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See How Easily You Can Draw Your Dream Shop

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Conveying and Recording Your Design to Yourself Using Your Current Abilities
I get it. Your shop evolved randomly, and is now an accumulation of stuff you bought or made as you needed them. You’ve been so busy making stuff that things are the way they were.

You’ve even made whole projects on the fly, with few drawings, or maybe just a rough sketch on a post-it note you put in your pocket for later.

However, to really optimize your shop for yourself, it’s got to be built over time in design…

A Tour of the Sam Maloof House

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I finally did it. No, I didn’t buy a new bandsaw (though that is coming soon…), but I went to the Sam Maloof house and compound, took the tour, and wandered around for hours.

I went with two friends of mine; one who gardens (there is a garden tour as well), and one who loves woodworking and photography. Just like Sam, it’s really a friendly, stress-free place to visit…

Where Do I Begin?

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I don’t even know where to begin in this article…there’s just so much to write about. And what if I write about something when I should have written something else before that? Maybe I should just go watch TV. Oooh…176 channels. What if I’m missing a show while I’m watching another one? Maybe a DVD would be nice. But which one?

Having an image in your head of your workspace isn’t too hard; but when you get into the details and realize how many decisions can be made and how many options there are, it begins to feel like cleaning before your mother comes over. Where the hell do you start?

Saving Money on Tools Will Cost You

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Do you walk into a woodworking store with one hand on your wallet?

When I’m in the shop, and something doesn’t work, I’m somehow willing to pay all kinds of money to make everything right again. But when I’m shopping, I get cheap. I think it’s because I’m not experiencing the frustrated feelings while shopping.

There are times when buying a cheap tool is ok, but when can you get away with it and not wind up costing yourself more money?

Do This!

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Your shop layout can be ruined and made pointless by something trivial.

Your jointing a bunch of boards, and when you’re done you plan on switching seamlessly to the Table Saw, which is positioned perfectly for that very thing.

But, you have a pile of shavings getting in the way of your jointer operation, so you look for a brush to sweep them off the jointer bed. Not a brush in sight. Dangit, it’s over there on the assembly table near the sander. So you walk over there, grab it, and go back to the jointer. Perfect workflow? Fail.

This could happen when you go to the Table Saw and can’t find a push block. If you have to keep looking for little things all the time, there’s really no point in arranging your machines at all.

What is the answer?

Tool Clusters!

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The Most Commonly Neglected Layout Strategy.

Stack of boards. I can’t even get started making this cabinet until I’ve milled all 4 sides of these 30 boards.

Tedious tasks like this can be made less annoying by adjusting your “manufacturing process” to eliminate unnecessary things like walking around, picking up all the boards only to put them down again, and losing track…

Dust Collection Mastery

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Dust Collection Options

A friend asks you to help him with his shop ideas.

“What kind of dust collection system should I consider?”

“Ahh, I’d put in a central collector, duct it to each machine, and have a remote on/off keychain with me. Put blastgates at each machine to maximize suction on the tool you’re using. Then you can do woodworking without dragging a shop vacuum or small collector around the shop or re-hooking up flex hoses. “

Now, if you’d recommend this to someone you care about, what about you?

There are many ways to do this, but there are better ways… The set-it-and-forget-it method of dust collection you can do yourself!

2-Day Shop Renewal

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When driving a long distance, you know that if you stop somewhere even to just get gas or buy a snack how much better you feel when you get back in the car. You could go for another 100 miles. But just 7 minutes ago, you felt like falling asleep.

Giving yourself a boost like this is important when you notice you’re in a routine and things aren’t quite right.

Every so often, …

Workshop Layout: What’s the Objective for Your Shop?

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3 Questions You Should Ask Before You Even Start

• Do you think of your whole shop as a tool?
• What do you want your shop to do for you?
• What do you need to do in your shop, both for now and the future?

If you can answer these questions you have the basic strategic direction you need to move forward in designing your dream shop.

The planes you use are shaped the way they are because someone asked what they want the tool to do, how people are going to use it, and how will they be able to maintain it. If you think to yourself how you are going to use your shop in the next few weeks and how you imagine it’ll serve you in 5 years, you can design a shop with the layout, comfort features, and infrastructure that will do all those things in a convenient way.

In this article, I’ll walk you through my thought process of how I arrived at my current layout.

Fast Fixes for an Under-Performing Workshop Layout

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I thought I had the perfect design. Everything seemed to flow, tools were arranged ergonomically, and everything had electricity and a dust collection connection.

Then I used that design in real life.

Most things were exactly what I imagined they would be like, but there were a few deficiencies I couldn’t ignore…

Wiring Up Your Shop

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Are you tripping over power cords? Do you worry about what you’ll do when you buy a 240V table saw when you only have 120V outlets? Are you routinely tripping circuit breakers?

As part of your overall woodshop design, assigning each tool to a circuit and positioning outlets to handle your current and future layout is one of the first steps…

How to Draw Your Shop to Scale the Easy Way

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The Lazy Woodworker’s Guide to Drawing

Will chicken scratch drawings be good enough to design your woodshop? How will you know if stuff fits?

When you get a new tool, do you put it into the nearest clean area? What if you could re-do your shop’s layout from scratch, knowing that it’s well thought out?

If you draw your shop and all its contents true to scale, then you can plan most things on paper first without having to drag your tools across the shop. Of course, try it out in real life after you’ve worked out your basic design, but you can immediately see if you have room for a particular tool if everything is drawn proportional to each other…

Wake Up, Brush Teeth, Shower, Drink Coffee, Design Session, Lunch

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Design Time as a Routine

How many ideas have you collected? How many magazine pages have you flagged? “I better bust out the notepad and sketch this so I don’t forget about it.” Are you using these ideas? Have you noticed that when you sit down to design a project your ideas just flow?

This design time is something that you should make routine. This way you can focus all the ideas in your brain archives onto something specific.

You know what works for you, so just do more of it! I like to go to a place where I know I can’t watch TV or have my attention subdivided such as a coffee shop…

New Tool in the Shop: Powermatic 701 Mortiser Review

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This may sound sacrilegious, but I’ve long avoided mortise and tenon joinery. I’ve used lock-mitre bits, dado-based joints, biscuits, dowels, traditional and machined dovetails, and most recently pocket-hole joinery for a cabinet. I’ve done a few mortises out of necessity with my router, but it was such a pain I just avoided it and designed stuff using other joints. Well, now that I’m building a planer cart out of machined 4×4 stock, the most appropriate joinery to get the look I want is mortise and tenon.

I did a few of the mortises on my router table, and then said screw this. The newest addition to my shop is the Powermatic 701 mortiser.

Is the Last 5% Taking 95% of Your Time?

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A Time-Hack for Woodworkers.

This question could be asked about a lot of things in life, but I’m asking this about your workshop design. If you’re suffering from paralysis in analysis, you may know the feeling. I’ve spent a lot of time developing my ideal woodshop on paper, doing tons of research, diligently taking notes while in my various shops, and I still feel like it’s not done or exactly the way I want it. Is there a way to just get started and actually implement it?

Musical Machines

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Go Mobile with All Your Tool Stations to Add Instant Flexibility to Your Shop.

Organize Your Design Drawings Like an Architect

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Drawing your workshop design on scratch paper might seem like it’ll save you time, but it will cost you. Organizing your drawings will ensure you’re thinking of all the things you need to build an effective shop. Plus, it doesn’t really take that long to set up your drawing sheets. It’s mostly copy and paste. Really.

The 1 Way To Arrange Your Tools

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Don’t Copy—Instead Use Basic Principles to Arrive at Your Ideal Shop Layout

The Value of Temporary Solutions

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Get your Shop Functional First, Even if it’s Not Perfect. Then Use it to Optimize Your Shop!

Shop Space Where You Are – Part II

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2-Car and 3-Car Garage Woodshops

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