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

# 814
Randy Sauer
Sapulpa, OK
My wife and I recently built our home and decided to build a detached shop/garage where I could continue my woodworking passion after several years of living in an apartment. The shop measures 20' x 30' with a loft upstairs to provide space for wife's stained glass hobby. Oklahoma weather convinced us to include central air/heat for year-around enjoyment, and I added ample lighting and power outlets for functionality.
In order to maximize floor space, I centrally located my workbench with my floor tools arranged around the shop perimeter. Not shown in this photo, is a stairwell area that is divided into two spaces. The shorter space houses my central vacuum system that helps minimize the noise, and the other space is for clamp and supply storage.

Here you can see the stairwell portion that houses my central vacuum system (short door). I used 4" PVC piping that routes along the wall to six blast gates branching off to my primary tools. Each gate is controlled by a tool vibration sensor for automatic on/off. My overhead dust collector also aides in dust control. I built the maple top workbench out of 8/4 poplar and color-schemed it to match my JET tools...the sliding doors in front of the bench offers easy access to my table saw accessories. Since I often build small intricate items, the granite table next to the bench is ideal for those precision assemblies. My wall cabinet above my router table was built to provide quick access to my router bits and tool accessories.


This photo displays my sanding station located next to the overhead door. The last dust collection blast gate leads to my drum sander with the other two sanders having gates going to a Shopvac. Bins under the bench also provide tool accessory storage and can be purchased from any storage container company. I incorporated dust hose quick dis-connects and mobile bases to the floor tools to easily convert the shop into a usable garage (Oklahoma hailstorms are frequent!). It takes about five minutes to complete the conversion.

I built several small cabinets around my drill bench to utilize the available space for storage. The wall cabinet has sliding shelves for easy access to bits, and the cabinet under the bench stores my organized biscuit/dowel supplies. Several plastic totes, available at your local Walmart or K-Mart, are labeled accordingly to wood species..this helps with scrap segregation. Behind the drill bench is the other half of the stairwell space where I store my clamp and finishing supplies.

I utilize the corner niche for my "planning" area. The floor cabinets are pre-fabricated and the above cabinets I built to fit the remaining space. All the cabinets and bins in this area help me easily locate fasteners, hardware, and various sandpaper grits. You can also see from this angle my wood stock area consisting of oak shelves and a mobile wood cart.
I started wordworking at the age of 10 with my dad, and now that my 10 year old daughter is excited about woodworking I have a great shop to teach her in.

Judges Comments
CB : I like this shop a lot. Bright walls, lots of light, and decent storage. One thing that scares me is the position of the "brake pedal" on the mobile bases of the tablesaw and especially the jointer. I think I'd be tripping over them constantly. It's definitely a shop I could work in.
JH-W : The plastic tote solution certainly keeps things tidy. I like the walking space between the tools, but I'm left wondering about the shop's work flow. Crosscutting, jointing, planing, ripping seems to require a lot of footsteps. This shop is well on it's way to becoming a "Top'er," but like a fine wine, I think it may need a few more years to reach maturity.
PA : This is 600 square feet of very well organized space. The machine placement is sensible, with the tablesaw in the center of the room and the joiner off to its side. I’m guessing the workbench is the same height as the saw table, aiding in support of long boards. Having a small granite table for precise assembly of small items is cool too, and although it’s higher than the saw table, it’s placed off to the side to prevent interference with long stock being ripped. The cabinets in the niche offer clean, protected storage for smaller tools and supplies, while machine accessories are placed close at hand next to the appropriate tool. Lots of drawers and cubbies keep small parts and supplies organized. I also like the partitioned bin for lumber “shorts.” This might not be an ideal shop for regular building of large projects, but you could still do a lot in here comfortably and efficiently. Overall, I think this is a sterling example of good small-shop layout. A couple quibbles: It’s convenient and necessary in a small, convertible shop/garage like this to put machines on mobile bases as was done here. However, it’s potentially dangerous to orient the lever/pedal toward the operator’s side as you see in these photos. It might make moving the machine somewhat easier, but it’s a tripping hazard while working with sharp spinning cutters. The tablesaw dust collection hose laid across the floor is also a drag (heh heh), but can’t be avoided without running a pipe upward and across the ceiling.

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