A Quick Tour of my Not-so-great Workshop
Visitors to my shop are always surprised how small my shop is – 15’ x 25’ – and that I share it with the house’s furnace (it’s a friendly relationship, I promise, with good dust collection).
At the request of a reader, here are some photos of my shop and some details of why things are the way they are. Before I dive into this explanation, keep in mind that while I prefer to use hand tools whenever possible, I feed my family with my furniture. So I do own machines that help me process rough stock. If this offends you, feel free to send us a turkey each week and I’ll consider getting rid of my jointer.
The most important area of my shop is my workbench. It’s 18” deep, 8’ long and is under a window that faces north. I love northern light because you never get harsh shadows or weird color changes on the bench. The position allows me to work early in the morning until sundown with natural light doing most of the work.
To the left of my bench is an old bourbon barrel that is my trash can. I usually can simply push shavings off the bench and into the barrel without a broom or brush. This saves lots of time.
I also have my nail cabinet above the bench, which holds all the common fasteners I use. To the left of the trash can is my tool chest and a wall rack for my saws. If I worked with hand tools only, this would be the end of the shop tour. You really don’t need much space to work by hand.
On the east wall of my shop is my jointer and table saw. And the wood rack is above both these machines. I have everything positioned so I have about 6’ of infeed and outfeed on both of these machines. I can move the table saw if I need to rip 8’ stuff, though I almost never do.
The little cart is one of my most useful pieces of shop furniture. It’s an outfeed table for the saw and holds all my shop supplies. I can roll it around to catch any sort of stock coming off the saw.
On the south wall of the shop is a 14” band saw on a mobile base and a second workbench that I use for sharpening, turning and holding stock when I bring it off my truck. Below the bench are my leatherworking and chairmaking tools in a metal tool chest.
Tucked into the corner created by the furnace is a metal office cabinet I bought at a second-hand office supply store for $70. It holds my glue, wax, assorted tool parts, manuals and all the stuff I’m not sure what to do with. I try to clean it out every few months.
The west wall of the shop has my portable planer and drill press. These are both on mobile bases so I can shift them around as needed.
As I think you can see, my machinery is pretty humble (except for the Northfield jointer). And I have more than enough room to build anything.
I’ve worked in larger shops and usually find them frustrating because I feel like I’m walking around more than building.
— Christopher Schwarz