Let there be light!

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to spend some quality time in my shop, partly to admire my newest addition. The main reason was that I didn’t want to insult it, introducing it to a disaster. The first thing that came to my mind was moving things around again, because of course. This is what I do. But it occurred to me that my workbench was six feet long, and my lathe was five feet long – I should have room to put these along one wall. My Sketchup experiments the last few days before that we’re leading me to believe I needed to put the lathe in the table saw corner. Why? At only 18 inches deep at most, it would be a good place for it, a place where a tool should go that isn’t in the normal process of milling and preparing wood. If my future lathe cabinet is designed well enough as well, I won’t always need access to it either.

So, the layout swap was on again and I may be on to something here. While space is a bit tight where they meet, I do have good access to the end vise and the lathe motor (which can pivot for large bowls). There is a slight concern for the front vise when that gets installed, but I think I will be okay at the back wall. The advantages of having the workbench here is that the items that may be left on it do not interfere with the saw, the router table, the planer or anything else that needs the doorway for clearance. I also now have a corner to put tools on the wall and have direct access. As such, a bunch of things got rearranged on those two walls. I am not set on a layout yet, so look for that to change. I do have some nice ideas though.

Moving the bench meant moving others. The bandsaw and the drill press for now are against the back wall. I don’t really see an alternative here. I can easily use both, especially if I put some wheels on the drill press. Behind the DP column I found room for a couple of bulky items like my hex wrenches and a circular saw. Detailed pictures coming next time I’m out there. As far as layout goes, nothing else has really changed – miter saw wall is where it is and mobile carts go where they can.

With the cold weather upon us we did get some sub-freezing temperatures in the shop. As such, my lithium batteries were affected. Very hard to charge fully, and I thought I lost them all. I took advantage of a Home Depot sale and picked up a new drill and two small lithiums for about $80. I tried to get the two large for $100 deal, but they were sold out. I also while I was there bought an under cabinet fluorescent fixture to experiment with. I attached it to the ceiling and plugged it in, and it was like a revelation. One of these put out way more light than my three cordless LED lights combined. I now have all sorts of good light to work in, and it makes being out in the workshop after dark a real possibility. In fact, I was out there late Sunday and I really enjoyed it. I plan on adding one or two more for full light distribution. At $20 each, these are a much better investment than buying more LED lights. I will have to watch dimming, so they may have to go on their own extension cord. Running permanent power is still a pipe dream.

Thanks to my new layout and light, I was able to get some serious cleaning done throughout the shop, but most notably on the scrap wall. I culled four full trash bags worth of scrap, mostly plywood and MDF. My rack is now very sparse and my cabinet top is almost clear. Another round of that for the larger sheet goods and I will be able to park the air compressor in that corner and build a little box for it. I will also be able to start really evaluating how large my new miter saw station will be. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be fixing the drawers in it and adding the handles so I can see what I need to get at the most.

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