My first woodworking “shop” was in the living room and kitchen of a run-down house trailer (2008-ish). Nothing pretty at all but it was functional. At that time I was living on my own with a job paying just over minimum wage. The engine in my truck blew a head gasket and the only option for me to rebuild the engine without going into debt was to sell off my woodshop. I sold everything but my miter saw. It was a hard lesson learned on being prepared with an emergency fund and I’ll never put myself in that kind of situation again.
I am sharing here a link to the detailed tutorial written by Pete at diypete.com, who shares the step by step process for making a wonderful barrel coffee table from scratch. He also tells you what items you’ll need for this project and where to find them. For example, you can buy an old whiskey barrel online or from a local whiskey store for a few bucks, if you haven’t already got one.
This is not a guide to shop layout. That may, in fact come later, depending on how much time I devote to this web site. These are important issues that you must consider as you design your shop. My shop is in my garage. Even as we were picking out house designs I knew it would be in my garage. That means that there isn’t a time since we decided to build that I haven’t been considering these issues, and planning and changing plans. That is the nature of it. I knew what I would settle for as a minimum, and made sure it was expendable enough to ensure I could change my mind if I needed or wanted.
Have you got an old whiskey barrel at home that you haven’t used for ages? If yes, this project is for you. You can make a really beautiful coffee table from that old whiskey barrel in a few easy steps. Apart from a coffee table, whiskey barrels can also be used to build several other furniture items. But that is a talk for later. Here, we will discuss how to make a coffee table from a whiskey barrel.
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To the left of the cabinet hangs my table saw infeed support arms, my table saw spline jig, multifunction hold down jig, and a dry erase board I made several years ago for my wife. We never put it to use in the house so I put it in my shop. Below that is a rolling mechanics tool box. I store all of my wrenches, sockets, and tools of that nature in it.
My dedicated shop space is about 8′ x 4′, the rest is a one car garage that needs to stay open for my wife’s car. I will sometimes set up some plywood and sawhorses in that space for assembly though. The section that is my dedicated shop has a floor made of 2″x6″ lumber stretched out over joists on top of dirt. It is an old floor filled with knot holes, cracked or broken boards (with temporary plywood screwed over them) and just generally uneven. If I cannot build a shed as my new workshop I will be looking at redoing the floor in my current space. Not sure how I would go about it though.
Drill four 5/8-in.-dia. 1/2-in.-deep holes on the large disc?inside the traced circle?then use 5/8-in. dowel centers to transfer the hole locations to the underside of the small disc. Drill four 1/2-in.-deep holes on the underside of the small disc and a 1/2-in.-deep hole in the center of the top for the dowel handle. Glue in the dowels to join the discs, and glue in the handle. We drilled a wood ball for a handle knob, but a screw-on ceramic knob also provides a comfortable, attractive grip.
So that takes care of the center of my shop. I’ll work my way around the perimeter starting at the right wall and moving left. The first item is my rolling plywood cart. I built this a few weeks ago to replace my unsuccessful stationary plywood rack. It’s an 8′ plywood cart that stores full sheets of plywood on one side and off-cuts on the other side. Because it’s on casters I can easily push it outside next to my truck to load it up and also push the entire cart behind the table saw to reduce the distance I need to carry full sheets to be cut down. It’s the design in issue 205 of Wood Magazine.
The final corner of my shop houses my Grizzly G0703P mobile dust collector. I upgraded to this unit shortly after setting up this shop as my last dust collector was setup to exhaust air outside. The separator I made for it wasn’t efficient enough to modify again for a canister filter for exhausting air inside the shop. I really didn’t want to deal with modifying my dust collector again so I got this. Above the dust collector is my retractable air hose reel that I mentioned earlier. I like having this here as the only times I use compressed air is to fill up the my vehicle tires or to spray a finish which I do outside.
Manufacturers that produce woodworking tools and materials have got into the content creation game, too, and some will share woodworking plans online. Minwax and Ryobi, for example, provides their plans free of charge, and Rockler offers their woodworking plans for a fee. Seek them out along with the other blogs and you’ll have a handy list of resources you can turn to for any project.
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