Ken’s Basement Retreat

Shop Tour - Submitted by Ken Balatgek from Sinking Spring, PA
Added on April 16, 2015

I’ve always had interest in woodworking, but alas family and career got in the way of seriously allowing me to pursue many projects. I’ve had a rudimentary shop for 9 years with the basic tools – Craftsman TS, Formica counter bench top, etc. Then, Christmas of 2013, my teenage daughters bought me a mortising machine that I always thought I wanted (drilling square holes would be neat!). That ignited a passion in me for woodworking that continues to grow. I love learning about techniques and project ideas online. Marc’s website impacted me greatly (thanks Marc!). And if you look real close, you might just see some Wood Whisperer influence in my shop;). Ironically, the HF mortiser my kids got me really was not very good and has since been sold on Craig’s List, but I’m so happy to have gotten it because it led me onto this path.

A few months back I finished the Roubo split-top bench – what a project! I used a Ryobi lunchbox planer and Delta 6″ jointer for that project (you can still see them in the shop–they will be going on Craig’s list soon). Both machines have been replaced recently with a Hammer A3-31 helical head jointer/planer (great machine!)

Having a smaller shop, I have to rely on nearly all of my machines being mobile. I’ve positioned all of the tools around the perimeter of the room to allow the middle of the floor to stay open for the tool I need to work with to be rolled out. As space is a premium, I also had to become creative with storage. The over-under pull-out vertical drawers work great for storage.

A list of tools I have include a ShopFox TS (with Marc’s torsion box top assembly table built a bit higher to act as an outfeed table), Hammer jointer/planer and band saw, Festool Kapex miter saw, as well as track saw, routers, sanders and Domino, Rigid oscillating stationary belt sander, HF bench drill press and dust collector (yes Harbor Freight–sorry), Jet drum sander, ShopFox shaper and an Excalibur router table with a 3hp Porter Cable motor.

Last summer I also got into lumberjack mode. I live on 12 acres of woodland and have lots of nice mature trees around. I purchased a Hudson sawmill and cut an Ash tree into 4/4 and 8/4 planks that are air drying right now. They are going to be used to build my wife’s new kitchen next winter. I plan on building a kiln dryer this summer to accelerate the process and sterilize the wood. Lot of other species of trees around here.


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