Saturday, May 29, 2010

Workshop Reloaded, Version 5.0

I have used several versions of the Oldwolf Workshop over the years. The first incarnation was a nice basement shop, about 15 foot wide by 25 foot long area, a nice big space that I utilized, but not necessarily efficiently. I was still learning. I haven't been able to find any real pics of that shop, documenting things like that never occurred to me at the time. In fact documenting my work at all only started around a year ago, when I joined Lumberjocks and started up this blog. I really like keeping up on the recording what I've done and how I've accomplished it both in photo and words, it allows me the chance to go back and revisit an idea and see what changes I've made, or even re-experience the process a little.

Then we moved across town.

My second incarnation Version 2.0 was a combination garage / basement shop. I kept the main area of the shop in a 2 car garage and worked there 3/4 of the year, then I had a small workshop area and workbench in the basement where I did some smaller joinery work and carving and small stuff during the colder months. Here is where I began to get serious about my woodworking.

Then we moved from Wisconsin to Maine.

Here, in Version 3.0, I went back to the basement again. This is probably the most well thought out shop and my favorite set up so far I have had yet, It was here I built my first real workbench, and set up a smaller shop than others I had used before, only using a little more than a quarter of the basement, but it was the most efficient shop I have run to date. Everything within a couple steps of everything else. Now I had downsized some equipment and what not to make the move so I had less to fill the shop as well. You can see some pics of that version in older posts on this blog and also on the family blog I kept up while we were in Maine, click HERE to see it. The biggest downside to this shop, and something I don't miss, is that the basement had 1 plug for the whole area, located over by the washing machine. So I worked with one long extension cord across the basement and under my feet all the time. Is it any wonder I started to become more interested in hand tools while we lived there?

Then we moved from Maine, back home to Wisconsin.

Long story made short, There's no place like home. Here we moved into a small 2 bedroom upstairs apartment in a duplex, with a small 5 foot by 9 foot storage area at the bottom of our steps that became Version 4.0 a.k.a The Woodshop Jr. I caught the hand tool bug a little while we were living in Maine and here I have been able to focus on really learning to use them. That is the positive of the shop. The negative is the size and limitations. It drives me nuts most days, as does the too small living quarters for my family of five.

Now we are planing to move again.

We have been aproved for a nice, big 3 bedroom apartment in some new construction in LaCrosse, It's inside an downtown apartment complex way up on the fifth floor above the city. (5th floor is way up for the city of LaCrosse) the positive, more room for the family, the downside no room for a shop, To the rescue, like a superhero, comes my dad, "Papa Wolf". He has a large size steel shed he built in his back yard back in '01, it's the size of a small trailer house. He has used it for a shop of his own and storage space, but he recently decided he wanted to relocate his shop stuff to the basement of the house so it's closer and more convenient for him, especially in the winter.

Knowing that I was in this predicament, he offered to let me use most of the shed to set up my shop, and gave permission for me to cut some holes to install a wood burning stove so I can work there year round. This is going to be an interesting experience for me on several levels.

One, I have never lived in one space and had my shop more than 100 feet from my bed. This means that my shop time will be easier to focus while I am there with less distractions, but it will cut down on my ability to "take 5 minutes" and do something quick. All in all I think that this will be a good stepping stone to the eventuality of starting my own shop / store and making a living doing custom woodworking, which is the eventual goal here. The trick will be deciding an amount of hours to dedicated to the shop and sticking to it, say 16 hours a week, two 4 hour days after work and one weekend day. That seems like a reasonable balance between hobby and home.

Two, I will not be setting up one shop for this project, I will actually be helping set up two shops, mine and Papa Wolf's, Mine, of course, mostly dedicated to woodworking, His being more of a general purpose workshop, but he has plans, he was talking to me about what he wants for workbench set up yesterday. (hmmm...I wonder how many workbenches one would need to build to be on par with Chris Schwarz?)

Three. I will be setting up wood burning stove that I have hailed around from place to place for years, doing this safely in a wood shop will be interesting as well as planning out measures to deal with condensation and other problems in a shop that will not be consistently heated in the winter, just intermittently when I'm there. Shop wiring and lighting will be a hurdle to deal with as well. Lighting is a constant issue when moving to a new shop, but wiring will be a new one for me.

And there will be several more hurdles I'm sure, but hands down it will be good to be into a new shop soon, I miss my table saw some, but I miss my full size workbench more. I have spent several hours thinking and planning what to do with the space, and though there will changes, I have a starting plan, probably for the first time ever :)  I spent a couple hours playing with a great online shop set up tool put out there for free use from Grizzly Tools, The drawback for me is that the tool footprints they have are all their own tools (duh) so those thing do not fall out exact to what my stuff is, But I was able to get it very close. Here is what I have so far

You will see in the plan one of Papa Wolf's caveats for using his shed. . . that I left room for him to park the riding lawnmower. I can push it out while I'm working and there will be no problems with this I'm sure.

If you want to check out the shop planning tool for yourself, even just to play around you can click HERE,  I may even try to play around with this on SketchUp before I'm done, It might be a good starting place to learn how to really use that tools as well.

The following pics are progress shots from working with Papa Wolf on clearing out some of the shed yesterday and getting some stuff from the house to the basement. To see the before pics you can check out my post showing them here. 

Cheers

Oldwolf

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