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154 posts in 2782 days

Location: Swellendam, South Africa

Hi. I have been woodworking for about 40 years and have recently retired to Swellendam in the Western Cape province of South Africa, where we bought an historic house built around 1810-1840. We are restoring the building at present. My interest lies in 18th and 19th century period British and American furniture. I am currently in the process of building and fitting out what I hope will be my best workshop.

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5 comments so far

View TobiasZA's profile


154 posts in 2782 days

#1 posted 03-10-2014 08:13 AM

I needed a new workshop. Simply put, over the past 40 odd years of working in wood, my tool compliment, hand and machinery, has grown along with my passion. The new shop will be my fourth incarnation of my passion for recreating 18th and 19th century furniture, and hopefully be my dream shop. My partner and I started looking in earnest for a new house. Two criteria were critically important. Firstly the house had to have character and history……lots of it, and secondly I needed to create a new workshop.

Months of searching ensued. House after house, we looked, we schemed and were repeatedly disappointed. After about six fruitless months, we came upon a small country town in South Africa called Swellendam in the Western Cape. What a gem. Oak trees lined the wide streets. Karoo architecture everywhere, a working museum, a berry farm, exquisite Langeberge mountains, the Breede River, and peace and quiet. A far cry from the noise and bustle of the southern suburbs of Cape Town where we currently live.

Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa, its beginnings were in the mid 1700’s. It is steeped in colonial history and we fell in love.

Our house was built around 1830, thick mud brick wall and sash windows. In the kitchen we have a firewood stove. A dream come true for both of us. And best of all, enough space to create my workshop.

Dismantling my old shop proved to be a monumental task, why do we collect 2” off cuts of wood that we know we shall never ever use? I realised that I would need to revise my layout and storage systems dramatically, if the move and installation was to go smoothly, and to enable me to get up and running in the shop in a short period of time.

Plenty of drawings, trawling through my FWW collection and the internet and copious amounts of tea later, I had a plan! I based my system on a standardised 600mm wide by 500mm deep by 800mm high cabinet on castors. Machines are all bolted on to the 32mm countertop material, and each cabinet has a different internal configuration, depending on the mounted machine.
List of basic 600mm wide cabinets for the Machine Room:
1. Router Table Workstation
2. Mortiser Workstation
3. Bobbin Sander Workstation
4. Scroll Saw Workstation
5. Leigh Jig Workstation
6. Drill Press Workstation

List of special cabinets for my Machine Room:
1. Lathe Workstation
2. Mitre Saw Workstation
3. Table Saw outfeed table
4. Metalwork bench
5. Grinding and polishing Workstation
List of special cabinets for my Bench Room:
1. hand tools (floor standing parallel to workbench) 2000mm wide by 600mm deep
2. assembly and finishing (two tables 1200mm wide by 1200mm deep roll around)
3. clamp racks (All wall mounted in finishing area)
4. Computer workstation (As far away from dust as possible)
5. Small woodburning stove to heat the bench room in winter and to burn my mistakes… maybe I should get a much bigger one!!
6. Wall mounted cabinets x four, with glass doors. These are mainly to hold my FWW collection for easy reference and my burgeoning collection of woodworking, period furniture history, and reference books.
7. A roll around cabinet 1400mm high fitted with numerous drawers for hardware, fittings, screws, dowels and the like.

My partner came up with a gem of an idea, put more windows in the bench room, so I will have four large sash windows for natural light. Bless her! From the Bench Room there will be double doors leading into the machine room. All lumber will be stored in the Machine Room.

The Bench Room will have a wood floor over half of the area for the main bench. The rest of the room will have its concrete floor painted in grey epoxy. Much easier to clean spills that inevitably happen in the assembly finishing area.

All the lighting will be fluorescent with specific angle poise lamps at the drill press, lathe, Leigh Jig and router table.

The air compressor and the dust extraction system will be located in a separate outside cubicle, which I shall sound proof with Illsonic acoustic tiles. The dust extraction and compressed air will be piped overhead throughout both rooms. The electrical reticulation will be somewhat over the top, but I have learned rather to have too many electrical outlets than too few.

In a corner of the Bench Room will be a stainless steel basin and hot and cold running water.

All walls will be painted white.

I am new to the forum, so if anyone has clever ideas for my new shop, I am all ears!!

View a1Jim's profile


118258 posts in 4820 days

#2 posted 03-10-2014 03:22 PM

Welcome to Ljs a world wide community were there are great people,super projects and great woodworkers.Enjoy !
Because I often get asked questions by new members I’ve included the answers to the most( FAQ) along with my welcoming message to LJs.
You should know that posting questions or projects here (your profile page) will not get you very many responses’ just because it’s your profile page not part of a main forum. To post in a main forum read below.
Want to know how to post something?
See the drop-down box underneath my Lumberjocks in the upper right hand corner. Click on the arrow and select which type of posting you want to make (Project, Blog entry, Forum topic). This will take you to the appropriate page and you just fill in the form.
Sending Private messages(PMs) to other members
Click on the word” home” next to the profile picture of the member you want to contact ,then click on “send message”
Need help with posting or other questions ?
Contact: Cricket Walker
(Ljs community manager)
Just for the record even though I have a large number of post I’m not involved with LJs management ,I’m just another member.


View TobiasZA's profile


154 posts in 2782 days

#3 posted 03-11-2014 06:01 AM

Hi Jim and thanks for the heads up on using LJ.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3670 days

#4 posted 03-11-2014 06:35 AM

Welcom to LJ’s – You Workbench is very nice, I would like to see more of your projects, I have a feeling that you have a lot to offer to beginner LJ’s like me.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View TobiasZA's profile


154 posts in 2782 days

#5 posted 03-11-2014 07:14 AM

Hi exelec. thanks for the compliment. i am building my new shop at present having moved home in December, so it will be a while before |I shall be able to start projects again. Restoring a house built in the early 1800s is a major mission, but am really enjoying it.

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