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Thread: Shop questions

  1. #1
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Shop questions

    I now have access to more room. To decide what to use and where I have a few questions. What are the things you like about your workshop and the things you dislike? What would you change if you could and why? Have you ever thought or discovered a workshop to be too big for your use? Do you prefer to have a couple of dedicated, separate areas, walled off instead of one big room? Thanks!
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    I now have access to more room. To decide what to use and where I have a few questions. What are the things you like about your workshop and the things you dislike? What would you change if you could and why? Have you ever thought or discovered a workshop to be too big for your use? Do you prefer to have a couple of dedicated, separate areas, walled off instead of one big room? Thanks!
    The only reason I would ever consider a shop too big would be if I was constantly heating it or cooling it. I dislike the size of mine, I'd like more room. Everything I have with one or two exceptions is on wheels because it has to be moved now and again. My dust collector is pretty much anchored because the shop is pretty much plumbed. If I was finishing on a constant basis I'd want a separate finishing area. There's actually a Facebook group that is dedicated to small shops that I belong to. There are some great ideas there but for some a single person working in a 10,000 square foot area is a small shop so you kind of have to adjust. Glad to hear you're getting some dedicated space to work in.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  4. #3
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    I know what I would like in it based on what I have and the larger projects I am doing. Maybe I am overthinking it, if I was building someone else's shop I would have already finished but for my own stuff, I am always overthinking it so it can be absolutely perfect and we all know how possible that is! I'll need the working area and will need to move items in and out so like you wheels are a must. I can still manhandle a 350lb machine without wheels by myself but I'll be 56 yet this and it isn't as easy as it was 15 years ago. Also a design area so a nice drafting style desk, old habits die hard, and I have no idea how I will tackle finishing. It is almost all done by hand but I always hate doing it in the shop because of dust. No matter how well your system works dust seems to pop up when you least want it and being on a gravel road in the middle of farmland that is almost always dry doesn't help. MikeEdgerton do you use any of the box air cleaners. I know some of the guys have set up a room with filters so the whole area gets treated not just dust collection at the equipment.

    Sorry guys and gals I thought I had asked this earlier this year or end of last year but I couldn't find the thread. What's happened is my house has a condo built into it for my mom. Sadly it is now to a point where we just can't handle her anymore. Falls a lot and I'm the only one capable of picking up a 180lb person who is just dead weight, the onset of dementia, sundowns badly etc..

    Anyway, I will incorporate this back into my house so things will be moved around. I think the best bet is to take over an area about 17" by 36" in the basement. I can soundproof the ceiling and build appropriate walls to kill the noise and isolate the dust from the rest of the house since that area is unfinished and move what's stored there to a dumpster or into the condo side. I have already blasted some holes in the walls for new passages.

    Hey, that gives me an idea. My wife likes to paint reborn babies. I could make one bedroom a painting hobby room then I would also have a clean space to finish most normal-sized projects as well! She wants the laundry upstairs so maybe I have some leverage to work a deal!

    Sorry to digress, just typing helps me focus and think. I often compose a thread and delete it because I solved my issues in the process. But please any more thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Pictures are even better if you can show how you store jigs and arrange you rbenche4s for your work that would be great thanks!
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  5. #4

    Default Re: Shop questions

    Second the motion - motion. Wheels under everything. Allows compacting the space when things are not in use, ability to handle long lumber when needed, better access for belt changes, etc. My table saw is on an old hospital gurney base with 10” wheels and can roll outside on gravel. The 1880’s monster planer is on pneumatic tires, pushed right up against the wall. Even the ton and a half metal lathe has suitable machinery wheels under in case it ever needs work. Last week at Home Depot, in the moving supplies aisle, I found these 12x18 miniature dollies for $10 each that are perfect for a couple of small and heavy items.
    Not really a woodworking shop, so no permanent dust collection, but I read that if your climate allows, it’s a good idea to put the collector outside, maybe under a little shed roof, both for space and noise. Heating or cooling a big space is an issue, but be careful with insulation with respect to trapping dust and fire resistance.
    The woodworking magazines used to have frequent small-shop layouts as features, so that’s a good resource.
    As I’m noticeably getting older, I want more and better lighting, which is cheaper and easier with LED fixtures and lamps. I found a couple of LED light bars meant for pickup truck use on closeout at the hardware store. Lots of light, mounted on old photo tripods and powered by battery chargers. Using these for work on the cars.
    One other thing I like is soft rubber interlocking mat flooring for any areas I have to stand on. The real industrial ones are expensive, but the ones sold for playrooms work just as well, and are easy to pick up and sweep under.

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    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    One reason for a big shop is it means that you can write off a higher percentage of your utility bills

    That said, my shop is very small and most of the time it's fine. I feel it helps keep me efficient, and it is nice that it's easy to heat and cool. However, I would very much like to have a dedicated finishing space some day. The small shop also means that I don't really have room for non work-related projects. Or, if I do have those projects in the shop it adds to the stress level because I have to begin my Monday by cleaning up any weekend mess.

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  9. #6

    Default Re: Shop questions

    My shop is 16 x 36 and I find it plenty adequate, especially since it also accommodates my bicycle and electric guitar habits as well. Everything in my shop, including the 400lb tablesaw is on mobile bases. It's great to just stomp on the pedal and roll things around for cleanup or more outfeed room. In a basement setup, you won't likely be able to do dust collection overhead, so I'd set up the dust collector in a corner, then you can run hard lines down the walls with a blast gate and flexible hose for each machine. That's what I did. With machinery around the perimeter, most things usable where they are, only the large bandsaw and planer tend to get pulled 3 feet into the center space for use.

    Living in Florida, all my spray finishing is done outdoors under a pop-up so I don't have to worry about wood dust contamination (just gnats!)

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  11. #7
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    If you can afford to maintain good temperature and relative humidity year-round, I don't think a shop can be too big.
    You don't want to have to walk a lot to get from station to station, but that is easy enough to avoid through proper organization.
    My shop is 30' by 40' and my 8' by 8' spray room is the only part partitioned off. I never feel like I have enough space. If all I did was make mandolins in there it would be plenty big, but I build guitars and repair various fretted instruments also, and I also do other wood working projects sometimes. There is also wood storage taking up a large corner. Eventually I hope to have more storage out of the shop (equipment shed) for things that don't need climate control and that will help.

    My Virginia shop that I sold and left behind was 22' by 44', but it was two stories high and had a loft over half of the shop. I had my office up there, a photo set-up, some storage for light things, some wood drying space and so forth. I miss that extra space!

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  13. #8
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    Every section of my house is geo thermal. In the winter months depending on the room, it is between 68 and 74, in the summer pretty much the same but the rooms that are cooler in the summer are warmer in the winter. the basement floats between the same temps but humidity is all over the place. Winter months can be as low as 15-18% and in the summer as high as 54% but that lasts for less than a month. Once I have an area set up I can keep it more consistent, but this is a large house so the whole house humidifier doesn't work. I have tried and wound up with mold around the windows. What a pain to clean and the humidity never got about 40% but condensed around the windows. My smallest projects are engraved panels but the largest is dining room tables. The biggest will be the one I am starting at around 7' long and 50" wide well some larger bar tops are in the future which may be longer and full-size doors. My small dust collector Is on wheels and since I never use more than one machine at a time I roll it to where I need it. It is modded with a 4"dust deputy and Oneida filter. Works exceptionally well for an underpowered unit.

    My wife will be happy since I have that 300bdft of cherry stacked behind our couch in the living room and another 100bdft at 10-12ft long in the middle of the floor in the basement. SO she is thinking hard with me about location.
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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    " I never feel like I have enough space. If all I did was make mandolins in there it would be plenty big, but I build guitars and repair various fretted instruments ..."

    Be glad you are not a double bass builder!

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    " I never feel like I have enough space. If all I did was make mandolins in there it would be plenty big, but I build guitars and repair various fretted instruments ..."

    Be glad you are not a double bass builder!
    That's the reason I don't work on upright bases. I had 2 of them in the shop at the same time several years ago and after I got them returned to their owners I have never let another one enter the shop! They take up too much space when they are in one piece, take one apart and it takes up the whole shop!

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  18. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    ...Be glad you are not a double bass builder!
    My friend Paul Unkert has a shop that he has been running out of his garages (double) for a few years. It's always a shock to walk though the house and see full size basses everywhere because he hasn't got room for them in the shop. Even though I've seen it I never gave it much thought until now.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  19. #12
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    That's the reason I don't work on upright bases. I had 2 of them in the shop at the same time several years ago and after I got them returned to their owners I have never let another one enter the shop! They take up too much space when they are in one piece, take one apart and it takes up the whole shop!
    It takes a certain personality to enjoy upright basses & working on / building them.

    For me....upright bass payers are typically 10 times easier to work with than mandolin players, they always have a pocket full of cash from constant gigs, and on an average year I also make almost ten times as much $$$ compared to mandolin work for the same amount of bench time and I'm considered very affordable compared to the big New England shops that dominate the conversation. Once you get the hang of it, I'd guess that it takes almost the same amount of time for me to make a double bass as it does for a well made F5 mandolin. The size and scale are different, but the actual number of steps is much smaller on basses.

    After having many much larger commercial locations where I was paying a lot of rent $$$ that meant 4+ instruments per year just went to pay rent and utilities, I now have a pretty small place- approx. 440 square feet. Everything is carefully thought out and giant wheels for all of the big machinery. We get approx. 300 days of sunshine here per year, so it is designed with the idea that all of the milling and big noisy dusty work gets done outside on a sunny day. 'Makes dust collection a lot simpler- wait for a windy afternoon...

    As of six months ago, everything runs off the solar panels: crafted by hand in a workshop powered by the sun!

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  21. #13

    Default Re: Shop questions

    To Andrew's point, I used to have a whole house to use as a shop. It was pretty awesome. However, it was difficult to heat and cool, but the real problem was that I got SUPER lazy about keeping things organized. I now have a ~500 sq foot shop, and it is large enough without me going too far off the rails.

    Best things about my current shop

    1. location (at home is awesome! love the commute)
    2. roll-up door allows rolling in any kind of equipment easily, and you can use a leaf blower to blast out dust from time to time.
    3. size
    4. lots of power, at least 4 15A circuits + 220v, or 6 + 220v if running CNC.

    BTW, how productive Andrew is in his shop is very impressive.

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  23. #14
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    A leaf blower for sawdust control is brilliant!

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    A leaf blower for sawdust control is brilliant!
    My wife made me stop doing this a few years ago when we had the driveway replaced. She is the self appointed driveway cleaner
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  25. #16

    Default Re: Shop questions

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    A leaf blower for sawdust control is brilliant!
    Same here, also large ground level entry . I start at the end furthest from the door and sweep forward. It’s good for getting at accumulations that you can’t even reach with a shopvac, like behind and underneath stuff. The downside is also raising lots of small dust, so masking up is a strong suggestion. In metal shops it’s difficult to keep people from using the compressed air lines to clear the equipment; I tried for years. That, and mandatory safety glasses are hard sells. Oddly, nobody ever got an eye injury, and very few cuts from razor-sharp turnings.

  26. #17
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    ...The downside is also raising lots of small dust...
    ...and that settles back down out of the air leaving a coat of dust on everything so there is still cleaning to do after the blower.

  27. #18

    Default Re: Shop questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    ...and that settles back down out of the air leaving a coat of dust on everything so there is still cleaning to do after the blower.
    There's always another layer of dust to clean up, sure, haha. But it gets way back in some nooks and crannies that normally end up getting ignored. Right now my shop is knee-deep in metal chips, though, leaf blower doesn't help as much there. It would be a real mess, but I've been using alcohol mist as coolant, so at least the chips are clean and sweepable.

  28. #19
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shop questions

    Blower wow! I try to get guys in our shops to stop using airlines and and such but I see why they want to. I can’t do that at the moment because my demolished kitchen is my workshop!
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

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