Talking about the layout of my current shop, or ideas for a new shop, is not a new thing for this website. I think I talk about these things more often than any other subject, partially because it is so painful. This website, and the writing of it, are a catharsis for my soul. Work is hard right now, as hard as a job that allows me to work from home can be. I don’t feel like getting out to the shop for an hour, so let me talk about some things instead.
I ordered a Festool Trion jigsaw to replace my Craftsman. I could not in good conscience use the Craftsman again without seeing if it was truly broken. If the Festool gives demonstrably better results, it stays. If not, it gets returned and I look for alternate methods.
I really want to improve my skills and my projects, and as I’ve said before I believe my circumstances play some small part in my ability to get better. I simply need more room. I should be able to complete projects while they are in the shop, not where they’ll end up. If I want to do the computer desk or bed frame or any number of projects that I have cooking on my to-do list, I need more real estate.
I went back to the drawing board, literally, looking at space considerations for a new shop. First off, I identified the tools and the spaces I use most often. Notably, I use my Festools most often and also need a place to use them. That’s the chaos wall and that’s the MFT. Design considerations need to make the systainers easy to get to and use, and expanding what I do now is a good way to go. The MFT is good as-is, but might benefit from some structured storage underneath. That, however, is a project that needs to wait and see if some other things need to find a home under there. Both the planer and sander, on carts, could fit under there with the CT Midi. Maybe.
The table saw is obviously a big part of what I do as well, and the size of it dictates it would play a major role. It is much more limited where it can be, and it generally needs at least eight feet behind the blade to cut and hopefully nothing taller than the table behind it. I get into the router table drawers a fair amount, and will always need access to the workbench and hand tools.
The planer and jointer are only sometimes tools, but when they get used they need a lot of space. The most obvious thing to do would be to hide them under other storage if possible, and then use right in front of other things you don’t need at the same time. Jointer and miter saw bench, planer and miter saw bench are good examples. Or planer right next to the door, and just open the door.
The bandsaw and drill press can be put on wheels and stuffed anywhere until needed. The lathe is a pain, but that can be worked around as well.
By far the biggest problem I have is all my space needs are at ground level. It’s rare that I can stack things and get more use. Only things like that are hand tools, finishing, and just other spare small bits and pieces. Most everything I have is too heavy to go up high, or needs the mobility of casters.
There is one interesting scenario though. If I could get rid of my big wall-mounted cabinet above the lathe, it could open up a bit more space on the floor. I just played around with the Sketchup model and there might be some room opened up by doing that. Except for finding a home for the stuff in there, it wouldn’t be that hard of a task. The lathe gets turned 90°, the bandsaw and drill press go where the lathe was. That would be phase one. Phase two would be reworking the left side of the shop where the miter saw is to free up more room for an expanded chaos wall with hardware storage that lines up with the top of where the miter saw needs to go. The sander and perhaps planer would need to fit under the MFT, which means I have to find a home for the misc bin underneath, but that isn’t a big deal at all. Very little wiring changes need to happen, and no huge upheaval like the workbench moving was. This is a real consideration, I will spend a few days building Sketchup models of the new storage solutions and seeing if they would fit. As of right now, no foreseeable downsides.
As for a new shop, I’ve added a new option for size, 14×16. That extra two feet in width might be really useful. I have no idea if that size would actually happen, but it might be big enough to fit two things I have great need for – a drum sander and a small CNC, in that order.