my woodworking shop under construction

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Blog entry by Jim55 posted 10-09-2012 05:25 PM 2892 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First of all, I really have no concept of what a “blog” really is. I have never made one and really know nothing about them. But, I posted the following under “my workshop” and it just seemed too much for what I feel that should be and since my shop is a project in progress and changing, just maybe that is what thishere “blog” is for and that it might better fit here, whatever “here” is.

If I am wrong or out of line in doing this here, please let me know. This is a whole new experience for me.
Now, in the spirit of things, as I understand(?!) them, I will add to this periodically as progress is made. Now, I called this my “woodworking” shop. That is it’s primary focus. But, this is a little farm, our place in the country, and I am an ex-machinist so metal working will sometimes intrude. That’s why there’s a welder in this picture. In time, the welder will be situated close to the main front bay door of the barn where it will be most used.
So, here goes…

“my workshop” is in a high degree of flux just now. I inherited a shop space in one corner of the barn when we bought our little place. I have been dumping odds and ends in it as need dictated. Wood working projects have built to the point my wife just said, “Get what you need to make your shop.” Whoopee!!! (:D
I intend to have a twofold shop. We have a 40’x70’ metal barn with concrete floor. One corner was previously closed in as a shop. I am going to gut and clean that for use for small project work like carving, small article painting (non-spraying) and things like that that don’t generate much dust. My ‘clean-room’ call it.
The space behind that shop I mean for heavy work machinery such as power saws, sanders, lathe, and the like. I have installed a dust collector running 3” PVC* around the walls with periodic drops to attach machines to with flex hose. I also have about 3 large heavy duty old time drafting tables I inherited with the place (previous owner was a pre-computer age draftsman/architect) These seem to make great stable work tables. I also have a table we built. It’s plenty solid. I tend to take the German view of engineering. If a 1×4 is good enough to serve, use a 2×6.
  • In reading dust collection topics I have noticed that the common size pvc is 4.” I wondered about that when buying my pipe but that seemed overlarge and I was concerned about losing suction. We’ll see if this will work out. You can see by the picture below that my runs are linear and not over long. Except in the very corners, I did not use any 90s to aid in chip flow. Let me know if you all think that will cause me trouble.
    The small pvc line is a compressed air line.

Now, I am not rich, far from it being on a fixed income. A look at my image will reveal a number of HF boxes.
Now, wait a minute!
Don’t start trashing my HF stuff. I have selected with care! I have done a lot of research before buying. What I have found is that in many cases, the brand name machines are the very same machine as the machine from HF maybe differing only in minor details and maybe colors. For example, my 14” HF band saw only differs in stand and switch location from a Grizzly saw for twice the money. I have seen other like machines sold for 3, even 4 times the money as an identical HF machine. I once saw a Jet brand machine listed for $700+ dollars that was identical to a HF machine I paid less than $200 for on sale. Another trick about HF/Cheap Chinese machines is first of all, to buy it cheap and only on sale then, upgrade it to suit. This can bring about a solid machine for less than a comparable brand name item so equipped.
My bandsaw is a case in point. I believe I gave about $200 for it (w/extended warranty). Then I added “cool blocks” and a Grizzly riser kit (same machine, remember?) Modified the tension knob to a crank handle and moved the switch into the same location as the Grizz- the holes were already there- drilled & tapped. Finally, I added a fence. Based on my research, a similarly set up machine would have cost me hundreds more to buy than what I have now and not necessarily been any better. And of course, I bought some good blades but from what I read, pretty much everybody’s blades provided with their machines are miserable.

My in-progress shop… (I know, It ain’t purty. And it ain’t going to be. But, it will work for me.)

To the front left I intend to build a long saw table with a miter saw built in. In the far corner I am putting my lathe. It is a standard “mini-lathe” of 10” swing and 18” workpiece length. I am adding a 40” bed extension to that. It is sitting on an old dresser with a piece of plywood on top to extend it’s length. The drawers come in handy. I have another dresser I intend to fit in someplace as well.
To the right of the D/C is my sanders row. I believe in sanders in the role of wood shaping. I have an oscillating drum sander and a 1”x30” belt sander. also a 4”x36” inch belt/disc sander that I have had for years. It is getting tired but keeps on going round. Those are all HF. But, I left HF for a “serious” sander. I wanted something that will really move wood if I want it so. I did a lot of research before settling upon a 6”x48” belt/10” disc sander by Rockford. It is 1HP, and has cast iron tables for both belt and disc. The frame is cast iron. Only plastic is on handle knobs. One feature I appreciate of it is that the disc sets below the level of the belt when laid horizontal. Many, if not most, belt/disc combination sanders have the disc sitting above the horizontal belt level. That really limits how it can be used as I have found on my 4”x36” sander. One thing I don’t like about the Rockford is that it has a “cabinet base. The only thing is, there’s no “cabinet” to it. The entire thing is open and there are no shelves. The door’s only purpose, even though cut with louvers, is to allow access for bolting down the machine. Obviously, I am putting a shelve or shelves in it. The machine only cost $529 and the company shipped it to my house with no additional charges for shipping!
Coming down the right are machines dumped temporarily. I may leave the bandsaw where you see it but, the table saw is going up to what is the front right in the photo where the table is. I haven’t decided where that table is going to go. This is on the edge of the though lane between barn doors and that location gives me plenty of room to run large stuff like full sheets of plywood as I will. I haven’t figured out my other machines placement beyond that. I have a junky router table (that is HF’s lowest end R-table and I do NOT recommend it.) but I have a wood working magazine with plans for a great router table I may build. I also have a planer to put out. I also have an old bench top drill press and a floor drill press. I think I’ll put the bench drill in the front shop.
The welder goes to the front of the barn as will the grinder I think.
There you have it. If any have suggestions, I’m open to hear them. I know a lot more about Machine shops than I do wood shops.

5 comments so far

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3927 days

#1 posted 10-09-2012 05:34 PM

I think we all know how you feel.

MY shop is ever changing also. I would love to have room to work, it looks like you have a decent shop there !!!

I would be sure to have plenty of shelves & drawers to get things out of the way, I have also noticed that the more stuff behind closed doors the better – NO DUST !!!

Good Luck

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Grumpymike's profile


2469 posts in 3202 days

#2 posted 10-09-2012 09:30 PM

Looks to me like you are well on your way. Now as you start working you will see that this thing needs to be over there and then i will move that over to make room … Most shops are a work in progress. Forever.
All of the how to books tell you to have your sheet goods and lumber come in at one end and rotate through the shop as you breakdown the pieces.
I guess that theroy works well in production shops with a Kagillion square feet of floor space, but most of us work in a limited space necessitating us to put our tools on wheels.
HF tools? I am not qualified to make that judgement … However, when I was looking at bandsaws to replace my underpowered 12” Craftsman That I had used for almost 20 years, I looked at the new Craftsman and listened to the sales pitch that it was a Ricon saw made for Sears at a lessor price. I then looked at the Ricon saw and found many things were not the same. The folks at Ricon told me that they donot make the saw for sears, it is a knockoff. I bought the Ricon because I liked it better and I got to use one on a demo at the store.
the bottom line here is be careful of what you buy at a great price, you may soon have to replace it and pay again.
I have found through time and experiance that some of the good buy tools that I have gotten through the years are not as acurate as I need now that my skills have been polished. I never cut to the 1/4 inch as in timber framing I cut to the 1/64th and finer. and 45’s must be exactly 45 degrees.
Good luck with your shop, I will keep an eye out for future developments.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Jim55's profile


194 posts in 2953 days

#3 posted 10-10-2012 07:14 AM

Now there’s truth about what you say in reference to accuracy. But, as a beginner, cheaper stuff is just fine. If/when I get where I need to hold tolerance I’ll get that better equipment. I will also by then have an idea of just what I need and what is a good value for my needs. Right now I could spend $600+ for a machine and still end up with a $200 machine through ignorance.
But I’ll tell you one story. As a machinist cutting cast iron, we used HF dial calipers. As a rule, they were good for the +/-.004 that is the limitation for that kind of instrument anyway. A fellow came in with a $119 Starrett dial caliper. I did a side by side with my HF $17 calipers and you know what? There was virtually no difference beyond the dial face. What’s more, my cheapos were smoother and tuned out they actually lasted longer than that fellow’s Starrett! So I still maintain more expensive does not necessarily = better. And we usually kept 2 or 3 of them. When one started jamming up, we just tossed them in the chip bin and grabbed another. It’s hard to do that with a hundred dollar tool.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3159 days

#4 posted 10-10-2012 05:48 PM


Welcome to LumberJocks , a world of advise, opinions, and experiences, all shared without judgement.

Kudos on securing a dedicated work space, you are on your way.

”Wood working projects have built to the point my wife just said, “Get what you need to make your shop.” Whoopee!!! (:D”

I just have one thing to say about that statement. ’She’s a Keeper.’ ;-)

On the subject of fleshing-out your tool assortment, as you have aptly pointed out, accuracy, reliablity and fair quality in tools is more important than price.
It’s a poor craftsman that blames his tools for the quality of his work.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Jim55's profile


194 posts in 2953 days

#5 posted 10-12-2012 02:20 AM

I just have one thing to say about that statement. ’She’s a Keeper.’ ;-)
She is, that. :)

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