Refining the shop layout

I’ve spent the last week looking at my shop layout and looking for ways to improve it. I want to, in general, create more space so that one day I can add a midi lathe to my arsenal. There’s things you just can’t easily do without a lathe. I also need to find a home for my hollow chisel mortiser, and making sure I have enough room on a wall for my tool cabinet build. It’s such a busy little place.

I decided that save the location of the table saw and workbench, everything is negotiable to try and gain some space. I hate to completely blow up my master plan, but after using it for awhile I can see that I have some room for improvement. Nothing is sacred, not even my cabinets or router table.

The first place I’m going to start is my planer cart. The cart itself isn’t really the issue, it’s the location. I’ve noticed I always bring it to the entry so I can plane long boards, so I think it should find a home back in the front right corner. I currently use the carcass to store my hardware bins, and that’s not that big of a deal. What I could look at, however, is making the cart a little larger. With the dust chute on the back, I can’t fold up that outfeed table, and thus the actual footprint of the planer is a bit larger than just the body. And since the planer works extremely well, it would probably behoove me to make plans based on it’s dimensions, not the Dewalt DW735, which I’ve been wanting for awhile. Other things could use the cash before that, certainly. I absolutely love the current height. It’s the right height for long and heavy boards, like I’ve experienced with my workbench project. That project has been invaluable in that respect – keeping me from putting it on a low cart and trying to save room that way. If I can find the room, I can fit a tool or two along with the planer on the side. I have to be careful about how big I make this cart, but it might be possible. The mortiser, a future grinding station…I have a few options here. I don’t think I’ll try to fit the miter saw here regardless. If I can’t fit anything about the same height, I still have a bunch of storage opportunity beneath the planer. I could possibly fit two sections of hardware storage, or something bigger below. I’ve about run out of big tools that I need low.

If I move the planer to the front corner, the drill press then has to move elsewhere. I’d kind of like it to be on the end of a cabinet run. I had thought on the left end of one, but then I don’t want to crank the table handle and crack my hand on a cabinet. I’m still trying to decide on this, but the drill press is actually a very easy thing to leave to the end of the planning. Similarly, the bandsaw is pretty easy to stow on the left or back wall, somewhere near the middle of either. On the back is a little more difficult, as it would interfere with any long boards ripped on the table saw. A mobile base would take care of that, if that was judged to be the best spot otherwise. I know it won’t go in a corner, or between runs of cabinets. The bandsaw looks likely to go back to the back wall, the drill press to the left wall just past the wall rack. At least, at this point, it seems the most likely scenario. Now it is possible that they could end up both on the left wall and I retain the full-length cabinet wall I’ve planned to have for ages. If I plan well enough, I could incorporate the mortiser somewhere in there as well. I do have to be careful about the girth of the mortiser and how I brace for it underneath.

I’ve decided to widen the area of my modular stations to 24″ each. Partly this is due to the expanded room I’ll have, partly due to making things easy on the brain, and mostly due to upgrade options. I really like the Hitachi 12″ zero-clearance slider, and this requires at least 24″ in width to clear the deck. If I ever get this though, it will probably have to just live on a cabinet not directly around the workbench as it would stick out pretty far from the edge of the cabinet. Not a great feeling to have the handle poke you in the kidney while trying to plane, I imagine. Allowing the modules to be wider allows me to use the sander in these sections or on any flat surface.

What I haven’t mentioned thus far is the router table, and that’s because I’m eliminating it. I’ve thought forever that I needed a freestanding, mobile table, but in all honesty I can get by without it. I have a spot on my table saw ready-made to house a router, and I can also come up with another solution as well that will take up less space. The only thing I have to concern myself with is bit and accessory storage, easily done in drawers in one of the cabinets. I’m not quite sure what I will do to make a space-saving router table though. Do I make a module? Flip up or flip down table?

I still have to figure out a way to get scrap storage under control, perhaps that starts with doing a better job of throwing stuff away. I’m also investigating going to a larger dust separator.

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