A workshop castle

Dan Martin’s shop has a place for everything — and for everybody. “We have had seven people in here working at a time. Everybody has his own spot he can work at,“ — Dan said. Those seven people would be members of the Woodworkers of Central Ohio (W.O.C.O.) club, based out of Westerville, Ohio (total membership: around 150). They make things like wooden toys, chair lifts for an arthritis foundation, and, each month, about 200 to 300 toy items for hospitalized children to paint.

When the contingent working in Dan’s shop is ready to put things away, they encounter some other impressive numbers: 98 storage bins, 31 shelf areas and 38 drawers with full-extension drawer slides — all of them labeled.

“I like that the drawers and everything arc easily accessed,“ Dan said.

Dan’s also pretty proud of his 30′ x 26′ shop.

After retiring from a position repairing industrial machinery for Ross Laboratories, makers of the baby food formula, Dan might have wanted to build a cool shop — but first, he had to finish a house project. During the time it took to expand his house from 1,500 to 2,400 square feet, Dan had to move everything out of his garage and into the shell of what is now his shop building. “Everything was in boxes and storage bins. I could barely use it.»

After the approximately two-year house project, «1 came back to complete the shop. It took me about nine months to a year to build the wall cabinets, do all the drawings, figure things out.“ Dan hired some help with the construction and carpentry work, but did all the finish, electricity and heating work himself.

He included five windows for ventilation and uses two wall-hung, high-volume fans in the summer. Heat comes from a 100,000 BTU gas overhead propane heater. The shop itself is a stick-built building with R57 insulation and 5/8″ drywall. “It’s cool in summer and easily heated in winter,“ Dan said. “It almost never gets below 50 when I turn the heat off.” He also chose to use double doors instead of a garage door lor access to the shop, due to the better insulation provided.

You’ll find similar, well-thought-out details throughout Dan’s shop. For instance, he’s goi a ceiling air filtration system in his shop, and he uses the sides of it as a place to hang squares, Japanese hand saws, etc. Also mounted up there are a couple of electrical outlets: Dan says his shop has 20 duplex electrical outlets, some of them ceiling-mounted pull-downs to keep wires out of the way. He also made sure to put them around and above his workbenches and outfeed table.

The photo at left shows the 5′ x 5′ outfeed table that Dan made out of two thicknesses of 1,5″ high-density particle board, with a Formica» top.

“The Formica makes it easy to clean up after a glue-up.” he said.

The outfeed table, in turn, is located in the shop close to Dan’s 3′ x 9′ maple workbench. “My friends and I like the workbench areas,” of the shop, Dan said, citing this one as a favorite. «It’s unusual in that there are cabinets underneath the workbench. I didn’t want it open on the bottom; I wanted additional storage areas, and to make it easier to clean around.”

What does this mean for the bench dogs? Dans bench dogs still go all the way through the maple top, but they open into what he calls a “clear-out” space between the benchtop bottom and the drawer tops. “Things fall through into an open shelf area, but it does not let dust go into the drawers,” Dan said.

Next to his table saw, Dan has built a router table, which is also enclosed for dust collection purposes. And he built a fence, for use on either the router table or table saw, with built-in dust collection.

His infeed table slides over the table saw angle irons and up to his Biesemeyer fence. “I can rip an 8′ piece with a fence to hold it,” Dan said. The 10′ shop ceiling also helps accommodate large pieces.

Also near his table saw and next to his workbench is Dan’s radial arm saw. During one of the shop sessions with his club, “One of the guys was complaining about the saw not retreating all the way back, so I put in a counterbalance,” Dan said.

That worked well — but not all of his ideas have turned out as well as he’d hoped. Dan put his dust collector in an area of the shop cordoned off behind glass shower doors. «One of the reasons I did that was that I was hoping it would reduce some noise. I don’t know if it was that effective. But it does work real well as a second filtration system for fine dust,” he said.

He also built one of his shelves largely to protect his dust collector pipe — after he put a small dent in it with some wood.

Overall, Dan says he’s very happy with his shop: «I’ve enclosed a lot of tools, so I can easily clean and sweep around them,” he said. «I like having access to all my stuff. My pipe and bar clamps are easily reached.” With his shelves and removable bins, he can take supplies to where he’s working.

but «I don’t have to leave anything sitting out.» he said. “Its always clean.”

Its attractive, too, with the cabinets built from 3/4″ plywood face framed with walnut, 3/4″ walnut banding for edges 011 drawer panels, walnut paneling for the storage bins and a walnut wainscot wall partition in back of his workbench. “It works kind of nice,” he said.

Also, “I wanted to have real good lighting in the shop,” Dan said. He put in 18 two-bulb fluorescent fixtures, with some point-of-use lighting for areas like the radial arm saw and band saw. “It seems to be effective,” he said. One of those fluorescent lights is plugged into a power strip into which Dan plugs all his battery chargers. The idea is that, when he charges one charger, he will charge all of them — and the light shines into the room to remind him the chargers are on. “This prevents me from forgetting to turn the power off 0n the chargers so that the battery life will not be compromised due to overheating,” he said.

Any plans for future shop additions? “I’ve spent a ton of money on the shop and the house; that’s enough. I don’t think of adding on,” Dan said. He did, however, add a caveat: “Except for tools. My last addition was a Festool dust collector and an R090 sander. Plus I buy a clamp every now and then. You can never have too many clamps.”

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