My Garage Workshop

In common with many other UK woodworkers, I do not have the luxury of a separate workshop, my home does not have a basement and so I needed to make use of my garage. The fact that I like the car to be put away every night meant that I needed to maximise on the space and make some things adaptable, so that the car would still fit. This brought limitations, but I've overcome most of them. Since retiring, I decided to permanently set up the right-hand side of the garage with woodworking machinery. The left-hand side remains dual-purpose, but that's a small price to pay, as it makes sure that the shop gets swept up each time it's used too!

When we moved to this house in 1998, I was determined to put the cars in every night, as we had not been able to do so at our former house, which affected their condition. From the day we arrived here, I achieved that, unless a furniture project prevented it by reason of size. One that certainly did can be seen here.

Also in view is one of two flap-down benches, plus a variety of storage cupboards and shelves, one of which is angled into the far left-hand corner. The curved object at the end is the patio umbrella, in its winter storage home.

Although it's not obvious from this picture, the whole floor slopes upwards towards the rear. The overall rise is about 100mm (4") over about 6 metres (20 feet). No problem when siting machines across the width, but anything sitting parallel to the side walls needs adjustable feet.

Here's the right-hand side "at rest." My mobile base for the Ryobi BT3000 Table Saw can be seen at the front (a frequent "dumping ground" and sometime assembly bench too). Apart from the tools and accessories used with the saw, it also houses my air nailer, my block plane, all my saw blades, a heat gun, tool manuals and a number of jigs. The construction of this base can be seen here.
Just inside the left-hand side door is a re-cycled kitchen cupboard, which houses my 6" random orbit sander, some odds and ends used for sharpening and my Swiss-made biscuit jointer. Hung beside it are a couple of roller stands, a fire extinguisher and a selection of sanding discs.
Above the left-hand flap-down bench is a shallow storage unit that holds most of the bits and pieces I use for assembly. The flap-down tables are both fitted with a Rousseau router insert and track for a miter gauge. This gives them the greatest flexibility. The original purpose of the initial flap was as an alternate position from where I built it - in front of the right-hand side workbench. The restriction I found with that was the length of stock I could pass through the router was determined by the width of the garage. Now I can pass anything I'm ever likely to need to and if a really long job comes in, I can now use the second flap, which is fitted on the central dividing wall, on the right just inside the left-hand door. Both tables are also pressed into use as stands for my dovetail jig and morticer. Now that I've got two flaps (both on removable-pin hinges), I can use several tools simultaneously, which is a real bonus. The flap nearest the door will still fit to the front of the right-hand side workbench if needed.

Also in this picture is the electric consumer unit. I re-wired the garage with its own ring main (eight double outlets) and a dedicated ring for the large saws, which was a really good decision.

Next is another shallow shelving unit which contains stains, finishes, screws, etc. I can't look at a bare section of wall without wanting to use the space! Also seen are an old Bosch sander and my Makita jigsaw - it's not often used, but very good when needed.
The space in the corner was pressed into service with another shelving unit and a diagonal shelf used to store my sliding compound mitre saw (Makita LS1013). Above the SCMS is my original Nobex mitre saw and my sharpening system sits out of the way on its own little shelf.
In the other corner of the left-hand side is my scroll saw on a stand. I saw this tool when I was ordering my lathe, as it's made by the same manufacturer. Although it's not used daily, it certainly does a great job. The three-legged stand is ideal for my slightly un-even floor as it is easier to position level.

Behind it, tucked under the workbench, is an Italian 90litre, 142psi oil-less compressor. This is really quiet when running and the large tank gives loads of air tool or spraygun time. I didn't realise how useful having an airline in the workshop was going to be - now I wouldn't be without one!

(Updated July, 2006) The final storage cupboards on this side are mainly, but not exclusively, for router stuff. The white cupboard contains felt pads and polishing mop for my ROS, a depth-setting gauge, a variety of router bits, sub-bases, cutters and bushing system for my dovetail jig, a scraper, morticing bits and service tools, forstner bits, a respirator, ear defenders and my original ¼" Elu router - still used, especially for rounding-over jobs.etc. The MDF cupboard contains my main routers (a ½" Triton 3¼HP and a ½" Triton 2¼HP) - for a review, see here for the larger machine and here for the smaller one. It also contains the router bits most frequently used, acoustic ear-defenders and a full set of guide bushes.
Here's the inside of the main router storage cupboard.
Moving to the right-hand side, at the far end is a workbench that I built from timber that my predecessors had left behind. The left-hand side of it stores my morticer (see here for modifications to the base), bench grinder, chargers for the cordless drills and my dovetail jig and Isoloc™ template set.
The right-hand side of the bench houses my old faithful mains-powered impact drill, a spindle stock centering device, the essential coffee machine and an old radio/tape/CD player - good company whilst working. One of several jigs is visible (panel-raising with tenoning jig behind), together with my full-face turning shield. Beneath the bench is storage for short lengths of stock, drawers and shelves, an Alto power washer and a 250mm (10") planer/thicknesser (on a mobile base).
Against the central dividing wall sits my lathe, with its electronic variable speed control mounted on the wall. I made the stand for it myself, using pressed steel ends from the supplier (see here for details). The lathe has 1,015mm (40") between centres and a 405mm (16") swing above the bed. The bowl-turning arm, in conjunction with the swivelling headstock, allows items of up to 760mm (30") to be turned.

Both the headstock and the tailstock are hollow (2 Morse taper), which was a major consideration when deciding on purchase. I had looked at other variable-speed lathes, but was not happy about hanging everything directly off the motor armature.

This 1HP lathe has three speed ranges (belt change takes seconds), giving full variable speeds of between 90 RPM and 3,000 RPM, forward and reverse, with no loss of torque. The lay-shaft bearings are adjustable, should the need arise. I'm absolutely delighted with it.

Opposite my lathe is this Jet 510mm (20") bandsaw. This is a really big beast, taller than I am and weighing in at 260Kg (570 pounds). It took seven to get it into the garage, as it is taller than the garage door opening and had to come in "on its back." Like the lathe, it sits on variable height anti-vibration feet, due to the sloping floor. The 2HP motor called for a dedicated power outlet and this can be seen on the left of the picture. My table saw is also set up to use this outlet. The fence is a delight to use and the saw is capable of re-sawing stock up to 320mm (12½"). This was my "retirement present" to myself, after continually struggling with a smaller, underpowered benchtop bandsaw. So far, it's handled everything I've passed through it with ease, including oak tree trunks.
Having been delighted at the quality of the Jet bandsaw, when I decided I needed a drill press, it wasn't too hard to decide which one. This also sits on variable height anti-vibration feet (sloping floor!), via a couple of oak stretchers. I made a table for it, as the supplied cast table had rounded sides, so clamping guides to that was a pain.

Behind the drill press can be seen the (supplied) folding stand for the sliding compound mitre saw. The clamps hang off a length of right-angled aluminium that I had been given to use as a straight-edge. Also seen is my dust extractor. I would really like to fit ducting and have something a bit more powerful, but I just can't justify the cost, as this unit just about handles my current needs.

Opposite the drill press, my oscillating bobbin sander sits on its own shelf. This is a very quiet and smooth machine, but - like most bobbin sanders I've seen - although you can invert the loading when the bottom part is worn out, you can't get at the middle section.
A little time and ingenuity soon solved that! This interference-fit jig increases the table height by 50mm (2"), allowing that elusive middle part of the loading to be used. It also has an adjustable sliding pivot point built in, in case I need to sand to a perfect circle. A couple of bits of MDF, some scrap softwood wrapping and a very self-satisfied smile!
When the shop is in "working" mode, the mobile table saw wheels across to the left-hand side, as shown here. I can use it where it's stored, providing the workpieces are not very large, but for full-size sheet stock, or to use the extended ripping capacity, this is where it's used.

Also seen in this picture is the second flap-down table on the right-hand side of the entrance. Having this extra router table facility allows for very long lengths of stock to be dealt with if necessary.

So, I try to make the most of the available space. The house faces south, so I get the sun shining in on good days. With the coffee on, the CD playing, I'm quite happy with things as they are!

Links to Other Woodworking Pages
Building a BT3000 Mobile Base Modifications to a Dedicated Morticer Base
Tablesaw Kickback Explained Common Woodworking Joints
Biscuit Jointers - an Overview Routing Tips for Beginners
Imperial to Metric Measurements Drill Press Speeds
Wood Screw Size Chart Metric Thread Pitch
Woodworking Projects Using a Worktop Jig
Kitchen Cabinet Considerations A Custom-Built Kitchen
Pen Turning - The Process Glossary


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