Making the most of a small workshop
In an attempted to make the absolute most of my ridiculously small workspace, something I think most woodworking hobbyist can relate to, I have decided to break down my shop and start over.
The decision was made quite suddenly after having to continuously navigate my cluttered workshop. A feat that often resulted in an irritated woodworker aka, me.
I figured that the only way I would be able to once and for all optimize my <3x6m (10x20ft) space was by building one workbench that could accommodate all of my most used equipment.
Equipment such as:
- A table saw
- Miter saw
- Dust collection
- and a range of hand-held power tools
In addition to all the equipment, I wanted to add centralized power distribution to get rid of all the extension cords. I also wanted the bench on wheels so it could be moved around but most of all, I wanted easy access to everything.
On paper, the idea seemed solid but actually achieving it would take a good amount of planning. An obstacle such as installing my miter and table saw without them clashing would be one of many that needed to be overcome.
After about six revisions of the original, I finally reached a design I would be confident building and the proses of creating my ultimate ALL-IN-ONE woodworking workstation began.
Over a series of installments, I will share the process I followed in building my workstation and sharing the dimensions of each stage for reference purposes.
Note that many of the dimensions are subject to the corresponding equipment and these would need to be adjusted to suit different makes and models.
PART 1: Frame and bench top
The instructions that follow are intended to be considered along with the visual instruction provided by the video above.
Before I could start adding equipment to my woodworking station I needed to get the basic framework up and on wheels.
This would consist of a base frame, some partitioning, and the bench top. The assembly of which will be described in this post.
Step 1 – Base frame
The base frame was assembled using 75x35mm (1.378×2.953“) construction pine that was run through the planer for a better finish and assembled using m8 (5/16“) coach screws that were sunk into the wood.
The base was to be my reference point for the rest of the stage 1 assembly and therefore enjoyed special attention in ensuring it was assembled correctly.
The center brace was installed at a 20mm (3/4“) dept that was equal to the thickness of the plywood I was using. Some of the base panels would later be installed on top of it allowing it to sit flush with the top of the base frame.
The crossectional support will be added by the paneling installed in the next step.
Step 2 – Partitioning and paneling
Besides being the central support for the bench top, the paneling installed in this step would also give more cross-sectional support to the base. In addition to this, it created the cubicles that would accommodate the thicknesser on one side and the miter saw on the other.
The miter saw and thicknesser will later be installed to fold away into these cubicles when they are an obstruction to the table saw.
The two larger panels had small cutouts made in the center at the bottom allowing them to slot over the base center brace and attached from the bottom in addition to being attached to the sides. The mid panel, however, was cut slightly shorter allowing it to sit flush with the top of the other two while being placed on top of the center base brace.
Step 3 – Corner posts and paneling
The last step before the bench top would be installed was adding the four corner post along with one last piece of paneling.
The post was installed using the same lumber as the base frame to support the corners of the top while the paneling would be the divider between the compressor and the table saw that would be installed in the next stage (PART 2).
Before continuing to the next step I installed eight heavy duty casters (50kg/110lbs each) to handle the load of the bench when all the planned equipment would be installed. Four of which had brakes.
I installed these at this stage while the bench was still light enough to tip on its side.
The wheels were spaced to distribute the load evenly with the four breaking casters installed under the corner post allowing accessibility.
Because the center brace does not sit flush with the bottom of the base frame a spacer needed to be installed between the brace and the caster.
As for the side casters installed in the center, a spacer was installed on the inside of the frame to support the entire caster base plate as this plate was wider than the lumber used to assemble the frame.
Step 4 – Fit top
Stage 1 of the ALL-IN-ONE woodworking workstation would be concluded by fixing the top to the already assembled skeleton of the bench.
I used an 18mm MDF board for the top of the bench.
Doing this had a number of advantages.
- The smooth surface of MDF would create very little friction when moving pieces of wood over it. This would be especially useful when the table saw and thicknesser is installed.
- 18mm MDF is strong and would allow me to use a single seamless sheet for the top.
- MDF is easy to work with as it cuts and machines easily without much wear on your equipment.
The bench top is fixed from the top to the corner post and the paneling using screws that are countersunk into the top. This will prevent the screws from scratching or damaging any stock that gets moved over the top of the bench which is, again, especially important when using the table saw and thickness planer.
Stage 1 – Complete