The layout problem

(Part of the Working in 144 series)

The layout. It’s the thing on everything will depend on. The rock. The floor. The foundation. Getting it wrong means so much in terms of how I use my shop. Getting it right means I can finally stop thinking about how to improve my shop and just get on with using it. I think about it so much because it is so important.

One of the hardest things about designing a layout in a shop this size is that you can have almost no thought about workflow. You don’t move around a shop to different machines when the machines are all within a foot or two of each other. Workflow in a shop this size is being able to use the next tool in the flow without the one before interfering with it, and vice versa. You really can’t have the planer ready to go where it would block the path of the feed from the table saw. The mortiser can’t interfere with the miter saw. In a lot of cases it helps to have most things mobile, but how annoying is it to be constantly moving things? I’m constantly moving my jointer to get at my clamps or hand tools. There’s only so much capability there.

One potential layout I had envisioned was to have the lathe sit under the left-hand extension of the miter saw. The saw would be raised a bit higher to clear the lathe and the extension would flip up when I needed to use the lathe. It really is a brilliant idea, however I do lose the potential storage benefits of having the counter. It would require me to have nearly three feet of clear wall behind it. That’s quite a bit of real estate.Or bring the lathe out a bit to have the shelf take up less height and away from the wall, but how do I make good use of the about 10″ behind the lathe? It’s not light, you know.

This is a very rough representation of what a layout like that would look like

I think I can do better though.

That render looks a lot closer to what I think I am going to do. I’ve played around with layouts for weeks now, and I keep coming to the conclusion this makes the most sense. Why? For the simple fact that the lathe stand is only 18″ wide, it makes the most sense for things to be in front of it when not in use, not in front of other things. The most logical thing to put in front of it is the table saw, just like it is now. If the saw is right up against the door, I can access the lathe just fine for short turns. For longer turns I can fold the saw up assuming I keep the saw on the stand. Otherwise, roll it elsewhere. I should still be able to access most of the drawers without too much effort, however I will have to watch what I put in them and be only for turning, or if I use a drawer otherwise, something I don’t need access to a lot. Perhaps the ‘destruction’ tools I have such as the recip saw, circ saw, etc. That I will have to consider and ponder. I definitely don’t want to put things I would need there in the middle of a project or especially assembly. My grinders would find a good home here, even the Worksharp. Any light maintenance sharpening is done with the tiles, or stones in the future. If I’m at the lathe, I already have access to the grinder.

The lathe doesn’t really interfere with the bench, as I’ve had this layout for a little while now. My end vise is giving me grief with the locking mechanism, but I still have full access to it. I can always swing the end out if I need better access. I think instead of the face vise I will go with a Moxon so I can use it away from the end. Cheaper, too. Problem sorted. Right now on the floor between the drill press and the bench is my old planer, I really should go ahead and put it on Craigslist. Perhaps if I can figure out where all the parts for it are…Also right there is the air compressor, which will move where that box is at the lower left corner of the render. Hopefully putting it into a box with rigid foam insulation will cut down on the noise and vibration. If I can accomplish that, it can stay in the shop.

Under the other jointer table is the separator, which to the best of my measuring ability will fit fine under it. If it’s close, I can modify the design slightly. If I’ve completely done my math poorly, then I suppose I will need another solution. I’d like to keep the vac in the cabinet directly to the right of the separator, but it may have to back yet again in the back left corner where that open space is now. My socket set will share the cabinet. I may have room for a drawer. That open space in the corner is for another cabinet that will hold something, and serve as support to the right of the saw. Probably going to be systainer storage. Under the saw right now is rendered systainer storage, but that is going to change with a new idea I’ve had just the other day.

What I have here should allow me to have a 24×32 offset router table that I can use as an outfeed table, or simply move out of the way. While this design isn’t final, it’s the one I keep coming back to. Workbench near the window, lathe in the corner, jointer near the door, and everything else in the best place it can be.

My one caveat with this is that the miter saw components haven’t been enlarged to show 28″ depth yet. With that, and my seemingly brilliant plan to alleviate my major table problem, I have to say ‘to be continued.’ As soon as I have the revised Sketchup render done and evaluated, I can say for sure what is going to happen. Stay tuned…

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