The Workshop.

The Workshop:

I have posted about it in the blog entries, but I felt a real need for a single, linkable page that I can come back and edit when I make changes instead of going back and forth to old blog posts.

A fair warning to anyone just stumbling on this. When I do a shop tour, I tend to get wordy. So bear with me, hopefully I will make this worth it to you.

For starters, my shop is known as "The Amish Heritage Workshop". Hopefully the reasons are obvious enough.
I mostly picked it as a name to give my shop that served multiple purposes.

First, and foremost it is a tip of the wide brimmed plain hat as it were to my own ancestry / heritage. Next sort of screamed quality wood working, and lastly, I wanted a name / logo would make a nice makers mark.

I have designed a makers mark that I am now using for the shop logo. I like it anyway... I may one day enlarge the makers mark / logo and use it to make a woodburning template and make a proper shop sign out of it...

I ran across the design of the Amishman straightening his hat in a hip hop sort of gangster pose on a T shirt design somewhere online. I would give credit if I knew where to give it. If anyone can clue me in I would be more than happy to provide it. I have updated / majorly changed their design, and am not planning on using it commercially, just as a way to identify my wood projects, so with any luck I won't run afoul of copyright here. I believe I am well within permissable usage here, but I am pushing it a hair... I may need to design my own Amish guy... I was just being lazy.

I have several times grown out my own Amish beard as it were, but my wife isn't all that crazy about gray beard hairs, so she keeps on me until I shave it off...

If that expression doesn't say I need wood shop therapy
nothing does!

Now the shop itself, is an attached 2 car garage in a 1980s home, meaning those 2 cars they intended must have been early 80s Toyota Corollas or Honda Civics. Floor measurements are 20' long, including a 2' step up shelf, so really 18' of parkable car area, x 18' wide. There are 2 overhead roll up doors making using this space for full size trucks impossible, and even mid size cars difficult. There is a small 2.5' deep x 5.5' wide setback in the rear corner opening up a few more square feet of floor which is used as wisely as I can manage.  The concrete garage floor is 6' 6" at the shortest part on the shelf, and a full 9' at the end of the slope by the doors. While I don't necessarily mind the shelf, I REALLY want to level the slope out, not to mention the overall dips all over this dumb floor!

In October 2012, I completed a project, okay the electrician completed it, I more or less watched them do it, where my service was upgraded, my main panel replaced due to hurricane damage, and upgraded, and a feed line currently fed with a 60 amp breaker, but capable of 100 amps, feeding into a sub panel in the garage. The sub panel has 3 primary dedicated circuits, all feeding both 110 and 220V power, one for the dust collection and air compressor, I won't be using both of those at the same time, so that was safe to combine them, the next is a tools circuit, again won't be running say the table saw and lathe at the same time in a one man shop, so safe bet there, and the last one runs HVAC.

The walls and ceiling are sheet rocked, the common wall, and powered outside wall is insulated with R13 fiberglass insulation. The overhead door wall due to its smaller void spaces was insulated with expanding foam insulation, and the doors themselves were sealed with gaskets and insulated with 2 layers of R5 rigid foam board with radiant barrier backing. The non powered wall is not yet insulated, but is scheduled to get blown in insulation, which appears to have the same R13 insulation value as the roll insulation, it is just keeping me from having to tear down sheet rock! The ceiling is insulated with R 30 and the attic is getting a radiant barrier installed.

So let's get on with this tour shall we?

Walking in the man door from the house, you first notice the safety and control gear hung from the shop side of the door itself. Here I keep the hearing protection, Safety Glasses, Dispenser for disposable nitrile gloves, first aid kit, ambient air filter remote control, thermometer, air conditioner remote control, and fire extinguisher.

I have yet to finish the build however there are 3 more upgrades pending to this "Safety Center" They are...

  1. Shop Built fire extinguisher restraint mount. Basically a semi circular bracket mounted around the bottom of the extinguisher with attached hook and loop tape (Velcro) to secure the extinguisher from slopping around when the door is opened / closed.
  2. Add a 2nd ear muff set / mount. The one that is there is simply a 2.5" deck screw with about 5 wraps of electrical tape over the exposed thread area to protect the ear muffs.

The current Safety Center.
Improvements pending!

Just inside the door, attached to the right wall is a simple organizer I made for holding brooms and dust pans. I seem to have gotten an army of these things and needed to organize them neatly...

Looking up you see the Grizzly G0572 hanging air filter, and 7 2 tube T12 4 foot light fixtures. T8 fixtures are in the future plans, but won't be upgraded to until I run out of T12 bulbs and I have several cases in the attic. I have been doing research on the subject, and it appears I should be able to convert my T12s into T8s, and end up with some quality ballasts instead of the junk T8 ballasts that come with the T8 shop light fixtures... Probably better off that way. The Grizzly air filter is fitted with Penn State Industries primary air filters. The Grizzly primary filter is not washable and was getting a bit expensive to maintain. The PSI units fit fine, filter at the same rate as the Grizzly paper filters, and are washable.

Grizzly G0572 Hanging Air Filter with Remote

Yes I am aware there is dust on the output vent side
of the hanging air filter, That is what happens when
you forget to turn it ON when you sand drywall!
Otherwise it works great!

As you continue down that same right wall, you see the lumber rack that I mentioned before, It is a very simple, straight forward affair. It is simply a closetmaid heavy duty shelf standard set with the heavy duty shelf brackets 18.5" deep, the standards are screwed directly to the studs using 2.5" galvanized deck screws in every available mount hole. It is quite sturdy.

Below the lumber rack is my messy assortment of sheet goods and cutoffs.
The sheet goods / cutoff cart I had talked about in my post is on my very short list of shop projects I need to keep from killing myself.

Past the lumber storage area, I have tote and lawn and garden storage. I am needing to build a shed to get most of that stuff out of the shop. In full honesty, I would love to leave that stuff there, and move the shop to a roughly equal size but dedicated space. No more potting soil, lawn mowers, and bicycles would be nice! But for now, those things are stowed in the shop.

As we pass the lawn and garden stuff, we are at the overhead door wall, and go straight to the middle divider. We have the HVAC center of the shop.

The HVAC is pretty simple. A 13.5 K BTU portable unit air conditioner is ducted through oversize dryer ducts / shutters between the doors, painted to match the house to keep the HOA at bay, and a box fan is used to help out the puny fan of the air conditioner. Heating is provided with a simple 110V oil filled electric radiator. With the insulation and gaskets as is, this past winter of 2013-2014 has been one of the longest, coldest since I have been in Texas, and the radiator set on the lowest setting with no fan going keeps the shop in the upper 50s when outside temps are in the lower 20s and wet. While summer has yet to fully bloom thus far, the AC seems to easily pull the temp and humidity down rapidly and to a very comfortable level. Our hottest day so far has been 95 outside, and the little AC brought it down to 70 in a couple of hours. Best thing to do is kick it off about 2 hours prior to starting work and just let it go. I should mention that the narrow piece of wall between the garage doors is still in need of drywall work. It is sealed up, but the mud is very rough and it needs paint. I just have had other priorities before making this pretty.

Above the AC and hanging from between the door rails is hanging storage for my large A frame ladder. Simply 2 LARGE bicycle hooks, one run directly into the stud, the other run into a hunk of 2x4 that is in place to lower the hook 1.5" to clear the garage door track bracing. My 10' fiberglass ladder is hung from these hangers.

Between the rails for the door to the left is a simple rope / pulley and eye bolt arrangement holding the 6' ladder to the ceiling. Both are up and out of the way, making for more usable floor and wall space.

Continuing we have a Northern Industrial floor model drill press fitted with a Harbor Freight mobile base. This was a screaming deal on Craigslist. $75.00 for a floor model drill press. It was pretty beat up though. Fasteners missing, rusted, loose pulley, banged up / dented pulley cover etc... The difference in sweat equity made this a fair deal, not a great one...

I set the base wide to stabilize the press and so far it works great! However I am seriously considering redoing this in order to make space for a cabinet to roll over the drill press base. I originally considered bolting the drill press to the floor, I am VERY glad I didn't...

If you look closely to the left wall in the corner between the drill press and lathe you may be able to make out my extension cord winder basket thing a ma jig. I actually have 2 of these. They are called "Wonder Winders" and actually work reasonably well. Sure there is room for improvement in the product, but I like the way they loosely hold the cord, instead of winding it tight around an axle basically creating an inductive heating nightmare... Air flows well through here, and most of the time, reeling the cord back in is WAY easier than manually winding a cord up and trying to find a place to put it... The winder wheel thing could use to be made of grippier rubber material, and there should be some sort of guide assembly that keeps the cord centered on the wheel as it pays into the basket, those could both be very easily addressed by the manufacturer. It IS a helpful shop item, and I really do like them, they certainly are well worth the low price, but it really could be better...
Green Leaf WW-1 Wonder Winder Hand Crank Extension Cord Winder

Floating around the area where the drill press is, unless I rolled it elsewhere, you can find my shop built clamp cart. I house a mess of F style bar clamps, quick grips, pipe clamps, etc... Just a mess of clamps on a quick knock together cart. Works well, just not super pretty.

My rolling clamp cart.

Turn to the left and he wall we are now travelling down now is what I call the powered wall, this is where most of the circuits live.
I have my 2 clamshell storage cabinets mounted just above the 4' height of the outlets. Below the cabinets is my Harbor Freight 12x36 lathe. The cabinets hold the majority of my hand tools, as well as fasteners such as pnuematic nails, staples, bolts, screws you name it...

The clamshell cabinets when I first re-hung them.

Clamshell cabinet loaded with
my Groz hand planes.

The lathe is fitted with a simple plywood shelf that holds my turning accessories.
I plan on building a base cabinet featuring a ballast compartment for 3 80lb concrete sacks, and drawers for my turning tools and chucks, as well a platform and disk to use the lathe as a disk sander. But that is future expansion.

Immediately to the left of the cabinets / lathe is what I call my tool stacker.
Set up similar to the lumber rack on the other side using heavy duty shelving standards and brackets, I have simple 18x24 inch 3/4 plywood mount boards supporting my bench tools including Ridgid sander, bench top jointer, planer, 8" grinder with Woverine jig, and scroll saw.

Clamshell cabinets, lathe, and tool stacker 
with bench top tools. 
The oscillating sander has since been put up!
I have to remove the belt from the sander to put it on here though.

Just to the left of the tool stacker, and above the reverse osmosis system tank is a couple of wall mounted open bins.
The house my extra peg board hooks, as well as. Well... tools for tools. the special spanners etc... for things like table saw, routers etc...

Next is the Harbor Freight 14 inch band saw. I have it fitted with a riser block kit, cool blocks, cobra coil, a Grizzly quick tension release from a G0555, and a Craftsman Professional bandsaw fence. The fence is awful.

This too is on a Harbor Freight mobile base and is working fine.

The hot rodded Harbor Freight Band Saw.

Grizzly tension release in the release position.

Grizzly tension release in the set position.

Lastly on this wall is the Harbor Freight 2 HP dust collector fitted with a Wynn 35A spun bond filter, that is pulling through a 55 gallon Thien style separator with a side inlet. The duct work is split 5x4x4 using the HF wye, and feeding an upper,
 and a lower run. Blast gates are Lee Valley self cleaning aluminum models. It is all sealed up with 3M clear silicone adhesive caulk.

The collector sits on a custom built, and very basic plywood and 2x4 scrap stand made from found woods that were tossed into my yard by Hurricane Ike.

Chances are this was at one time somebodies roof...

Under the collector stand is one of my 2 air compressors. This one a Central Machinery 2HP 8 gallon compressor. This is plumbed to a manifold via check valves into a common line with my second compressor. This gives me the CFM I need without having to have an overly large air compressor in the shop.

Harbor Freight 2HP dust collector
Wynn 35A spun bond cartridge
Thien 55 gallon separator.

Turn left again and you see the Craftsman tool cabinet, with Proto chest. This is my storage for my mechanics tools, screwdrivers etc...
I purchased this new in 1991 to replace a small Snap On tool cabinet that ended up in a friends storage facility when they went bad on the rent...

If you peek under the stand the dust collector is on, you can see a little Central Pnuematic 2 HP 8 gallon 115 PSI air compressor, It is connected to the shop air system...

Keep going down the wall and you will see hidden behind the big bench is the main air compressor. A Harbor Freight 29 gallon 2HP compressor.
I have had it almost 2 years and it has been a beast so far. This too is plumbed into the dual compressor system.

Harbor Freight 2HP 29 gallon compressor
tucked behind mortiser cabinet.
Note the mortising accessory holder built onto
the cabinet side.

Stepping back from the compressors and looking up, actually by now you have seen it already if you were actually in the shop, you see the hose plumbing that feeds the entire shop clean, dry, oil free well regulated air. It took me a considerable amount of time, and a bit of money to go from a basic air compressor / hose setup spitting wet oily air to a clean air supply. I am running

I come in to the inlet manifold, which is simply a 3/8" brass tee, from top and bottom with the feeder hoses from the compressors, one way check valves insure that pressure does not push back into one compressor or the other. A short 3/8" brass pipe nipple connects to a Central Pnuematic 3/8" Air Filter With Regulator, item #68232, I use a Central Pnuematic 3/8" FRL connection bracket / coupler item #68234, and connect the other side to a Central Pnuematic 3/8" Desiccant Dryer with Oil Removal Filter item #69923, I should mention aside from the lack of powder coating, each of these components appear to be identical to big name brand components. The fit and finish is great, and assuming you get decent O rings (yeah you take risks...) these should work for years no problem. On the outlet side of the dryer / filter assembly we come out with a 3/8" brass nipple, and into yet another 3/8" brass tee, and out with female quick connects top and bottom. The top feeds the overhead hose to the hose reel, the bottom is used for temporary use when I need to connect a second hose for some unknown reason...

My Central Pnuematic 50' air hose reel with feed
hose routed through the 2x2 spacer for the light.

My manifold(s), filter / regulator and
Desiccant Dryer / Oil Removal Filter.

The cabinet is a stepped arrangement holding my Harbor Freight mortising machine, and Harbor Freight 12 inch sliding compound miter saw such that the tables work together.
The section with the mortising machine has a tacked on holder for mortiser accessories, and shelves that hold finishes, strippers etc... It is simply a routed and drilled hunk of 2x4 that is screwed and glued on but boy does it work well!
The main section has a lower section that holds handheld power tools, routers, drills, saws etc...And a series of drawers to hold saw and router accessories.

The mortising machine has been modified such that its table is a shop made replacement that used T track and hold downs to complement the OE hold down mechanism which in brutal honesty, is far from the best there is...  The 12" slider is the older model, red motor housing 12" slider that I have attached a shop vac hose to the dust port, and replaced the miserable excuse for stock blade with a Freud Diablo blade. While the saw works quite well now, it took me far too much filddling to get it dialed in, and staying there, and it is just stinking huge, I would LOVE for the next HF 12" slider to have a front rail rig like the Festool, if they could pull it off and make an accurate saw, I would definately upgrade. For now this will have to do. I do want to upgrade to a Hitachi C12LSH, that would give me the advantages of much smaller overall saw footprint, much improved dust collection, and the double bevel. Of course donations would be gladly accepted!

Hitachi C12LSH 15 Amp 12-Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter saw with Laser Guide and Digital Bevel Display

Sliding Miter Saw / Mortiser cabinet with dust hood.
Having the port that far back doesn't help!

Above the cabinet mounted to the wall via a pair of heavy french cleats is a library cabinet built specifically to house manuals,
and woodworking publications.
Originally designed to be open storage, this cabinet is being converted to simple plywood doors to protect the contents.

Old photo of library cabinet. Ignore the bench setup
that has been changed, but the cab is pretty much the same.

Just past the miter saw / mortiser bench is what I had to agree to with my wife in order to get the power project done. I moved the large upright deep freeze out of the kitchen and into the shop. I am not super crazy about it being here, but a deal is a deal, so I am sticking with it... This was always in the plan. You can see from my photos that I set up tool / fence depths such that any stock being fed through the mortiser / miter saw was going to clear the freezer no problem.

A tight fit, but it clears. No issues with stock
hitting that freezer door!

I should mention this, if you notice, I used my 6' Johnson level to double check clearances, and alignments of tables. This is an AWESOME level, that has put up with some serious abuse... It is a bit on the spendy side compared to the cheap resin levels, but trust me on this one. It is worth paying extra for this kind of quality!

Johnson Level & Tool 9872-HH 72-Inch Aluminum Box Beam Level

Turn again to the left and now to the center of the shop, and you see the main workbench,
this is a modification of the Fine Woodworking magazine's Get Started in Woodworking bench, with the top built a full 6 feet instead of 5 long.
The height is matched to be 1/8" lower than my Ryobi BT3100 table saw and acts as an outfeed support.
It is fitted with a Central Forge 9 inch quick release vise. It works, but could be better.
This bench is slated to be redone as I am finding a good number of design features I don't care for.

Sorry, this isn't a great photo, but you can see a little
bit of the lower shelf I added to the bench. It REALLY
added solidity, and useful storage to that bench.

Walk around the bench and you invariably run into the heart of the shop, a Ryobi BT3100 table saw, loaded up with the Wide Table kit, shop made wide table / router table top, shop built router fence, The foot adjusters have been set to completely level this thing off. It is HUGE,
I can crosscut a full 8' sheet of plywood without breaking it down with the circ saw before.
Underneath the extension wing is my 12 gallon shop vac, and 20 gallon Thien trash can cyclone separator.

The table saw. Yeah another old photo. Ignore the 
bench in the background. That is the one that left a while ago...

Not pictured, but recently added throughout the shop are a 3 Traffic Master anti fatigue mats, and one HUGE Craftsman version... Helps somewhat relieve foot and back problems from standing on that concrete shop floor!

That pretty much is it for now. A constant spate of storage improvement projects is always in the works, so keep posted here.
I will be updating, often!


  1. Nice shop; I'm jealous! I have to admit, though--although I like the name, "The Amish Heritage Workshop," I would feel a bit disingenuous putting a mark like that on anything I made, especially if I used power tools. If it's just small personal projects, I guess it's no big deal, but if you do start making things commercially it might be a good idea to choose a different name to avoid confusion. Aside from that nitpick, thanks for sharing! I'm looking forward to reading looks like I have a lot of catching up to do here.

    1. Thanks, and no deception intended in the slightest. In all honesty the shop name was chosen as a tip of the hat to my own family history... Hence the name "Amish Heritage" I was trying to place the emphasis on the latter rather than the former...

      It might be of interest to folks to know that not all Amish completely shun electricity, and in fact those that do not, actually use power tools, primarily pnuematic tools. It is only the most conservative sects that completely shun all modern technologies.

      Not sure if the image link will post here, but here is a picture of an Amish craftsman actually using a corded electric power tool...

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  4. Awesome shop Dave. I have a Ryobi BT3100 and really like the picture of the table extension. Could you please tell me how you made it. Especially since it looks like the fence travels the whole distance.

    1. Robert, I bought my saw used from a member of the forum (now, and the wide table kit came with it. I got the legs from Sears Parts but I think they are discontinued. The angle brackets are simple affairs that came with the saw as well as T nuts, and short bolts / thumb knobs. The top is 2 layers of 3/4" Aracuo ply with 1/8" Tempered hardboard laminated. The router table plate is from Rockler, and I used one of their MDF jigs to route the hole, and I SERIOUSLY messed up when I ran the dado for the first miter slot in it, so I filled the hole with oak if I remember right and then cut the second dado and mounted the slot track. During glue up I just had the glue up on my workbench, with 2.4 cauls on top and clamped down to my bench directly...