project, Thoughts, Woodworking

New workshop!

So I figured it's about time I wrote about my new workshop. In truth I've not spent a huge amount of time building or making in it yet. I've mostly been doing setup stuff to get myself in a position to make something. When we were looking for a new place to live, I was the cause of some serious complications. I was in a house with a large garage (a little under 7m x 4m) and whilst I did keep the car in it, there was plenty of room for me to have a substantial workshop. This meant the only places even open to consideration to move to required a garage, and even a single garage ran the risk of not really being enough.

When we were looking around this place, I knew it had a garage in a block, and a shed. As we were shown around the house I was favorably impressed, but still wondering about the workshop possibilities. First we saw the garden and the shed. It's a fairly large shed as far as such things tend to go, not terribly tall, and in need of a little TLC, however it did have power and I was musing about whether I'd be able to make a workshop out of it. When the previous tenant (who was showing us around) said 'Well of course there is also the *double* garage'

oh...it's a DOUBLE garage in a block...well, suddenly things started to look more promising.

And so it was, whilst it is in a block, and there is no power directly to it, it is close enough to be able to solve that problem with a long extension lead. Obviously the extension was picked for its ability to handle the load placed by my machines, and with thermal cut off etc.

The double garage is almsot exactly 5m by 5m, and this time there was plenty of parking around so I had no intention of wasting space with the car ;-)

25 square meters of workshop space... but what to do with it? when we moved in all my stuff got summarily dumped in random ways into the garage, filling the space, such that it was impossible to get around it all.

Before really starting to move everything to clear the space I decided to make a sketch of roughly how I could lay out the room.

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With the sketch in place and a reasonable idea of where I wanted things to end up, I set to shifting everything around to try to get a sense of order. It took a lot of effort to bring sanity to the space, but eventually I'd cleared most things off to the edges of the space, shelving filled and tools setup. Leaving just the central islands (lathe and workbench) to complete.

However before that I'd need light!, I had been relying on sunny days and leaving the doors open to get things moved around, but a quick test with my 1 angle poise lamp with the doors shut showed that it would not be anything like enough, even with a few I figured I really needed to install some strip lights.

In the absence of a permanent power supply, I decided to buy 2 strip lights and wire everything as you would for a regular lighting circuit, with 2 lights spaced evenly on joists over the 2 main working areas of the workshop, I wired both into a junction box, linking in a single switch and power supplied via a regular plug with a 3Amp fuse which just plugs into the extension. These two lights make a HUGE difference, immediately I can close the doors and feel like I'm in a workshop rather than just a garage with tools in.

That done I turned my attention to my two planned islands in the middle of the workshop. Where as in my previous garage I bolted my workbench and lathe to the wall, here I didn't want to do that, partly to avoid too many holes in the walls that I merely rent, and partly because bolting to the wall has some serious limitations.

Yes you get stability, a rock solid surface to work with. (Though the lathe still caused vibrations through it's mounts when turning an uneven/off-centre piece.) However you can't work with large items on the workbench, and whenever I tried to do hollowing on the lathe, I was butting my chisel handles against the wall, limiting my movement.

So I was keen to have both as islands in the centre of things, with supporting machinery arrayed around the outside.

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Another benefit, particularly for the lathe has been the ability to create a clamp to hold my dust extractor hose in place behind the lathe bed, positioned to capture as much dust as possible in turning and sanding operations. This is really easy then to switch back and forth between the lathe and the bandsaw.

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So far I've not done any serious operations on either the workbench or the lathe, so I can't see how much either will move/vibrate. I've put in a few bracing pieces to stiffen the structures of both, but it's possible that the workbench will be too light, under the force of certain activities may be inclined to move. Only time and use will tell.

I'm really happy with the workshop, I feel like I've got lots of space to work in, I also found enough space to set up my dart board, which spent the last 6 years gathering dust. So when I'm waiting for glue to cure, or just in need of some contemplation time I can throw a few darts, listen to a podcast. Generally chill out in my man-cave :-)