Ode To Small Shops #2: A Shop With An Identity Crisis

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Blog entry by slooper posted 12-06-2008 10:15 AM 984 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: From Garage to Patio to Deck, My Small Shop Finally Has A Home Part 2 of Ode To Small Shops series no next part

Most shops fall into two categories: 1) you cram it in wherever it fits, be it a basement, a garage or the back of a truck or 2) You custom build it so that it is large enough for all the tools and storage you need. Mine is a hybrid: I built it, or rather had it built small enough to cram my whole shop into it. So why, when I had an opportunity to build, why did I build small. You might guess $, which is true, but only half the story. The other half is that it has to be small and portable.

At present, I live in an RV in a trailer park. Once we buy some land, I’ll be able to put it up on dollies and haul it to its permanent location. Furthermore, it and my RV have to fit in the same space as a regular mobile home. My RV is 34’ and my building, parked right behind it, is 24’. If you’re wondering, yes, we get a lot of strange looks.

Aside from being small, this shop has another problem: identity crisis. First, since I am a work-from-home computer programmer, I needed an office. So a corner of my 12’x24’ building is an 8’x8’ office. Second, living in an RV, with its tiny fridge and freezer, requires that I keep a chest freezer and small fridge in it. (This has turned into a kitchenette minus the water) Third, we need a place to keep our small library somewhere out of the way, yet accessible. Fourth, it has to serve as a storage of sorts for those things that need the climate controlled environment but don’t fit anywhere in the RV. Fifth, it has to serve as a small greenhouse; storing my garden tools and using the window area for seedlings. Last, it also has to serve as an office until my real office is ready for use.

I have to say that this has been a design challenge, and a lot of shuffling around in the mean time. Effectively, I have a 12’x17’ area that I share with the not so small library. In it I have squeezed in a Ridgid table saw, jointer, planer and oscilating combination spindle/belt sander, Ryobi benchtop drill press and band saw, Craftsman compound miter saw, router table, three moduler 2’x2’ tables on wheels and a tool chest. Amazingly, despite the crowded area, I can still rip a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood end-to-end and joint long boards. The project to make the library accessible yet out-of-the-way is in the works. See plan here

Hopefully, someday my workshop will have it’s own identity. Until then, it’s a bit schizophrenic.

3 comments so far

View lew's profile


13353 posts in 4830 days

#1 posted 12-06-2008 04:40 PM

Nothing wrong with a small shop- you don’t have to walk very far to get to the next tool!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 4788 days

#2 posted 12-06-2008 06:38 PM

Don’t forget that books don’t like dust and yes your shop is brobably a bit schiz. and prob paranoid as well worrying about what your going to cram in next.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View slooper's profile


37 posts in 4553 days

#3 posted 12-06-2008 06:46 PM


Yup, my wife keeps reminding me about that as she doesn’t want my dust ruining her precious books. So the plan includes putting them inside cabinets which I will attempt to seal with some kind of makeshift gasket as it closes. I was thinking of using a thin weatherstripping around the perimeter. For the upper bookshelves, I was thinking of some kind of cover with Velcro. We’ll see. I might come up with something better.

BTW: Have you seen the videos online with the talking cats & dogs? Hillarious. My wife can’t get enough of ‘em :)

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