A virtual return to the shop

I needed a bit of a spark to get back into woodworking, and ultimately the shop layout did the trick. I have always spent way more time and energy on the shop than actually building things, so where else would I turn to get off the schneid?

But to what end? I built the shop based on the layout I’ve had for the last four years now. How much could I change? Would it really make a difference? Would I have to give up anything? The last thing I wanted to do was to make things worse, or have this be a waste of time.

Why change? Well, I was tired of having to deal with a few shortcomings. One is that I have to move my MFT any time I want to get into the loft. I was up there the other day searching for a dead animal (under the shop, thankfully or not thankfully), and I brought down a massively overfilled dust bag. The MFT is a bit hard to spin to the side to gain enough clearance. Another aspect is that I will often run into clearance issues with my router fence and outfeed from the table saw. Another is having to be trapped temporarily while I use the drum sander. But the biggest annoyance by far is the new lathe cabinet I built, and the drawer storage that I started on. I have to move the table saw to get to any of it, and that was a massive oversight on my part.

Addressing really any of these took some thinking outside of the box. There’s only so much room in the shop, and some of these things don’t play well with others, particularly since most of it is right at the same working height. The jointer tables are going to interfere with the table saw, and the MFT, and…well, everything. So I had to start thinking about deletion possibilities. What could I live without? Or, more appropriately, try to live without?

There were four options that I settled on after thinking about it some. I could get rid of the miter saw. I could spend a ton of money on a combo planer/jointer. I could get rid of the table saw. I could get rid of the workbench. All have their upsides and a lot of downsides.

Getting rid of the miter saw is fairly doable, considering that I am limited in length that I can crosscut. My Festool HKC can handle crosscuts anywhere, after all. But there’s something to be said for repeatability of cuts, and getting rid of the miter saw would really only get rid of the tool – I’ve paired the footprint need down to almost just the tool at this point. I can certainly revisit this option in the future, but I actually think I’ll go in the opposite direction and upgrade to the Kapex at some point.

The planer/jointer combo is something that has intrigued me for some time, but it is an absolute fortune. I also don’t think it will save that much room, to be honest. I’ll still have to have at least the same amount of floor space dedicated, and with the planer being separate it allows for a little more leeway in placing things around. The planer/jointer would also likely require 220v, which I cannot do.

The table saw is an intriguing prospect, because I could do a lot of the tool’s task with a track saw and guide. The only thing that would be an issue is narrow rip cuts. However, unless I replace it with more horizontal surface I have no way to do full sheet breakdowns inside the shop. An idea that I could maybe hold onto.

The workbench. I built this early on in the life of the shop, and has done well for me since then. It is super solid for planing and chopping tasks. Getting rid of it would mean not having these things, and a place for my hardware bins and scrap storage underneath. But it would get rid of a weird-shaped item and allow for some different layouts that the workbench is the main reason I can’t use.

It’s a big decision to undertake, but one I’ll need to follow through on to make my shop work.

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