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

# 816
Michael Panzano
Sewell, NJ

Welcome to my shop.  It was 2 years in the making and, with the help of my local Woodcraft store which supplied 90% of the equipment, it has become a place of creativity and enjoyment.  The size of the shop is 24’ wide by 36’ long and is attached to our house via a small vestibule.  The ceilings are 14’ high and the shop is heated by an under floor radiant system, and cooled with its own central air conditioning system.  It is divided into 3 rooms which include the main shop area, a dust collection and air compressor room and a paint room.  The shop is supported by its own 200-amp sub-panel which is located in the shop itself. The shop also features a wonderful combination of natural and artificial light, which makes painting and finishing a dream.  Wide vistas of beautiful farmland are available from every oversized window.  And the facility includes an oversized, overhead garage door and staging area for materials coming in and projects going out.

The facility features 14 custom built cabinet units with melamine and oak countertops.  All power tools are connected to a 5 horsepower Oneida dust collection system via insulated metal ductwork.  Power tools located in the center of the shop are connected to the system through under floor ductwork, eliminating the concern of the safety hazard caused by exposed flexible pipe on the floor.

Of note is the highly accurate Kreg straight edge system which connects the Delta radial arm saw, and Delta 12” compound mitre saw.  The shop also features 13 handmade jigs which augment the flexibility of the Powermatic table saw, Delta radial arm saw, Steel City band saw and Powermatic drill press.  These are all housed in custom-built cabinets maximizing all available space in the shop.


I purchased the Safety Speed Cut vertical panel saw for large projects and extended the Powermatic table saw’s surface for more manageable sized projects.  The shop also contains a Delta sanding center, Powermatic planer, International dual drum sander, Porter Cable dovetail jig, Delta 5 horsepower shaper, Jessem router table, Legacy Ornamental milling machine, Jet lathe, Powermatic mortising machine, Kreg clamping table, Penn State scroll saw, and a vast array of small power tools and hand tools.

Most tools are situated near or on custom built cabinetry which houses bits, chisels, hardware, blades and maintenance items.  Two heavy-duty air filtration systems collect fine dust particles missed by the Oneida system.  Additional jigs for project assembly are supported by more than 100 clamps of various sizes and shapes.  Wood storage is accomplished using Woodcraft wood racks and contain various exotic hardwoods.  The wood racks are adjacent to the plywood storage area.  Most tools are easily moveable and the circuitous layout of the shop allows for a natural flow from cutting large plywood panels through to milling intricate details.

Woodworking has been my lifelong hobby and my shop was my lifelong dream.  I give away all of my projects to family and friends.  For me, the enjoyment is in creating replicas of 17th and 18th century period pieces and, more importantly, the process of visualizing a desired outcome and achieving it.


Judges Comments
CB : Wow. This is a top contender. I can't think of much more you could ask for in a hard-working small shop. Great lighting, dust collection, high ceilings. It's certainly in a class all its own. I'd move in today.
JH : This shop is at the top of my list right now, another good candidate for the magazine.
JH-W : This guy sounds like a passionate woodworker. From the photos, it also appears like this shop has a plethora of potential shop projects, but we'll need more pics, or a visit, to suss them out. I'd definitely like to pay this guy a visit and learn all that I can.
PA : Impressive. Although this is still a relatively small shop at about 850 square feet, it contains many of the features of larger industrial shops. It has just about all of the equipment you would need to produce great work, as well as ample light, efficient dust collection, and well organized storage. Running the dust collection ductwork through the floor for the centrally located tools is a real plus, eliminating the need for vertical stacks. The 14’-high ceilings make for easy handling of long boards and large panels, as well as ample room for the ceiling-hung ambient air cleaner. This guy went all out, with the radiant floor heating and central air conditioning—expensive propositions for most of us, but certainly lending to a more inviting atmosphere. And the separate finishing room is something many of us would envy. The machinery is well placed except for the jointer, which is too far from the tablesaw for efficient lumber processing. Although we don’t see the jigs here that are mentioned, I suspect that there are more than a few worth checking out. This shop has a lot of merit, and I’m guessing that some nice work leaves its doors.

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