What is the most irritating aspect of working in your shop?

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Blog entry by stefang posted 11-06-2009 12:32 PM 2764 reads 1 time favorited 73 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Some questions like Jim’s recent one about the need for plans and the ensuing discussion gave a lot of insight into how different folks approach the subject. With every workshop being unique to it’s owner, I thought it might be interesting to discuss and maybe get a new perspective on the problems we encounter in the shop on a daily basis, and see if there is any commonality.

One thing I have found is, that while one person may be struggling with a certain problem in the shop, others might have a different approach which is better.

I know a lot of people think their shops are too small and they probably don’t like to clean them up and put everything in it’s proper place. These of course are legitimate complaints, but I wonder if there are other problems and if there are good solutions to them.

My own shop problems

I actually have more than enough space for the small projects I am now doing. One big problem I have is all the cut-offs that seem to multiply exponentially even when I’m doing something small. I have a big scrap box, but no matter how often I empty it, it always seems full. A lot of the scraps could be useful, but when I need them they are usually at the bottom of the pile and I can’t get at them. This may not seem like a big problem, but I find it extremely irritating and I haven’t yet found a good solution. No matter how I stack them the cut-off always wind up in a mess.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

73 comments so far

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1588 posts in 4046 days

#1 posted 11-06-2009 01:33 PM

Cutoffs…..we all have them, I end up burning them. I struggle with chips from the planer in my basement shop without a DC.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Indiana_Parrothead's profile


110 posts in 3637 days

#2 posted 11-06-2009 01:45 PM

I don’t have near enough space when working on larger projects. No room to do the assembly properly and store the piece are I am milling pieces. Also no room to finish pieces when I spray them.

Another thing that I struggle wiht is room to do glue-ups. Once I have stuff in the clamps I can’t do much more because I put plastic over my table saw and outfeed table to do the glue ups.

-- We are the people our parents warned us about.

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3716 days

#3 posted 11-06-2009 02:21 PM

1) It’s my garage
2) Not enough circuits. There is 1 220 outlet, so hopefully if/when I get a decent dust collector I’ll be able to use that without needing a new line. The downside is it’s on a far wall from where I currently have my tools, so I don’t think I could roll the DC around much. I’d probably have to get one of those long flex hoses from Rockler in order to move the DC from tool to tool.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View toyguy's profile


1694 posts in 4319 days

#4 posted 11-06-2009 02:23 PM

I hear ya on the subject of “cut offs”. Like you I throw them in a bin, until needed…then the bin gets dumped out on the floor to select just the right ones…then back into the bin.. There must be an easier way.

However, for me the big problem of late: since taking up turning, what to do with the shavings. After turning a mid to large bowl, the floor is covered. I don’t have a fire place, so I just sweep them up and bag them for the garbage. I guess some could be used in the garden, and compost heap, but man there is a lot of shavings !!!! But on the other hand; “a blind man would be glad to see them….”

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View john's profile


2380 posts in 4863 days

#5 posted 11-06-2009 02:24 PM

Not enough space ! 10,000 sq ft would work for me ! :)

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3677 days

#6 posted 11-06-2009 02:36 PM

Now that I’ve installed more outlets and circuits in the garage, my biggest complaint is having a fold away shop. I just want to get in and start working, but first I have to move the cars out of the garage and set up the tools when I want to work. I wish I had a dedicated shop. Also, the noise in such a small area can be a little much, even with ear protection but I’m working on ways to dampen the noise.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3767 days

#7 posted 11-06-2009 02:47 PM

John, 10,000 sq.ft.? I thought that was the size of your last bird house. lol. “cut offs”!. I have the same problem. I do try to keep my small cut offs of exotic and figured pieces in a seperate place. The rest I collect for a while and then usually end up either giving a bunch away or throwing away. I have a friend that is in the furniture restoration business and I give him a lot of cutt offs for his repair work etc.

-- John @

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3672 days

#8 posted 11-06-2009 04:45 PM

For all of you LJ’s with to many shavings, buy your grandchild or son or daughter a geinuie (sp?) pig. They poop like crazy. You’ll have to plane 30 board feet a week to keep up with the little critters. I think that equalls about 4 large bowls for you turning guys lol


-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View gbvinc's profile


629 posts in 4428 days

#9 posted 11-06-2009 04:50 PM

Space & cut-offs.

Two years ago, I moved into a smaller shop…about 1/3 of the size of my previous shop. It has worked OK, as long as I am working on one or two smaller projects, but I seem to be getting an increasingly steady stream of custom projects and am flat finding it hard to make enough space to keep things organized. As a result I am starting a sketchup for next summer’s adventure… a bigger shop out in the pasture.

I can at least plan…maybe the budget will allow it. :-)

View ROY53's profile


77 posts in 3659 days

#10 posted 11-06-2009 04:56 PM

I use a different bucket for each variety for my cutoffs. It’s still hard to find what you need but at least you’re looking in the right zip code.

-- Roy L, Arizona

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3655 days

#11 posted 11-06-2009 04:59 PM

I’m with Jimi_C, partly.

When we built our house, I was warned to make sure to get LOTS of electric in the garage.

I did. Tons of it.

Of course, my shop is in my unfinished basement, where there’s only ONE outlet (D’OH!).

My fluorescent fixtures run OFF OF adaptors screwed into the incandescent overhead fixtures, and EVERYTHING ELSE runs off of a web of power strips hooked into a single outlet. I only run one machine at a time, so I’ve never tripped a breaker, but ….

Now, I’m going to try to add in my HF DC and my Grizzly bandsaw???

Ohhhhhh boy, do I need some electrical.

The rest? So far … I can deal….

Good question, Mike!

-- -- Neil

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 4008 days

#12 posted 11-06-2009 05:02 PM

For cut offs try a tall cubicle cabinet (12” sqr’s) that is as wide as you have room for. With all those little cubes/stacked boxes you can sort by kind or size of wood and it works great and looks great.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4267 posts in 3646 days

#13 posted 11-06-2009 05:56 PM

In my book you get an A+ for a great solution to my main complaint, cutoffs. Now if only I had the wall space. Gonna tear down an old built in bench and put my little power tools on mobile bases and multiuse cabinets. Then I might have the space. Or get rid of that cabinet of useless books…........20 years old, almost all unusable.

Great question Mike.

I fear there is an electrician soon to appear in your life…...........
You might price out a subpanel installed, it might not be as bad as you think. I notice a lot of walls that are plain concrete. With some studs you would have a lot of places for wiring.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3655 days

#14 posted 11-06-2009 06:01 PM

Jim: Couldn’t agree more.

Already have his name, and am trying to schedule something with him.

While I studied Electrical Engineering back in school … I never used it. I try to avoid electrical and plumbing, when I can ;-)

-- -- Neil

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4367 days

#15 posted 11-06-2009 06:12 PM

My shop, 2-car garage is about 500sq. feet, one wall is basically the garage door plus there are 2 entrance doors and an upright freezer, I need more wall space and of course a bigger shop. I was led to believe that our lot was bigger than it turned out to be when we purchased the house and was planning a new 25’x35’ but alas no room for it. I store my wood on shelves on one wall so that takes care of that. MORE WALLS and MORE ROOM.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

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