Greg’s Steel Shop

Shop Tour -
Added on April 16, 2009

This Viewer Shop comes from Greg. Check it out!

pa110409My shop shares a 30′ steel building with a guest suite, laundry area, tractor, 4-wheeler, welder and all the other stuff you would expect to find inside a barn. The shop itself is concentrated in one corner of the barn but, with the exception of the guest suite, I am free to spread out and take over the rest of the space if a project demands it.

p1170470Other than hiring crews to pour the slab, bolt the steel together and spray foam the whole thing, we built the barn ourselves which allowed me to get downright picky with the details. For instance, the electrical circuits in the barn are many and the shop area runs off a sub panel that is right next to where I hang my shop apron and ear protectors. The first thing I do to start my day is lift the apron off its hook and flip all the breakers on. The last thing I do is hang my apron up and flip the breakers off. That way I know the various chargers, the radio, air compressor, dust collector, all the large tools, even the shop lights themselves, (Lots of lights with provision for even more!) will not get up to no good and create a mini Chernobyl while no one is there.

In the front corner of the barn where my shop area is concentrated is a 7.5′ storeroom. This gives me 24″ deep shelves on one side and a little bit of bare wall for hanging fixtures and jigs on the other with a comfortable aisle between.

p1170475There’s a fixed bench with drawers and overhead cabinet backed up against the outer wall of the storeroom that provides quite a bit of storage as well as work surface. This bench, my rolling workbench, the table saw, and the router station were all built to have a finished surface height of 37″ which makes handling large pieces pretty simple. My faithful tool cabinet, which is the oldest shop-built piece I have, conveniently hangs on the wall next to the fixed bench.

p1170474Like everyone, I drool over massive cabinet saws, but like most, don’t have the budget, so I turned my contractors saw into my version of a cabinet saw by building a base with some storage and plenty of extension tables. The whole thing is on 6 heavy locking casters but in practice I dont move it. Placed as is, opposite the fixed bench, I can rip a 10′ board by starting with the far end resting on the fixed bench and placing a couple roller stands or my rolling workbench in between. The swing-up out-feed table is long enough to balance an 8′ cut without needing additional support though I can roll the router station into position to act as even more out-feed table if necessary.p1170471 I can also make as much as a 52″ cut to the left of the blade by removing the handle on the jointer fence. Just in case I do move the saw, dust collection is arraigned so that I can hook up to either end of the cabinet. In practice a short length of 4′ hose stays permanently attached between the left side and a dedicated port.

p1170477My primary work bench is a maple top I purchased and set on a shop built cabinet with locking castors. Usually the rolling bench stays right where it is in the photos, but if I need the space I turn it 90 degrees and roll it between the table saw and fixed bench. When pushed up against the table saw, there’s plenty of room between the two benches to work comfortably.

The jointer might look a little tight, jammed in there between the wall and the table saw, but in practice it works just fine though it is on a roller base so it can be moved if I need to. For small pieces I use the router station right where it is. Larger work requires me to roll it out away from the wall a couple feet. That strange little room beside the router table, houses my air compressor and dust collector. I built this space around a Delta 1hp unit with garbage-can cyclone collector sitting beside it. The Delta was adequate but eventually I decided I needed a larger unit (To quote Tim Allen ?More power! Arh arh arh!”) In order to fit everything in I had to take the new 2hp Grizzly apart and hang the motor/impeller assembly from the wall above the garbage can which now sits in the motor’s rightful place on the mobile base.

I have a number of baking racks on casters that I use as project carts. Just steps from the shop area I have a laundry tub with first aid and eyewash station and the bathroom, with large shower, can be accessed directly from the shop as well as from the guest suite. (We have slide bolts on all the doors to prevent accidental encounters!)

My shop isn’t perfect, I don’t expect any shop ever is, and there are a few self inflicted (Read bone-headed!) design flaws, but every time I open the doors in the morning I can’t stop grinning because I can hardly believe its really mine.