is a musician so he put in lots of outlets. They are however all on the ceiling. LOL. Well… most of them. He’s like 6’ something and I’m almost 5’3”. But I do have a stool. lol
I also have this very nice contraption.

Sorry for the cruddy pics. I took these with my cell. But in the center of the pic you can see I have a retractable extension cord. It has three of four plugs on it. It is right above the end of my workbench that is in the middle of the shop. And you can also see from this pic that the outlets are on the rafters. There are three rafters. On the back one there are three. The middle one has three as well but middle outlet that you see on the right of the picture has multiple outlets. Then the third one has two. There’s one on the far wall above the cabinets where the freezer is. Plus there are two along the underneath of the hanging cabinets.
Not sure how this one will turn out…. Because the pegboard is coming off. But as you can see… one outlet at bench height and another on the ceiling. There is one more that is by the lightswitch when you walk in the door.

In the pic that shows the garage door… you can also see that I have a heater hanging from the ceiling. Man this puppy puts out some heat. No excuses this winter of it being too cold to work :)

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2653 days

#10 posted 09-12-2013 01:49 PM

doubleDD. After cleaning up… :) you can see from the pic of the garage door that my table saw is at the end of my bench there. I love that it is on wheel an I can easily move it. But I also have lot of space there from the saw to the garage door to move things around. And my planer is there by the garage door as well and it is on wheels. For the last several weeks my garage door has been blocked. So nice to have that space free again.

BENTWOOD… it was so nice to go out there today and get ready to work and have a nice “cleaner” shop to work in. It’s coming along.

I think I counted that I have 15 outlets. :)

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2990 days

#11 posted 09-12-2013 03:05 PM

Angie, seems like you’re right on track for making your perfect workspace.

If you’re looking to make a miter saw station, I’d recommend something like this. That way you can save space, and even move it out of the way completely if need be.

Click for details

A clamp rack will free up some wall space, and I’d consider a lumber rack for the corner, too.

-- Brian Timmons -

View woodsmithshop's profile


1388 posts in 4051 days

#12 posted 09-12-2013 03:10 PM

one of my favorite things to do in the shop , is to redesign the layout, sometimes it makes for more efficient work flow, sometimes not, but at least you get to try different ways to do something. my first shop was a 10’x 14’ metal storage shed, then I built a 24’x36’ pole barn and 12’x 24’ of that was my shop, then we moved and I built a 24’x 36’ dedicated shop, then a few years later I added a 30’x 48’ to that, and I still do not have enough room, lol. you will never be totally satisfied with your shop, which is good, you will always be thinking of some way to improve upon it.

-- Smitty!!!

View NormG's profile


6441 posts in 3509 days

#13 posted 09-12-2013 03:35 PM

Wow, y9ou are heading in the right direction. You will get it where you want

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3369 days

#14 posted 09-12-2013 03:44 PM

I started expanding my little shed last October. I am still working on that. I too want to build a miter-saw
station. I am leaning toward a mobile station. As I have a small shop , I need to be frugal with space and
just want the option to be able to move things around.

I also have one wall above a utility bench with pegboard. My plan is to build a clam-shelled cabinet . The
clam-shell designs allow multiple doors that fold inside each other and that way, you can double or triple
storage, in the same amount of wall space .

You really have come a long way since June. I’m still building, lol. I should hopefully have this expansion
completed enough to finally start on the inside within a month.

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3372 days

#15 posted 09-12-2013 03:46 PM

Angie, you have a nice shop and I love your determination. May you always be happy in your work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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