America's Top Shops Contest
May 1, 2008
Entry Details

# 627
Robert Dickey
Mukwonago, WI

My shop is long and relatively narrow.  There is an ell at the far end.  Tools are arranged in terms of heavy usage and chip generation, with the table saw and planer nearest to the dust collector, and moving to the sanding and assembly tables at the far end.  Dust collection is via an Oneida 3 HP cyclone collector with steel piping running above the suspended ceiling.  I didn't stint on quality lighting and plenty of it.

This view is looking the other way from the picture above, at the DC and UniSaw that are at the front of the shop.  I like my tools out and visible.  I have two heavy duty magnetic strips on the overarm blade guard that hold my arbor wrench, steel rules, etc.

At the far end of the shop is my work bench, a sanding station on the far wall, and an assembly station.  the assembly station is actually my Festool MFT, so I can convert it quickly for multiple purposes.  I use brown paper on a roll to protect the table top while I am doing glue ups.

As I said earlier, I like to have my tools in sight.  I really like the flexibility of slatwall, but not the price. So instead of covering the walls, half of which would be blocked by tools anyway, I custom cut and framed pieces to fit open spaces near each tool area.  As a result, I was able to get abundant storage out of only 6 4x8 foot sheets. Hooks were obtained from retail store supply sites on-line at a reasonable price.

Judges Comments
CB : I like the efficient use of the narrow space. Good lighting makes it bright and inviting. Looks like this shop has the capability to do just about anything.
JH : This is an okay shop that I am sure the owner can do a lot of great woodworking in. Lots of good dust collection and lighting.
JH-W : Very nice shop--good use of a narrow space--but the only "tip" I could see was the slat wall. Maybe there's more jigs and fixtures to be discovered, but I'm not sure. Seems like this fellow could use more storage; there are quite a few tools on the floor.
PA : In spite of the narrow configuration, this looks like a comfortable shop to work in. It has great lighting and attention to dust control, including the ceiling-mounted ambient air cleaner. It’s nice to see some work in process here too! The slat-wall boards near tool stations provide good accessibility for machine accessories, which is important for efficiency. However, this shop could probably use some cabinets for clean storage of tools and supplies. I love the little workbench alcove in the far corner—a clean, dedicated area for hand-tooling and assembly. I realize that this space is kind of tight, but I would have placed the holy trinity of tablesaw/jointer/planer closer together somehow—at least the tablesaw and jointer, since there is so much back and forth between these tools.

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