Fast forward two and a half years since the start of shop #2. My wife finished college and my online business was at a sustainable point for me to leave my day job which lead us to house shopping. We ended up getting our first house together on July 2nd 2014. The house we found fit literally every one of our criteria including the most important for me which was a two car garage. With an empty garage to start my current shop I gave the walls a fresh coat of white paint and ran new electrical wires for the shop inside a long box along the bottom of the left and rear walls.
No doubt many of us would love to have a huge, 2000 square foot building devoted to woodcraft, on a wooded acreage somewhere. But there is a reality that goes with a hobby shared by numerous ordinary people: very few really have the means to set up such palatial workshops. We have our lives to lead, and engaging in such a venture is out of the reach for most, myself included. This article is dedicated to workshops for "the rest of us."
Working on wood based on wood plans is great fun. However, many times, the enthusiastic beginner is faced with so-called woodworker-block. On what to work, exactly? Indeed, it can be quite difficult to start a project without the proper guideline. We scoured the web in search of good websites that offer free woodworking plans for beginners. They are excellent guidelines to help you work on a project from start to finish.
Directly behind my table saw is my 4′ x 8′ modified Paulk workbench that I consider my assembly table as well as an outfeed table. Here’s a shot of the back side of it. I currently have a bunch of 2×10 material on it for an upcoming project and really didn’t want to unload it just for the picture. You can see completed pictures of the project with all of my modifications and changes here.
Their plans are delivered in a PDF format as part of a vlog series. They have regular episodes in the form of “seasons” and “episodes”. Your head will spin with the sheer number of “episodes” on the website. At the time of writing, it is at season 9, episode 933. A small caveat, though, is that you have to subscribe to their newsletter to download the free plans. No biggie. It’s just something to keep in mind.
In my machine shop, I store my thickness planer under the infeed table of my jointer. The feed direction of the planer is one direction and the jointer the other. This works especially well because I can joint all my boards and stack them on a cart or sawhorses; then, without reorienting them, I can feed them through the planer (after I pull it out, of course).
It’s been a solid year since moving into this house and starting my shop. Nearly everything in my shop is on casters for mobility. In my opinion the most important tool in any woodshop is the table saw so lets start there. My table saw is a SawStop PCS with 52” rip capacity. The attention to detail on this machine is phenomenal. I have the industrial mobile base for it which makes the single heaviest item in my shop one of the easiest to move. The base lifts the entire saw, including the extension wing, several inches with ease. It is actually in the up position in the following image. I also spray painted the location of the extension wing supports on the ground so I can easily locate a familiar position when setting up the saw. Because moving it around the shop on the mobile base is effortless I find myself moving it out of the way frequently when I know I’m not going to be using it for a while. I also keep a couple trash cans near the table saw.
Right in front of my finishing supply rack is my welder and welder cabinet. It’s a Hobart Handler 140 mig or flux core wire feed welder. I learned how to weld several years ago on an old manual adjustment arc welder and I very much like the convenience of the wire feed in this one. It’s sitting on a Harbor Freight welding cabinet. I have only used it in one video so far (metal vise build) but have used it a few times since then on stuff around the house. Having a welder isn’t a necessity but it is very convenient at times.
Begin by cutting off a 10-in. length of the board and setting it aside. Rip the remaining 38-in. board to 6 in. wide and cut five evenly spaced saw kerfs 5/8 in. deep along one face. Crosscut the slotted board into four 9-in. pieces and glue them into a block, being careful not to slop glue into the saw kerfs (you can clean them out with a knife before the glue dries). Saw a 15-degree angle on one end and screw the plywood piece under the angled end of the block.
If you bought this superb polished table in a store, it would cost you a fortune, but our detailed instructions will help you make one for less than $100. And it looks like highly polished stone, but no-one would know it’s actually made from concrete with a wooden base. Also, you can embellish the top with leaf prints, like the table shown here, or personalize it with glass or mosaic tiles or imprints of seashells.
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.
Woodworkers are a social bunch, and there are a few popular forums where people share thoughts on tools, discuss technique at length, and—of course—upload their plans. Some of the most active online woodworking communities include Lumberjocks, Woodworking Talk, Wood Magazine, WoodNet, Kreg, and Sawmill Creek. Search those to see if they have what you’re looking for (either with their built-in search tool or with Google’s site-specific search, e.g. site:lumberjocks.com side table).