Incredibly Busy Summer - Breathing Room and Actual Shop Time Starting

  • Posted on: 20 September 2016
  • By: Jay Oyster

Well, we moved.

I haven't updated this site since July, because frankly, I haven't done a lick of work in, or more appropriately ON, my shop. It needs a bunch of work. I'm just now starting to have the breathing room to do something in the shop, and also to update my website. So I'm back. Hi! How've ya been?

West end of the new basement shop spaceYeah, so we moved into our new house in early June. I have to admit that this isn't my ideal woodworking arrangement. But we didn't buy the house for that. There were lots of pros and cons to consider. This house is our new home because 1) It has a great yard for the kids to play in and for us to put in a garden and me to build a new giant playset for the boys. Because it has a great kitchen we love. Because it feels like a home and not just a nice house. The neighborhood is nice, quiet, and not one of those engineered micro-landscaped developments that seem to be everywhere around large cities these days, but instead feels like an old fashioned neighborhood. The schools have turned out to be great! And oh, by the way, it has an adequate space that I can use for my woodshop.

The shop itself is the north half of the basement; a long thin room about 35 feet long and about 12 feet wide. I get to share it with the furnace and a spare fridge we inherited from the previous owners. Plus a couple giant shelves along the West wall. I'm not complaining about the shelves. Mostly I just dumped all of my tools into the room and left it there until now. My wood collection largely went into the shed in the back yard, a 10' x 10' room now completely stuffed with my wood and two tables . . .one of which is my table saw outfeed table (another story.)

Looking along the length of the shop, from West to East. The furnace sticks out in the middle of the south wall. You can see it here on the right side of the shot.These pictures are from about a month ago. I have made a few small advances since then. I've installed a French cleat on the south wall and hung up my big tool cabinet, and unpacked my good tools into it. That was nice. I finally got my band saw and planer put back onto their rolling bases. I managed to get most of the non-woodworking related boxes out of the room. (That's a huge win compared to my last shop.) 

Overall, the shop will be a bit cramped, but I should have workspace for most of the things I want to do. Now that I've gotten past the big unpacking in the rest of the house, I can concentrate on setting things up down here and hopefully making some sawdust soon. (Speaking of which . . . no dust handling system yet.)  

Here's what I've accomplished so far:

  • Installed a dehumidifier. Noticie I didn't say 'the' humidifier. During the move, my old one gave up the ghost. These North Georgia unfinished basements just bleed tons of humidity through the cinder block foundation walls. Until I can seal the walls, and/or refinish with sheetrock, I need a dehumidifier. So I bought a 50 liter/day Frigidaire on Amazon (Thank you, Amazon Prime shipping!) last week and suddenly the previously clammy and uncomfortable 80% humidity shop is now a pleasantly warm 50% humidity room.  I'm still hauling out and dumping about 5 gallons of water from the unit in three trips each day, but I've got a PLAN . . . 
  • I took out the old central house vacuum unit.  (It's a 1980's house. They liked those stupid things back then.) And I have a plan for all of that old solid PVC piping that runs through the frame of the house. The exhaust pipe goes out through the top of the north wall of the shop and previously blew air into the space under the back deck. I'm going to mount the dehumidifier high on the wall where the central vac was and use that pipe to run the drain hose out of the dehumidifer and water the lawn behind the deck.  The drain pipe is gravity-fed, of course, so it has to be above the exhaust pipe. But that'll just keep the unit up and out of my way. (The rest of the home piping for the central vacuum will very conveniently act as wiring conduit for my home network.)
  • Installed more lighting in the East half of the shop, and added new tubes to the existing fluorescent fixtures. I have a lot more shop lighting to put up, but for now at least I have no more dark and dank corners.
  • Put up one of my two clamp racks to the right side of my tool cabinet.

East end of the shopThat's about it, so far. I have some challenges for the next steps:

  • Figuring out an overall layout of the shop. I still haven't done that.
  • I need to get an electrician in and install at least a couple more circuits. I only have power on the south wall, and I think the whole basement is running on only two circuits. Since my computer and networking gear are in the other room down here as well, I definitely need to separate the shop power onto new circuits. The problem? The current panel, which is also located down here in the shop, is absolutely full. So . . . I foresee a new secondary power panel taking up more wall space in the shop.
  • My outfeed table (remember that thing?) is out in the shed. Not by choice, mind you. We've had some challenges with the narrow doorways in the new house. Odd really. It wasn't built in 1883, but 1983. Still the door to the basement would absolutely not allow my shop table nor my wife's stained glass work table from getting through the door. The stretchers on both of those were too far below the table top to fit through sideways. (Tauntingly, they were both only about a HALF INCH too wide, after we tried taking the doors off their hinges and removing jambs.)  We were about to get rain late in the day on our moving day, with both wooden tables stuck out on the lawn. So I took my ryoba to the glass assembly table and hacked off the stretchers to that one. The outfeed table ended up stuck in the shed, with about a ton of wood piled on top. I'm going to have to perform a similar surgery on that one to get it in my shop, and then repair both tables to strengthen the legs. 
  • Once I get the outfeed table in place, I can set up my table saw . . . assuming I can ever find the belt for the motor. Took the motor off to move it and to get the table saw through the basement door, but in the process, we've misplaced the drive belt. Maybe time for a quieter replacement belt?
  • Putting hardware and parts into one of the shelving units.
  • Adding some sort of dust and chip collection system. I've gotten away without it for these last few years, but in the last shop, I think the dust was finally starting to get to me. Plus, I don't want a shop full of dust next to the furnace.
  • And about 4 million other things.  I've really only begun to get things set up. The only real up-side to this situation? I don't plan to move again. Ever.

Previous owner's little shop area, with my long-suffering workbench and cabinet project sitting in morose impatience. Soon, fellas, soon.Along the south wall in the West end of the shop, you can see the pegboard and small bench I inherited, and my long-suffering big projects (still unfinished after all these years.) The workbench top leaning up against the wall near the furnace, and my wife's cabinet stuck in the corner, still awaiting it's doors. Soon, hopefully.

I hope to post more often now as the Fall and Winter come along. Each weekend, and now even on weekday nights, I'm starting to get some momentum back. I even have some visions to add to my project list . . things that will fit in the new house. And maybe now I can actually start finishing some things. 

Active part of my projects list. Completed projects on top. Active in the middle. Future work at the bottom. Look at those day counts on my active projects. Absolutely embarrassing.You want to see a secret? I'm going to share what my project list actually looks like right now. I keep it in a Google Docs spreadsheet. I have to. I spend so much time on these projects I would have forgotten what the heck I was working on it I didn't store it somewhere. Anyway, here's my current 'top 10 list' of projects just completed, to be finished, and to hopefully start: