Revisiting the shop layout

In my forum activities this week, I noticed a picture of someone else’s shop where they had the jointer at the end of their table saw. It got me thinking about my own shop, and the difficulties therein. With the new bench pending, I decided to investigate if there were better options where things were. In particular, I wondered if there was a better spot to keep my bench so that I could make better use of the left end of the bench.

I took my existing Sketchup file for the shop and started modifying the existing components. I made changes that I figured I would in real life, small changes to make things fit in a new layout. I was also hoping to find a home for my mortiser. I spent a couple of hours modifying components, moving things around, trying to figure out a good solution. I’ve yet to make new components to exactly fit a new layout, but I’ve already come to a conclusion: I don’t think there will be any changes.

My current layout does present a few challenges. I have little access to the twin vise on the new bench. Moving the jointer and planer into position to work on long boards is difficult. Accessing the router table is impossible right now due to stock, and it’s hard anyway. But so far, I’ve not found a solution that retains my ability to move around the shop. Moving the bench cuts down on available space. I need to leave room to access the end vise, and currently I accomplish that by integrating that space into the aisle that gets me from front to back. I have to also take into account drawers that I can open by using that space as the aisle between the benches.

I’ll keep examining it over the next few days before the bench gets assembled, but it looks like things are going to largely stay the same. I think I will make one significant change – when the router table gets rebuilt from scratch, I will make it slightly taller and have it take the place of the cabinet surface it currently resides under. Doing this, I can do most routing with the table in place, and not have to pull it out. I will have to design the dust collection for it with this in mind, but I don’t see that to be too big a concern. I will in turn have to modify the side of the router table to accept the modular tool system I still plan on making.

Finding a spot for the mortiser still presents a challenge. I don’t want to make it a part of the modular system because it weighs too much. It’s pretty close in weight to the planer, but I’m fairly against making a flip cart. I won’t rule it out, but it never seems to be as stable as one would like. Since I have nowhere else to put it, I may have to change my mind. This will mean I have to find another spot for my hardware containers, but that’s a much easier task than to find something for the mortiser.

There is another option for the mortiser, one I’m leaning toward – permanently keeping it in the right side modular station. That would mean the miter saw gets stowed in the cabinet and pulled out as needed. The miter saw is much lighter and easier to lift up and down, and I could orient the measuring  tape toward the middle of the wall.

I’ll do some thinking about it for sure.

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