A few months ago I started working on a new Sketchup file, one that encapsulated the current state of the shop and what a new shop would look like. I decided to have it all in one file, right next to each other, so I could see exactly what a new space could net my situation. That’s the featured image for this post, and what you see immediately below.
This is a file that has my current 144 square foot shop (12×12), a 192 square foot shop (12×16) and a 224 square foot shop (14×16).
Here is a closeup of what the shop pretty much is today, minus the scrap mess.
Ignore the grey handtool cabinet out of shot. Now, for a quick recap of what works and doesn’t work in this setup.
Pretty much everything on the left is exactly fine. The table saw doesn’t push enough to the right to allow for easy use of the jointer out the door, and the planer is too low to clear the table saw (which can be easily fixed at the casters). The drawers on the workbench interfere with the drawers on the router table. It’s very difficult to get to the end vise on the workbench, and I have no face vise.
If I change anything within the confines of a 12×12 space, I can’t and won’t take any steps back. It will be an improvement or it won’t happen, which is why I enjoy doing any layout changes virtually. I already have seen that the workbench won’t work blocking part of the entrance, because it sticks out too far.
What are the basic rules for a shop this size? Well, for me, anything that is taller than about 36″ has to go up against a wall. The bandsaw, drill press, etc can’t be anywhere in the middle because it interferes with large stock cutting at the table saw. Plus, it feels restricting. For a similar reason I have refused to put the MFT back as an outfeed table for the saw. Partly because with how the track pivots, it would have to be several inches away. Partly because it would stick up in the air when not being used, and the vac hose would as well. I did that once, didn’t like it for all three reasons.
As I said before, the left side is pretty much set. I could swap the router table and jointer, but it doesn’t make much sense when you consider I can use the router table top as another surface to assemble, glue, etc. Can’t do that with the jointer, and the fence is too tall to have and saw stock clear it anyway.
With one side of the shop completely spoken for, choices then become very limited in what can then move. You start looking at the biggest piece, the workbench, and have to consider spots for it first. Then you also have to consider the tall rule above, and the fact that the table saw should have some sort of access to the door, either infeed or outfeed.
Working within those confines, there are now five potential spots for the workbench to go:
- partially block entrance
- middle of right wall
- far end of right wall (current)
- middle of back wall
- outfeed position
Entrance location: so, it doesn’t block that much more of the right door than the lathe does, but one assumption you have to make with the other rules is that there would have to be some space to access the bench because the table saw only easily rolls in one direction. When you move the table saw more to the middle, depth-wise, it means other things have to move around as well and it just doesn’t seem to make sense. So, that one gets eliminated.
I’ll take on the outfeed position next, because it’s the next most radical choice. There’s really two options here as well: one is having the entire length of the bench be the outfeed, and the other it abuts to the rear like the router table. On the first choice, it would work if I had one or two less tools. It just doesn’t work with what I have, but if I didn’t have the MFT or router table, it could work.
The other outfeed position, in line with the long axis of the table saw, actually does seem to work. The front half of the shop stays the same, and really just the router table and workbench swap. In reality the MFT could go in the corner as well. There is space for everything, no space-time conflicts exist. However, I’m not sure it’s an improvement. I still have space issues bringing the jointer and planer out. I have reduced access to either the MFT or router table, and using the bandsaw or drill press becomes almost impossible. It is a layout that doesn’t pass many tests.
Far right corner is what I have now, and there’s no need to really write more about that. Middle right would seem to be an option on first glance, but the issue then is I have one too many tall machines, and the router table would have to be pulled out whenever I wanted to use the workbench, even more than I have to now. So, back wall. This one had the most promise, the one I wanted to work the most. But alas, it doesn’t really work either. The issue is again that I have one too many items.
However, there might be ONE way that could work, and it is as such:
It mostly keys on if the jointer can come out from it’s spot with the workbench there. If it can, then it becomes possible. The table saw can push closer to the wall to allow for the jointer to be used. Also gives room for the router table to be spun sideways to clear for it and the planer. Since I don’t need the bandsaw that often, it’s fine to be spun sideways and up against the wall. The drill press to the corner, and it can be used easier. The downside would be that I wouldn’t have as good of access to the MFT, but with the router table able to be spun that disappears pretty easily. The MFT could but right up against the workbench if I wanted to.
It could be worth exploring. The jointer might fit in that small gap because the base is wider at the bottom, and should clear the bench. If I tried this out, I could do it fairly easily: remove all scrap, collapse the MFT, and the bench slides over. Then I’d move the drill press and set the MFT back up. It’s always hard to move the workbench, but then again it should be.
This is designed to be a mini-series, and I will start on the next part (the future) when I determine if moving the workbench will work. I can use my success and failures of today to set up a better future in spatial relations.