Workstation – the heart of my shop

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Project by JohnnyStrawberry posted 01-25-2013 10:11 PM 37895 views 21 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I moved in to the new cave (from our living room…) I’d already had its plans in my head – roughly but the functions were clear. Table saw, router table, both with dust collection, table saw sled, fence, drawers and a bit rack with all my drill bits and router bits in the top drawer.

Table saw
I know it sounds weird but I just don’t feel justified the price for any table saw. I’m probably wrong but this setup works just fine for me. Just have a look at this crosscut. It’s like a mirror.

OK, it’s made by the smallest high end Bosch blade (laser cut, non sticking, bla-bla) squeezed in an industrial grade Bosch circular saw. DON’T DO THIS. To build this kinda setup I had to remove the blade guard which allowed me to use a ¾” bigger blade (since in this category that is the smallest blade from Bosch). Removing the guard and cutting a hole on the housing of the blade allowed me to attach an improvised dust hood that makes dust collection quite acceptable. This removable ½” plywood gadget is one of my favorite part of this whole workstation. It’s made from a single piece of scrap.

First I thought I make this table with insert plates but eventually I chose the fixed design with a folding ¾” MDF top. It has zero clearance by design which means I don’t tilt it. I wouldn’t do that. I would rather put a miter jig on my sled. It has two slots for the sled so I decided to reinforce the top with two sticks of wood avoiding breaking the top (at the notches) when folding up those 50 pounds. These sticks, legs, rails and stiles are Scots pine, knot free even though it comes in 17’ long 8-12” wide slabs (from Siberia). Its scent is even more pleasant than its look. The surfaced size of the legs, rails and stiles is 2×4”. That’s why it is rock solid and weighs about 300 pounds. My workbench is ultra lightweight compared to this. Especially when the drawers are in and fully loaded with power tools, accessories, metal parts for jigs, finishing stuff and so on; then its weight doubles. So when I want to clamp down something big, I fold up the top and I clamp the work piece to the frame.

Table saw sled
This is the most appropriate name for it because I use it for rip cuts just as much as for cross cuts. This has two reasons. First, I buy my lumber rough sawn (but well seasoned) so when I don’t want to use live edges I have to rip off the edges. Second, I haven’t built in a riving knife so when I want to rip a board to make sticks which are less than 3” wide then I avoid using the fence. It is much safer to do it clamped down on the sled. The clamps are designed so that they can flex enough to keep the work piece clamped even when a cupped rough sawn board collapses during a rip cut. The base plate is pretty thick being ¾” MDF but usually I don’t miss the lost cutting capacity. The handle and the clamps (photo 4) are steamed black locust. The metal plates of the clamps come from a really versatile commercial half blind dovetail jig… (Grin)

Three purpose fence
Like the sled this also has two main uses but I use it much more for routing than for rip cuts (no riving knife, remember). I recently added a third function to it. It’s made of ¾” MDF, it’s also heavy. Dust hood is built in. It’s held down by hex screws.

Router table
Unlike for a saw, I happily paid three times more for the biggest fanciest Bosch router on the market because I knew I would use it a lot. (Well, mostly because I love wide boards and big slabs and their surfacing requires some power and stamina as well – imagine surfacing a hundred bf of black locust…) Praising this router is not the point of this post but I have to mention that this router is MEANT to be built in a router table. And its features make its use really convenient. For example setting the depth of cut, turning off the spring (which is not even mentioned in the manual although it has a dedicated button) are the most important for me. (I think I should post a review about this router soon.)

Great capacity
The drawers are the soul of this workstation. When I completed them I had to reorganize the workshop because they swallowed all my tools and accessories of all kinds. It was such a relief that I don’t have to run three rounds in the shop to find a hex wrench or a try square, etc. It was worth every invested second. Even if I count the days in the hospital… but that’s another story.
The drawers are some kind of an experiment, too. They’re held together by friction – the dovetails are so tight that I had to hammer them in each other. The front and sides are spruce and the bottom is plywood, what else. :) I’m going to miss its simplicity in our home furniture but principles are principles. :) The other aspect of the experiment is the drawer slides. It uses the fact that jointed black locust surfaces slides on each other surprisingly smoothly. (Sanded surfaces behave completely otherwise even when sanded to zillion grit.)

Bit rack
Some people are anxious to get a new plane, some people are mad about router bits. As you can guess the latter applies much more for me. I have a good basic set of router bits but I think I need another dozen… (My problem comes partly from the fact that only my big router can accept 12 mm shank bit and I rather keep that tool in the table. So it looks I’m going to collect routers instead… LOL) I was harsh to myself when I designed this bit rack – I made only four spare holes… By the way making these holes was a bit tricky. I had thought it would be much easier but when I made a hole with a 12 mm drill bit, I could hardly squeeze the router bit in to the slot. So I put a 12mm router bit in the drill press to widen the holes by about 0.1 mm. The size became perfect – the shank slips in to the slot with no effort. I did the same with the holes for 8 mm shank bits.


Dust collection
Since this table has two power tools making tons of dust I had to come up with some gadget which can integrate their dust flows and I can switch from one to another source of dust. Plywood Goddess provided the solution again. Full solution, no restrictions. She’s too kind to me even though she knows I won’t let her in to our home…
Two flows from above and two directly from the power tools can be combined in the rear box on this workstation. A blast gate switches the suction from the router (with the fence) to the saw. The adjustable overarm dust hood for the table saw is not done yet.

Electric puzzle

Well, having two basically hand held power tools built in a table requires some order in their electric supply – especially if you want to control the dust collector at the same time and to integrate some plugholes.
I can switch on the plugholes separately from the rest. The rest can also be switched on separately – I can switch on the DC alone (when it’s needed to the jointer/planer) or if I want to switch on the saw or the router, the DC switches on at the same time. It might look and sound difficult but the switches are configured so logically that I didn’t need any label on them.

This workstation works as a workshop and behaves like that in a sense that it is never completed. I think I’ll add casters, foldaway extension(s) as well. And there is enough space for another two big drawers in the middle. Shall I go on? :)

Thanks for reading along,

—- EDIT:
Here are some of my projects made with this workstation:
Click for details

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-- What are those few hours of mine compared to those decades Mother Nature has put in it!

37 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118153 posts in 4545 days

#1 posted 01-26-2013 12:13 AM

Great idea and a fine build.


View Hawaiilad's profile


3375 posts in 3989 days

#2 posted 01-26-2013 01:44 AM

Looks like you put allot of thought into this build..

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View Lumberpunk's profile


334 posts in 3305 days

#3 posted 01-26-2013 02:13 AM

super sweet

-- If someone tells you you have enough tools and don't need any more, stop talking to them, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

View getlostinwood's profile


224 posts in 3570 days

#4 posted 01-26-2013 02:25 AM

This looks like somthing missionaries could assemble in other countries whils building homes. A very well thought out design

-- The basis for optimism is shear terror

View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4656 days

#5 posted 01-26-2013 02:51 AM

Incredible design ! You should be proud of this project !!
That endgrain cut is amazing : ) What is the model number of the saw blade , please ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Dave Dufour's profile

Dave Dufour

275 posts in 2946 days

#6 posted 01-26-2013 05:36 AM

very good, great ideas

-- Dave, from Canada,

View jeff's profile


1284 posts in 4433 days

#7 posted 01-26-2013 08:33 AM

wow,nice design and build…

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View Ivan's profile


16518 posts in 3835 days

#8 posted 01-26-2013 09:03 AM

Wonderfull, it has everything it needs to be. Injoy your work!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted



197 posts in 3302 days

#9 posted 01-26-2013 10:22 AM

AWESOME DESIGN & BUILT. So much, in so little space. I need to do this one of these days, I would definitely, be inspired by many of your ideas. Thanks for sharing.


View Chris Murphy's profile

Chris Murphy

14 posts in 3350 days

#10 posted 01-26-2013 12:16 PM

that is a great piece of work, well thought out.

-- "it is better to live one day as a lion than a thousand as a sheep"

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 3328 days

#11 posted 01-26-2013 03:16 PM

When I first saw the little saw blade sticking up through the top I thought “no way in hell! You wouldn’t catch me anywhere near that damn thing!” Then I read through your post (glad I did) and now I’m extremely jealous.

This is an extremely well designed, well built piece of equipment! It looks safer, more accurate and more well constructed than most of the “high end” equipment I see that does the same job.

-- Steve

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1980 posts in 2937 days

#12 posted 01-26-2013 03:26 PM

Incredible design. I’m in awe of it

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View sras's profile


5755 posts in 4097 days

#13 posted 01-26-2013 04:52 PM

Congratulations on making the most of a small space. Your bench is an impressive bit of engineering and should serve you well for a very long time.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3798 days

#14 posted 01-26-2013 04:52 PM

Very creative. Nice design work and execution.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8964 posts in 3545 days

#15 posted 01-26-2013 05:07 PM

Impressive Johnny, thanks for posting.

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