Bench Room Reorganization

I spend at least 75% of my time in the workshop in my bench room, the rest of my time either in the adjacent machine shop or outside in the yard either turning or power carving.

Of the time spend in my bench room, probably 90% of that time is spent in one area about 4′ x 2′. That space is in front of my Tucker vise. So it makes sense to have all my most frequently used hand tools central to that location. I recently spent a few days reorganizing my tools to give them all homes, make them more easily accessible, and in close proximity to the vise and workbench. To do that, I had to rethink my entire bench room. I had some stuff just being stored and it was eating up prime real estate, so it got moved further away to make more room.

I invite you to check out my shop and you gladly accept the offer. I open the door and turn on the lights. In the center of the room you see the massive bench that my dad built. It may not be pretty, but it’s rock solid and that’s the most important thing for a bench to be. At the back left corner is the sliding glass door which leads to my machine shop, where all the dust is generated. The clock on the wall straight ahead hasn’t worked for years.

You walk straight forward into the room and turn to your left and this is what you see. The breaker panel for the shop supplies 220V power to my big machines in the other room as well as a couple 110V circuits. Directly below that is my stereo system. I’ve wired the two speakers so that they each play mono. One speaker is atop the wall-mounted cabinets and the other is in the machine shop. Running the wire through the wall protects the unit from dust. To the right, I’ve built a set of plywood boxes to store plastic divider boxes (think Plano) and they mount on French cleats. These boxes are scattered around my shop. My Tucker vise is at the very left of the frame.

You turn a little more to your left to look at the most used area of my workshop. At the center, my Tucker vise is mounted to the bench. Behind it are my scrapers, hand planes, marking and measuring tools, joinery saws, glues, and other frequently used tools. Overhead, you’ll find project parts and supplies and some tools used less often. To the left, I’ve got my Taig lathe and Leigh dovetail jig stored on shelf brackets and a shelf which holds my battery chargers and my hide glue pot. Then there’s my drill press and a smaller bench with a metalworking vise on top. This bench is used for any metal work including sharpening. It’s next to the door you came in through and it takes a conscious effort on my part not to accumulate stuff on top of the bench. Above, I’ve rigged up a shelving unit suspended from the ceiling to hold long, narrow pieces of wood.

You continue walking around the big bench and look further to your left and see where I store wood that is acclimatizing to the indoor environment of my shop. Before making it inside, the materials would have sat, stickered on 7′-long, covered skids in my yard, then brought loaded onto the lumber rack in my machine shop to gradually lower the moisture content. The black-painted sign and mirror hanging on the wall are two projects I completed in grade 9 shop class. The pair of pocket doors lead to a guest bedroom, which would be used to store mass amounts of lumber and projects in progress if I had my way.

You finally make it all the way around the bench to the heart of the shop. You peer under the bench and see shorter off-cuts arranged by species. My cordless drill and impact driver sit on the upper shelf along with a staple gun which should have been put back but for some reason hasn’t.

I proudly pull out the chisel tray that I build under the bench top that holds my utility chisels, carving gouges, and paring chisels. It’s located close enough to the vise to be easily accessible, but far away enough that it’s not in the way.

I love my shop. It’s pretty organized, but there’s always more to do.

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