Building my first woodworking space, need help

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On Tue, 15 Jun 2010 10:54:08 -0700, Dave wrote:

My little shop is 12x14, but it does have wiring installed. It's difficult to build large pieces in such a small space, but I've done it by sectionalizing the pieces. The most important thing is to have everything on wheels and use flip top stands to share one space with two tools.
I've also got a "tower" with 4 tools on shelves that I can take out and set on a rolling cabinet. There's an empty "shelf" that sits on the cabinet when there's no tool on it so I can use it as an extra work space.
You may spend a lot of time moving stuff around, but you can definitely do some useful work in that space.
Forget about a big table saw. Get one of the better benchtops, or even better, an old old contractor saw. I've got a '48 Delta that, with a good blade, is at least as accurate as anything made today, but it has a very small table.
Or you can go the Shopsmith route, but I tried that and it was just too much tool setup for me. It's also pretty hard to duplicate a prior setup exactly after you've reconfigured the machine.
Good luck.
--
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

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Not enough, not enough, c'est la vie.
Get hold of the Taunton Press "Workshop Book" (also their "Workbench Book")
Cabinet saw and workbench, the rest needs to fit round those.
If you've bought a ready-made building, consider ripping out the main window over your hand workbench and doubling its size. Artificial light is worth making an effort to get more of.
Go easy on wood storage. You can have other people do this for you, so ask if this is the best value use you're getting out of your expensive building. Wouldn't you rather have a bandsaw there? Don't be afraid to rent cheap off-site for rough log storage.
Roof storage needs to be planned for and installed before other stuff gets in the way. It's also a good place to hide cyclone fans or dehumidifiers, if you need such.
A shed full of junk stops being a workshop. Less is more. Be ruthless.

Yes. Spend the necessary money to get a fixed power supply out there too. It is far easier and quicker to work with lights that just come on when you hit the switch. It's also easier to install this now while it's empty and easy to work around.

Think of your climate, your daylight, and look at other's local experience. My "workshop time" is largely dark winter evenings - day job, outdoors in the summer evenings. So I need a little heat, lots of artificial light, and lots of rainproofing. One of my biggest jobs at present (huge old shed (1,000sq ft), but needing refurb) is to get some decent insulation in there.
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Wow, thanks everyone for the great replies.
To answer some questions:
I live on Long Island, NY, so a good part of the year the shed will be too damn cold or dark to do anything. I can make dust march - november, after that I'll just pine.
Planning is an absolute must. Not only am I going to be trying to sqeeze a work bench, tools and the rest in the shed, I'm going to have to put all my yard tools/mowers/other junk in there. She is already planning moving a bunch of stuff from the house to the shed too. *sigh*
I have two windows in the front of the shed for some light, and I'll have the doors open when I'm working.
My first projects will be making a good bench and a good wooden toolbox. Anyone have any good plans for a bench? I do wonder tho if having a workbench on wheels i a good idea. Don't want it moving when I am trying to use the table saw. (Table saws scare the f***k out of me).
I'll take pictures and paste the links here as I get going.
Thanks! Dave
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Hand tools don't take much space to store or to use. Ever watch Roy Underhill on the Woodwright's shop?

Ah, so you won't have a shop, but merely a storage area. Don't worry, you can work with it. Claim a space by the doors for your tools and defend it. Others will clutter it up, it happens to me all the time.

You could take a look at the Google Sketchup gallery. They've got tons of plans for things like that there. [Btw: If anyone's submitted anything to the 3D gallery, thanks! It really made workshop planning in Sketchup easy.] I've not quite gotten around to designing my bench, but one of the things I intend to do is have several shallow drawers for screwdriver/chisel storage and several deeper drawers for larger items.
A good table saw is too heavy to place on a bench when you want to use it. There's one Ridgid makes that folds up into a rather convienent size, has tool storage on the side, and can be rolled out when you want to use it. I've never used it, but it gets recommended every once in a while so it's probably a good tool.

Hope this helps,
Puckdropper
--
Never teach your apprentice everything you know.

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On Thu, 17 Jun 2010 06:25:05 -0700, Dave wrote:

Mine is on wheels, but I jack it up onto a couple of 4x4 blocks at each end. With storage underneath it does *not* move, even with hand planing. This method makes it a little hard to move, but I find it's the one thing in the shop that seldom moves.
Oh yes, if the bottom is solid for storage, put a piece of cardboard on the floor under the bench. Pull out the cardboard to retrieve dropped items. DAMHIKT :-).
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Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

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*snip*

That's a great idea. Plus, you can pull the cardboard out when finishing something and use it to protect your floor.
Puckdropper
--
Never teach your apprentice everything you know.

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Your first task is planning the layout (work areas) within your limited space. The shop-planning books already mentioned are of incredible benefit to you. Building your work areas to best suit the work-flow of the sorts of projects to which you aspire, using the skills you have and wish to gain, will reap maximum enjoyment of what is likely going to wind up being a very small amount of dedicated space. Do this as soon as possible, lay claim to the area(s) that will remain dedicated to woodworking, and defend your turf tenaciously.
Speaking of aspirations. You've not indicated your interests, but there are a number of skills that can be mastered in a small work area. Then, in the future, when there's a larger house/property with a larger shop, and you have the space to construct large pieces, you'll also have the skills to build fine furniture. I believe you could easily develop, within the confines you've described, significant talent at joinery, bending, laminating, veneering, inlay, and carving; .
Your second task, in my opinion, is to determine the ideal height of your work-surfaces. The previously recommended workbench books offer a variety of formulas for this extremely important ergonomic decision. The formula I used in my own shop was the height of my palms at attention (shoulders back, chest out, arms at side) with wrists bent upward so the hands are parallel with the floor. Everything I can control (workbench, table-saw, chop-saw, etc.) is at that height. That makes them all comfortable for me to use for extended periods and eases transferring things from one work area to the next.
If your shed is like others I've seen, the floor-joists are atop a couple runners (4x4 of 6x6) that sit directly on the ground. Down here on the big sandbar (FL) we're required to lash them to ground- screws. In any case, your floor will likely be well above ground level. If that is the case, I believe you'll be well served by a large-as-you- can-manage-deck, at floor height, immediately outside your doors. That will make rolling tools out for use much more convenient. That will also work very well with the awning others have recommended.
I am a huge fan of having permanent outlets. Do yourself a favor and trench in some gray polybutylene conduit with adequate wire to deliver at least 30amps to your shed. That way you can run a real power-hog with the lights on. Lights are like clamps. It is not possible to have too many. Once the wiring is run, any electrician will be able to hook you up. Don't know about NY, but most places I've been, owner- installed electrical does not have to be inspected because you can't sue yourself.

There are as many definitions of "good" workbench as there are designs and plans. Portability is not a friend of workbenches for hand work. I believe you'll be happier in your shed with a smallish bench that gains some stability from being affixed to a side-wall (preferably near the door). Unless you are planning on traveling elsewhere to do woodworking, I don't believe you'll get as much use from a toolbox as you would permanent storage (cabinets & cupboards). Everything you build for your shop, be it fixed or wheeled, will have room below the working surface that can be leveraged as storage.
My opinion, and $4, will get you a coffee some places. :-)
Best of luck with your endeavors.
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On Thu, 17 Jun 2010 14:24:29 -0700, PyroHog wrote:

You forgot turning :-).
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Welcome to the club. ;)

I am in a similar situation.

Quite a lot. Yes.

With the assistance of my father-in-law, we ran a line under the house from the main panel to the shed. We put it all on a new circuit. It's been working fine for years with only an occasional trip when bad weather rolls in, like the storms we had in '08 where over a million here were without power.

I live in a mobile home community. Ergo I have very limited space to have a real woodshop. I have mainly been using my utility room to do turning, with some creative enhancements to protect everything. Then I added a scrollsaw, and now a drill press and bandsaw, etc. Obviously I can't keep it all in-house, so some is in a 12x16 barn style shed.
It houses garden tools, misc house items and the woodworking tools. This year it's going to get an upgrade. More cabinets and a bigger work surface. Either later this year or next year, the plan is to extend it another 7-8 feet, splitting it into two parts, one for a woodshop and one for everything else.
So far it has worked for me for the past five years. From my point of view, you'll get a lot into your 12x12 if you are only going to use it for a shop. I unfortunately cannot dedicate it entirely to that but the addition should give me a 12x8 shop that should nicely handle all my current requirements, and a few still to come.
`Casper
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