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

# 815
Patrick Jaromin
Naperville, IL

My "dream shop" is a roughly 22' x 14' addition to the back corner of our "typical suburban house." Entry is made through 6' double doors at the back of the garage. A 32" square trap door near the front of the shop floor grants access to the 4' crawlspace - used for storage and running power/duct work and control wires - underneath. Central shop air is provided by a 20Gal. horizontal compressor in the crawl space. There are (4) 120V/20A, (2)220V/15A, (1)220V/20A and (1)220V/30A electrical circuits providing power. A subpanel in the garage is fed by the main house panel in the basement.

To maximize wall space, there are no windows. Natural lighting is provided by 2 large skylights in the 12' tall cathedral ceilings. A small, sound-proofed, externally-accessible "closet" houses the 2100CFM dust collection system.

In this panorama of the north wall you can see the garage entry on the left and the rear exit on the right. The metal cabinet and shelves to the left act as storage for adhesives and finishing supplies. A slop sink next to the cabinet comes in handy for cleanup. No shop is complete without a first aid kit seen here hanging from the back of the front entry door. A couple magnetic bars hold my collection of screwdrivers, chisels and rasps just above the assembly table.

I've added a cast iron Bench Dog router table to my Craftsman tablesaw. By reattaching the old laminated extension to the right hand side, the total surface is roughly 72" long. An older 1-3/4" Oak top serves dual duty as table saw outfeed and assembly table.

Two of my favorite tools can be seen on the right - my 17" Grizzly bandsaw and 24" dual drum sander.
Cabinets and a countertop with t-track for stop blocks run the length of the entire south wall. The drawers provide significant storage for both power and hand tools. Just above and out of the shot is the 6" S&D pipe that runs the perimeter of the shop at the ceiling line that is joined by the green 4" S&D pipe drops seen here. On the left (rear wall) you can see my floor sweep hooked to the dust collection system, along with straight-edge clamp storage along with storage for some of my smaller clamps and my Craftsman RAS. Underneath the far left countertop is space for a future mobile assembly table, currently occupied by a simple wooden table. The open compartments below the RAS house my tablesaw, RAS and CMS blades.

To save space, the 6" jointer (lower middle) tucks away under the countertop on a shop built stand that rides on tracks in the floor. The gate for dust collection is located above the countertop. A small doorbell button, hooked into a custom-built control circuit is hidden on the underside of the countertop to activate/deactivate the central dust collection system. 5 more of these buttons are "scattered" in inconspicuous locations throughout the shop.

Here you can also see the wood pannelled walls and hardwood flooring featured throughout the shop.
The south west corner is the "media nerve center" of the shop. A combo TV/DVD player is available for viewing my collection of "Woodworks" episodes. Below that, an LCD display and sliding keyboard drawer attach to a computer tucked away in the cabinet underneath. A dedicated gigabit switch in the crawlspace feeds broadband internet access to the PC, allowing me to participate in my favorite woodworking forums and sites during the design and build process. An amplifier connected to the TV and computer, feeds their audio to (2) 6x9" speakers in the ceiling. Here you can also see my screw gun and battery charger station, fastener storage, Ridgid sanding station and fire extinguisher.
Here's the view from the front door. The air filter hanging from the ceiling is controlled via a 6-key keypad (not pictured) that also controls all of the shop lighting as well as the 300CFM exhaust fan (in the ceiling behind the air filter) and the dust collector and compressor. As mentioned above, the dust collector is also activated/deactivated by momentary doorbell switches. Whenever the collector it turned on, the air filtration system is also automatically activated. When the collector is turned off, the filter stops after a 5 minute delay.

At the extreme left edge near the top of the picture you can see my retractable air hose which is fed by a valve/filter/oiler combo just to the left of the shot.

Here you can also see the skylights, florescent fixtures, ceiling fan, loft and some of the track lighting I've installed to provide additional spot lighting for specific operations. Long pipe/bar clamp racks hang on the back wall and a 1/2 sheet of $10 "tub wall" makes for an excellent and very inexpensive whiteboard.

The entire construction process is chronicled at my blog:

Time lapse videos of various aspects of the construction may be viewed here:

Judges Comments
CB : Very nice layout in a small space. Too bad we can't see any details of any jigs or fixtures but it's a "top shop" in my opinion.
JH-W : Nice cabinets/countertops. Skylights not only provide light, but would be a good way to deter thievery.
PA : A masterful example of compact efficiency. A lot of thought went into designing this small shop. It seems to have about everything except spare elbow room. The electrical, dust collection, and computer systems are impressive in themselves. The wall-length cabinets include drawers and cubbies of different sizes to accommodate lots of tools while protecting them from dust and damage. And installing a table router in the tablesaw wing makes perfect sense here, as does employing the workbench to do double-duty as an outfeed table. I just wish I could see the track system he uses for sliding the well located jointer out from its cubby. Because the space is a bit tight, I would have incorporated a window between the radial arm saw and chop saw. It would let in more light and help prevent claustrophobia. The wall paneling is homey, but I would paint it white to bounce more light around. (But, hey, it’s his shop, not mine, and it’s a fine one anyway.)

Show Previous Entry Show Next Entry
Return to Index
© 1998-2019 by Ellis Walentine. All rights reserved.
No parts of this web site may be reproduced in any form or by any means
without the written permission of the publisher.