The lost summer

It was a summer lost, in and around Paris in the early ’30s. Times were still good, the air light and carefree…

OK, it was none of that. It’s been a spring and summer dominated by rain, mosquitos and a distinct lack of time spent in the shop. Most of my time lately has been setting up my new computer workstation, so I can do my job a bit more efficiently. Now that it’s about done (some cable management and decoration left to do), I’ve been thinking about getting back out to the shop. Not only getting back out there, but doing to it what I’ve done to my desk – make it the best I can and make it enjoyable.

While the addition of the lathe didn’t help the feeling of being cramped, it certainly didn’t cause it either. The place is disgustingly small to begin with, and perhaps my choices have made it worse. The worst offender of wasted space is the table saw. I think the folding stand is wonderful, however I’m torn as to if I should keep it on the saw. A better use of space would certainly be to make a stand for the saw that allowed for better use underneath. I could also integrate the router table into that, because the one I made recently I don’t think is going to make the cut. I haven’t outfitted it yet completely, but it doesn’t inspire confidence with it’s small base and very lightweight build. I can’t imagine running anything long or heavy on it.

It’s very tempting to try and sell my table saw and get something a bit more conventional. It’s also nice to have the option to kick up the saw into vertical storage, something I haven’t done in a very long time – partially because it takes up as much room vertical as it does horizontal. I can’t have anything on the wall where it would go, which impacts how much room it really saves. I really think I am going to have to seriously consider making a saw table and stowing the folding one under the house. As far as what room that would save, I would be able to store a couple of things under there, but unfortunately nothing that really helps the situation. Minor things add up, but right now I have major space issues.

As much as I enjoy my planer cart and the storage it provides, it is a bit of a waste of space. I could find room elsewhere for the hardware bins and sandpaper (the sandpaper side is the biggest offender), and perhaps I could just sit the planer in the corner on my miter bench. It wouldn’t be in the way of the miter saw, however it would be in the way of the wall rack. Always something… No where really else to put the wall rack unless it’s above the lathe. Where the lathe sits right now isn’t an option though for that solution.

At this time I don’t see me making any changes to my miter cabinet. It may not be the best constructed thing in the world, but it’s damn functional, which is an improvement over a lot of what I’ve done. Having a spot for the vac, separator and a ton of drawers is awesome. I may redo the cabinet which holds the sander and my wrenches, etc, because I think I can make a bit better use of that space. One idea could be a shelf to sit the planer on, since it needs to be near the door and workbench anyway. Or it might fit under the bench, I haven’t taken measurements. I’ll need to size for it’s replacement whatever I do. Really would like to buy the DW735 at some point.

Getting rid of the big rolling bin of scrap would be a big help, however it will only add to the feeling of more space, not be able to have anything take it’s place. Where it is now, at the junction of the two walkways, really needs to be clear. Or more clear, for better movement and (rare) access to the vacuum. Something small and thin could go there. I have no idea what that would be, however, because anything I need to find a spot for doesn’t meet that criteria. I may add more hooks to the ceiling to store the sawhorses, but those are small enough that I can find room for them elsewhere. It just becomes a matter of how easy they are to get to. I wish I had a loft or a higher ceiling so the ladder wouldn’t be so low, or it could be vertical and take up less ceiling room.

The shop certainly felt more open with the bench along a wall, however I’m not sure that is an option ever again. There might be an option to push it further back against the wall and have the walkway be between it and the saw, but I don’t know if that offers any real benefit. The most obvious place for the lathe either way would to butt up against the back of the bench, but that kills any cutting of sheet goods on the saw because of how high the headstock and motor are. I can remove the tailstock easily, but longer pieces aren’t going to be helped. There is literally nothing else that could go there (on a semi-permanent basis) unless I were to completely redo the miter saw cabinet, move it to the middle of the room, and be able to remove the miter saw when needed. That isn’t happening, because it’s too much of a pain. If I had a table drill press or a table bandsaw and they could fit under something…perhaps. Making another bench where the planer and mortiser flipped up would be really cool, but I don’t think I have the skills to pull it off. Plus since the other tools couldn’t sit on a bench, I end up losing a lot of floor space. That won’t be happening either.

There is a bit of space to be used under the drill press, if done wisely. I’ve been wanting to make a small cabinet that attaches to the base to store drill bits, but they’ve fit better on the walls to this point anyway. A few things are stored in the sander cabinet, so if that goes I will have to consider this. There’s not a lot for it to get in the way of, aside from possibly the jointer. The jointer, unfortunately, has become one of the biggest banes of space. I cannot store anything underneath, it’s tall enough to interfere with outfeed operations, and long enough that storing it in certain areas or positions becomes impractical. There’s a perfect spot it can store, if I didn’t care about a router table. The bandsaw has little room for improvement, it’s basically a column of mass that I can’t do anything with. I can store a couple of tools on it, I can shove something small underneath (like the dovetail jig) but other wise it is what it is. I can have a small cabinet above it though, if I move it away from the window. A consideration.

There is a very cool mortiser stand in America’s Best Home Workshops 2013 that I’d love to make, but only if it improves upon my situation. I’ve built too many things in the past that don’t do that. While I need to make better use of my wall space as well, it doesn’t help if it gets in the way of another operation, like using the saw or router table. Vertical stacking hasn’t been my strong suit thus far.

So for the next bit if I get out to the workshop it’s just going to be cleaning up. True cleaning up, with culling of excess stock. I still have a truckload of stuff to clean out of the yard as well, something I had hoped to do over a month ago. I see great ideas every day, but it’s just a matter of trying to put them together to be the best too-damn-small workshop it can be. I wish I had the funds to build from scratch, even at the same square footage it would be an improvement. But I don’t, so I have to try and work with it the best I can. I may work again in Sketchup with some mockups, but I have to be careful here: as well as I can work with the big stuff here, nothing ever quite captures all the little stuff I have to deal with. Stuff that adds up and gets in the way.

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