Shop Changes

Big changes coming to the workshop this spring!

The Problem

My workshop is about 2½ years old at this point, and I’ve come to a crossroads. I spend less and less time there, and I haven’t been working on the projects I aspire to. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of plywood stuff (cabinets and shop furniture) and not as much aspirational home furniture.

I’ve thought a lot about why my engagement has flagged…

No workbench. The 4’⨉8’ modified Paulk workbench I built as one of the very first things in the shop has served me well, but it’s difficult to use it to build fine furniture. It has too much bounce to chisel well, it doesn’t have good vise options to hold work pieces and it moves too much to hand-plane pieces on it. It’s also too big relevant to size of my shop—in a 20’⨉40’ shop it would be a great assembly table with lots of room to work. As the the sole working surface in a small shop, however, it doesn’t suit my needs.

Bad flow. When you don’t want to use your jointer, planer, or bandsaw because it’s such a pain in the ass to move them into a position where you could use them you know your shop has bad flow. Related to the above point, when you can’t rearrange things for better flow because your giant assembly table dominates the available space then something has to change.

I could list other reasons, but they’ll really just relate back to the above two.

The Plan

My ridiculously circuitous plan has five steps:

  1. Move router table from paulk assembly table to its own housing. In order to try and reclaim space last summer I modified the paulk assembly table to include a router lift. It worked ok, but I had no dust collection options and it was hard to swap it back and forth when I wanted to go from router table to assembly table functions. The plan is to move the router lift to another smaller 2’⨉4’ work table I made a long time ago.
  2. Build simple hand tool workbench. I’ve purchased some southern yellow pine to use to build a simple hand tool workbench. My goal is to add at least two vises (if not three) to this workbench to give me maximum ability to hold workpieces.
  3. Break down paulk workbench and reclaim usable lumber and components. The next step to take apart the large paulk assembly table and salvage as much lumber and hardware as I can. I can reclaim drawer slides, casters and some nontrivial cuts of lumber. This will free up a large amount of floor space in the shop.
  4. Build small outfeed table. Using the recovered materials from the large assembly table the plan is to build a much smaller outfeed table to sit near the table saw. I’m thinking I’ll pattern it after the shop cabinets I made but on casters so I can maximize the drawer space.
  5. Junk all excess crap. Once all this is done I’m going to order a dumpster to be placed in the driveway so I can junk all the excess stuff in the shop, including old materials that are getting in the way, as well as the other small work table I built way back at the beginning.

Once all this is done I should have more discrete work surfaces available, with better vise options and more ability to move things around and free up space. I do have dreams of acquiring a small lathe and a drum sander, which would never fit in the current layout but may fit once I clear away the footprint of the big assembly table.

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