I built my idea of the perfect
woodworking shop behind our
house in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina. The building’s post and
beam structure is reminiscent of the
barns I grew up with in Western
Michigan. Raised in a five-generation
dairy farming family, I really wanted my shop to feel like an old barn inside.
My shop stands above a two-car garage and has two levels. The main floor measures 23-ft. by 25-ft. One
half of this space is open to the rafters; a beamed ceiling creates a lumber-storage loft over the other half.
Bringing boards down from the loft is easy, thanks to the laws of gravity. Getting boards up there in the first
place, however, is a quite different story!
Double 4-ft.-wide doors provide access to the center of the shop’s main level. Post and beam construction
provides an open floor that allows excellent work flow. Most of my tools are on mobile bases, so they can be
easily moved when the need arises. My table saw and planer are oriented so I can process really long boards
by opening the doors. Against the wall to the left are my two radial arm saws, which share a common 8-ft.-long
table and mobile base. One saw is dedicated to crosscutting; the other is equipped with a dado set for joinery.
My workbench is located on the opposite wall, below
a window that provides excellent working light as well as
summer breezes. A smaller mobile bench serves as my
assembly table. It has drawers on one end and shelves
on the other for my portable power tools.
The shop has its own meter and 200-amp service.
Each major tool is on a separate circuit. Outlets for
portable tools are located waist-high all around the
walls, as well as on the two support posts. I have grand
plans to install a cyclone collector in the garage
below and run permanent ductwork to each tool
through the floor. Due to current budget restraints,
however, I have to move a portable dust collector to
My shop has proven to be a great workspace; the
only change I’d consider would be to make it bigger!
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker July 2008, issue #136.
July 2008, issue #136
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