Down-sizing (and, perhaps, right-sizing)

Sometimes, smaller is better.  Let me explain.

While at my parents’ house in Rutland County, Vermont on and off during my six-month leave of absence, my woodworking shop occupied two bays in a three-car garage.  It was I think the right amount of space for a shop that consisted mainly of a seven foot workbench, compound double-bevel miter saw, thickness planer, Craftsman rolling cabinet and dedicated sharpening station, as well as a largish lumber rack.  I had room to spread out and I never felt cramped (except when an assembled, drying project was messing up my Feng shui).

Somewhere, Norm Abrams is chuckling.

Which, let’s face it, happened pretty often.

But, as they do, all good things end and I have since returned to my life as a Manhattan-based M&A attorney.  My workbench, miter saw, thickness planer and rolling cabinet are all now living in disuse at my parents’ house in New Haven County, CT.  The closest thing I have to a dedicated sharpening station in my new apartment is a machinists granite slab and a WorkSharp 3000 with its own plastic toolbox.

WorkSharp 3000 does a bevel good

Zero exaggeration

Out of necessity, I am now making due with less.  So let us explore the brass tacks of the new, apartment-based woodworking shop:

Fits conveniently in the dining nook!

The full workshop, again!

At a macro level, my apartment workshop now consists of what you see in the picture:

1.)  “Dining” table with storage below (for more info on the table itself, please see last week’s post, “A Proper Foundation for Woodworking”)

2.)  Rolling cart with Craftsman 26″ Top Chest and matching Intermediate Chest for hand tool storage (more on that next week!)

3.)  30″ Milkman’s Workbench (shout out to Chris Schwarz for all the astounding work he does for the craft, especially at the Chris Schwarz blog and at firmly clamped to the “dining” table

4.)  Saw bench (the excellent 2008 Lost Art Press version; again credit Chris Schwarz) [not shown]

5.)  Two(!) shop vacuums: my trusty Dewalt D27904 Dust Extractor and a brand new Ridgid four gallon portable shop vac (very pleased so far with the purchase)

6.)  A condensed array of Dewalt handheld power tools, including compact router kit and random orbit sander, as well as 20V cordless versions of a drill, jig saw and circular saw

7.)  Other miscellany includes my excellent LED task lamp, a Lie-Nielsen-style saw vise, a shooting board/bench hook (once again, a Chris Schwarz design), various straight edges and squares and other random items.


I should probably also mention the clear plastic bin of glues and finishes and the general purpose tool bag

I am confident everything possible is packed into the limited space, but I don’t feel like I went overboard.  I have everything I need to continue meaningful woodworking in the limited space of my apartment (and it’s not like I was overly reliant on power tools in the first place, having always been sans table saw and sans jointer).

I know myself well enough to say that I will make regular sojourns to visit my thickness planer (it’s much easier to hand plane two sides straight and square and let the machine do the rest), but I am rather looking forward to breaking my miter saw dependence.

One final note: I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what to use as a planing stop on the new “dining” table for stock that is too long to pinch between dogs on the Milkman’s Workbench.  I am certainly not going to bore dog holes and, just as I was about to concoct some plywood monstrosity to clamp to end of the table, I stumbled upon a most simple, elegant solution:


It’s a straight edge clamp!  Duh!

That’s all for today.  I promise that next time I will dissect my tool chests.  I also have a silly little project in process (mostly for testing the capabilities of the Milkman’s Workbench), which I hope to unveil soon.


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