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

# 753
Andris Dambekaln
Virginia Beach, VA

I recently designed and built this stand-alone workshop at my residence in Virginia Beach to accommodate my hobbies and to complement my property.  It was planned and constructed totally by myself.  My first problem to solve was how to design the exterior so that my home design would be complemented.  I used a hip-roof style with a cupola to tie the exterior style of my home to the shop.  My plan was for a clean, elegant style with a lofted and open work area that was well lighted, yet not too big so it would remain rather “homey”.  The structure built on pilings for allowable storage underneath, is platform-style with beams supporting a lofted ceiling inside.  The main work area is 13’ x 26’ with an 8’ x 15’ deck attached.  A door leads to a room, 12’ x 12’, that has a ramp at the entrance and houses some machinery and more storage.  Both areas are accented by double opening doors.  To complement my design intent, I added a 100 AMP electrical service panel which includes two 220v circuits.  Telephone and cable TV are installed.  There is electric baseboard heat and a window A/C unit.  I used oak hardwood flooring and tongue-and-groove Atlantic Coast cedar throughout the interior, which radiates a cedar aroma even before you enter the workshop.

View upon entering the main shop area.  After the structure was constructed, I built tables and shelves followed by a workbench and cabinets.  A refrigerator and photos / plaques for my “been there” wall concluded the decorating work.  I often add length to my six foot table with temporary saw-horses for painting and finishing work.

This photo shows the open and lofted interior from the front entrance.  The door to the left leads into a room 12’ x 12’ which houses my table saw, air compressor, compound miter saw and many other portable power tools, and is where clamps, sawhorses, hardware, wood, etc. are stored.  The five photo limit precludes me from showing this area.  The overhead door on the left leads to a storage area for wood and other materials.

This view is from the back looking toward the entrance of me and a raised panel door that I just completed.  I used my JESSEM router table that is behind my right arm for this job.  It also shows the front deck area that I use to work on as much as possible.  Most of my tools are on mobile bases to allow me to work outside and get the most out of my available space.  That reduces the dust collection and air pollution problems, helps keep the shop clean, and provides me with an enjoyable working environment.

This photo shows an opposite wall where I store some portable electric tools, my small sander and mini-lathe, the drill press, joiner, band saw and planer.  Access to the deck adds to the ease of working in this shop.

My shop is still a work in progress and I intend to adapt to my needs as I continue to use it.  I will install a central dust collection system and route air lines throughout after I do more projects.  At this point the shop allows hard working tasks, is exceptionally functional, easy to keep clean, and a joy to work in.  

Judges Comments
CB : A nice, cozy retreat. I don't walk away with any killer jigs or fixtures, but it is well equipped and appointed for sure.
JH : This place has a lot of eye appeal and good functionality. Don't see a lot of ideas, but I could see working in a shop like this and really enjoying it.
JH-W : A smaller-sized shop, but great attention to detail. I like the walls and ceiling as much as I do the workbenches and wall cabinets. Again, I can't tell if there are a lot of jigs and such, but I think this guy's pursuit of an attractive and smart-working workshop puts him at the top of our offerings.
PA : Nice having a deck area to work on in good weather, especially for sanding since there doesn’t appear to be any dust collection in the shop. Very inviting, with the ample lighting and T&G walls. The commemorative plaques, chairs, stools, and refrigerator along the rear wall almost give this room a club-like atmosphere. A charming little shop, but lacking in any features that other woodworkers could incorporate into their own spaces. It’s too bad that the gentleman opted to include a photo of his ceiling instead of his other machine room, which might have been of more interest.

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