How I Work

So, I have a 12×12 workshop, with limited flat terrain outside the shop. Exactly how do I get things done?

Sheet Goods

I have several tools that I can use for breaking down plywood. I have a Ryobi One+ 18v circular saw that I can take with me to a store, in case I can’t or won’t bring a full sheet home. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a turd. Extremely weak, even with new blades. It will cut a foot and cut out. I may try it again soon just to see. I also have another corded circular saw that I generally keep around for crappy wood, usually for breaking down items to go into the trash. It could, however, be used if I needed to.

By far though, the go-to tool is the Festool TS55 and the rails. I’ll bring a sheet of whatever home, and set it up on the Centipede XL sawhorse system on a relatively flat area in front of the shop. I’ve been using two 2x4s with the X-cups, but I recently remembered I had a sheet of 3/4″ solid foam board stashed away. The 2x4s work okay, but don’t give me a splinter free cut like the foam does.

On the Centipede, I’ll take care of the initial crosscuts. Because I don’t have a rail long enough for rip cuts, that’s the route I choose. One day I’ll invest in the longest rail for this purpose. I’ll get the remaining stuff down to secondary crosscuts and move to either the MFT or table saw. If I needed to do rip cuts first, I’d have to use the table saw, or the track saw and have to move the rail mid-cut. If I need to cut a precise rip cut, I may use the rail and cut it slightly bigger, then finish on the table saw, a Delta 36-725.

What I really need to do is buy or make a pair of parallel guides for these cuts. I was thinking the Seneca or DIY. Otherwise, I’m pretty satisfied with my approach. It will be even better when I have a level surface to set the Centipede up on.


With the new table saw, I have no doubt that anything I need to do is covered. First step is to let it setup for a couple of days in the shop. Then I use my Craftsman 6-1/8″ jointer to set two perpendicular edges. This is a model from the 90s or so, probably an Emerson model or some such. Model 232240, if you cared. It is in need of a new set of blades, or at least sharpened. Otherwise, working well. Next step is running it through the Dewalt 735x planer. Best portable planer you can buy, IMO. I direct the chips from this directly to the separator. The final cut is done on the table saw and I can either sand or scrape away the blade marks. Crosscuts I typically do on the miter saw, but a table saw sled is upcoming.


I have a custom cabinet that houses a Triton 3HP router in an offset table. I use an Incra 17 positioner and the super fence. The plate is a Kreg, and is controlled by a Rockler power switch. At some point in the future I will upgrade to an Incra top and Cleansweep plate and rings. Otherwise, the table is in it’s final form. Plenty of storage for all the accessories I have. Handheld, it’s the Festools: OF1400 or OF1010. Big, medium, little. I may pick up another router or two down the road, but I’m good for now.


For some tasks, it’s the Ridgid EB4424 – oscillating spindle and edge sander. I can also do handheld tasks with a Triton belt, a Festool ETS 150/3, a Festool DTS, hand sanding blocks, etc.


All turning is done on the Harbor Freight 12×33 lathe, basically a copy of the Jet 1236. It’s on a custom stand, and tools are the Bodger set from Highland. I have strips for sanding, nothing else at this point.

Hand tools

My hand tool selection is a bit hodge-podge at this point. All my chisels are Narex, as are my rasps. I have a set of Felo screwdrivers for fine work, plus others. I have a generic file set. My planes are a mix of Groz, Record and a Stanley. I have one scraper, and some of the usual hand tool accessories. My two nice saws are Veritas, as is my router plane.

Power hand tools

First off, the Domino 500 is indispensable, I use it a ton. I still use my Ryobi One+ 18v tools a bit, including the drills and impact driver. I also have a set of Bosch 12v drivers that have become my go-to. I have a Craftsman jigsaw that’s okay.


The big tools get hooked up to a Ridgid vac that has a Thein separator lid on a 20-gallon (I think) metal can. That’s a 2.5″ hose that hooks up to the table saw, router table, bandsaw, and jointer. The planer gets disconnected from the vac, because the blower is so powerful. The miter saw isn’t currently hooked up to anything. The Festools and other power hand tools use the Festool CT MIDI.


I use the MFT to hold anything I need to hit with the Domino, plus do most of my drilling/driving on it. Crosscuts, as long as they fit and are sheet goods, get used with the 1080 rail. Sanding, light planing or pretty much anything light and quick get done on the MFT, it’s really the workhorse of the shop. Heavier or more intensive stuff goes over to my SYP Holtzapffel workbench. It only has an end vise at this point, but Gramercy holdfasts help with everything else. I use the 3M quick release masks when I need them, and Milwaukee glasses (OOP). Hearing protection, I usually grab my 3M Worktunes, the old model with the digital readout. I clamp with Jet parallel clamps, Bessey F-clamps and spring clamps, and Festool clamps on the MFT and rails. Crosscuts on the table saw use the Incra 1000HD. My drill press is a Ridgid DP1500, and the bandsaw is a HF model with a Powermatic riser. Currently, a Wood Slicer blade is on there and is working well.

I have a sweet set of Kobalt sockets that slide out on a drawer when needed. My hardware is a mix of Spax and Fastenal square drive. I watch streaming content on an Amazon Fire stick hooked up to a super cheap Supersonic 15.6″ HDTV/DVD (I think I paid $30 for it). Music/radio is handled by a Ryobi 18v radio or a 30GB Zune hooked up to the TV. I can get online (besides my phone) with a very old former Windows XP laptop/tablet running Xubuntu. If I can get dust control down, however, I’ll be switching over to a tablet and keyboard. The laptop takes too long and is always asking for a password for no reason.

Lighting is a series of GE linkable 23″ and 36″ fluorescents. A couple of fan-blowing heaters and a couple of Ryobi 18v fans. I have a Craftsman HCM that is still looking for a Morris chair to build. Sharpening is on a Rikon 8″ slow grinder and Wolverine jig for turning, either sandpaper or Norton water stones for chisels and plane blades.

I really can’t think of any other details, but feel free to ask.




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