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Blog entry by stefang posted 09-07-2013 04:00 PM 4944 reads 0 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of SHOP IMPROVEMENTS series Part 2: THE BENCH BASE GLUED UP »

After I bought my new big bandsaw a couple of years ago I found that my shop was too crowded and not functioning the way it should. There was no place to assemble larger projects and I had no workplace for my new interest in marquetry work or storage for all the related tools and veneers.

My shop is so small that my options are pretty limited with regard to the placement of my machines, benches, etc. It seemed a hopeless task to figure out a better set-up, but I finally did a couple of simple moves that worked out to be major improvements with regard to comfortable and efficient working conditions.

I moved my big bandsaw to a new location and I moved the large tool cabinet hung over my planing bench away. I then made a plane till and I mounted all my chisels, files, carving tools, screw drivers, etc. on the wall behind my bench. Most of my bench tools are still readily available, but I am no longer knocking my head into the tool cabinet doors and my hand planes are all within easy reach.

Improvement work to date
The next two photos show the new plane till and the tool holders on the wall behind my bench. The bench is pretty messy due to the rearranging. I’ve since cleaned that up and fixed the electric cords better.

My new bench
I am also building a new bench which will be in the back part of my ‘L’ shaped shop. This bench will be used mainly for marquetry assembly work and to store all my marquetry veneers and equipment, plus I will keep my light table on the far end.

The bench is built with two openings in the front. One to house an unused chest of drawers I have on hand for storing veneers and related marquetry equipment/tools. The other as a kind of desk where I can sit to assemble marquetry and do other detail work. It will also be used for assembling and gluing larger projects and it will even be heavy enough to use it as a planing bench if I wish.

The base is all 2X4 mortise and tenon construction with the bridle joints to hold the top rails. The top will be 2-3/4” thick Spruce glued up from 2X3s. The mortises were drilled out with a forstner bit and shave to final size with a chisel. The tenon shoulders were cut on the table saw and the cheeks were cut a little oversized on the bandsaw and then shave with a chisel to a good fit. Here is a photo of progress to date. The base is ready for glue-up on Monday, and then I will start on the top. I plan to glue 4 boards at a time for the top just to keep the work manageable in my small shop. It will probably take all week for that job if I want to leave each glue up to dry overnight. Here is a photo of progress to date. Please note the kind of space I have for large projects of this kind. I hope this new bench will cure that problem!

The reason I chose a bridle joint construction for the top rails was so that I could extend the end of the table quite a bit further than the legs. This is because I have a lumber storage rack on the wall which the table will hang over. The rails aren’t cut to final length yet.

Further refurbishing
I plan to to improve my storage solutions and also to paint my cabinets to get a cohesive look into the shop and also just to freshen it up a bit to make a more pleasant working environment. I will post more in this series as I progress. I hope it will give others with small or awkwardly shaped shops some inspiration. I am also open to any ideas that you may have. Thanks for reading!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

37 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118253 posts in 4820 days

#1 posted 09-07-2013 04:10 PM

Very nice improvements Mike .We have to make these kind of improvements from time to time when we keep acquiring more tools and equipment . Keep up the good work your shops looking good.


View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4584 days

#2 posted 09-07-2013 04:25 PM

it is plane to see
that somethings are hanging by a tread (or cord)

but you seem to be getting it worked out too

re-arranging and some fresh paint
will improve the feel of the shop
and maybe even keep your head
from banging into things

best to leave the head banging
up to the wife

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View shipwright's profile


8751 posts in 4040 days

#3 posted 09-07-2013 04:26 PM

Good start Mike.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26784 posts in 4348 days

#4 posted 09-07-2013 05:47 PM

I love it, Mike. That sure is a nice cabinet for your planes and that table is coming along nice too

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4577 days

#5 posted 09-07-2013 06:59 PM

Thanks Jim David, Paul and Jim for your kind comments. Man I am really amazed at how much lumber is needed to make the bench top. I picked it up today and it was quite a load. I have glued up the leg sections, now I have rip the table supports down to the top of the legs and glue those and the two stretchers that connect the legs in the back. It will be interesting to see if the base is stiff enough without stretchers on the front and only the table supports on the top to stiffen it off. I do have a somewhat fuzzy contingent plan for that eventuality.

BTW I forgot to mention that the plane till design was by Chris Gochnour for FWW mag. The main difference was that I used box joints at the corners instead rebates like he did. Not better, just more pleasing to me.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


13341 posts in 4332 days

#6 posted 09-07-2013 09:08 PM

What a wonderful plane till, I love it Mike.
You have such a fine sense for the details.
Also I love the order on the wall, everything just where it is needed.
When my shop is up again I will try and do some order in my chisels.
Best thoughts my friend,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4577 days

#7 posted 09-07-2013 10:04 PM

Thanks Mads. Good to hear from you. I hope you will be posting regularly again soon so we can enjoy some of the cool stuff you make.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


13341 posts in 4332 days

#8 posted 09-07-2013 10:27 PM

I posted two blogs today. ;-)

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 5072 days

#9 posted 09-07-2013 11:12 PM

Great progress on solving your tight space situation. I really like your plane till Mike and it looks like the new bench is going to be great.

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26784 posts in 4348 days

#10 posted 09-07-2013 11:20 PM

Mike I just took a second look at the shop and you don’t want to build a boat down there!. You have made fine economic use of the space. will that bench go against the wall to the right when completed?

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4577 days

#11 posted 09-07-2013 11:42 PM

Thanks Mathew and Jim. The bench will be placed around the corner in the back of the shop. You can see how the shop space is in my workshop photos on my home page. I will have to take some new shop pictures after completion my improvements with a Sketchup picture of my shop layout. Meanwhile I will showing each little improvement project as I go with before and after pics.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1628 posts in 4808 days

#12 posted 09-08-2013 12:31 AM

I like the plane till along with all the chisel holders, nice additions Mike. The bench build looks like its coming along. Are you going to make any cabinets under the bench or leave it open?

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

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 5029 days

#13 posted 09-08-2013 01:29 AM

Stehang, These are some great refinements to your work space. I need to copy some of your ideas myself. I now have to move and clean before I start something new. It always seems that the small hand tools are in the way. You have found a good solution for that.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 3909 days

#14 posted 09-08-2013 02:19 AM

Hi Mike
Looks like you have been busy arranging your shop and it going to be good to be that well organized .
My shop is just half of the garage and everything is along one wall but my table saw is in the process of being expanded with a attached router table and all on a big platform on casters .
Still don’t have a bench but got two vises ,that is a start .
Well winter is coming and that will give you more time in the shop and enjoy the new bench etc. .
Stay well and take care .

-- Kiefer

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile (online now)


22395 posts in 4918 days

#15 posted 09-08-2013 03:57 AM

Lookin’ good Mike. That is what I need to do as soon as I get all my electrical business stuff out of there ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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