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Tiny Woodshop? Setup Advice

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by Farwesterner1, Nov 20, 2020.

  1. Farwesterner1

    Farwesterner1 TDPRI Member

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    Our house has no garage or workshop space, just a carport covered with wisteria.

    I'm planning to build a 120 sf woodworking shop at the end of our carport. 8 feet x 16 feet.

    Any advice or resources for setting it up? Great videos of small woodshop tours? I'm planning to install a 4'-2" barn door so in theory I can move plywood in and out, and I'll also probably invest in an inexpensive band saw and maybe drill press.

    I have two specific questions:
    1. how to deal with sawdust and shop dust? and
    2. how to use the shop as a spray booth, given that I'll also be doing sanding and sawdust-producing stuff inside?
     
  2. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    My work area is lacking size, as well. If you are not in the habit of putting items away as soon as you are done with them, it is a new skill that you will get used to. Small spaces clutter up quickly.

    As far as painting in a dusty environment goes, you can minimize the hazard of fouling your space by plumbing any machines for a dust collector, which could be as simple as a wet-dry vac outside the wall. Then, when it's time to start spraying, clean the space, let the dust settle for a day, then dampen the floor before you start spraying. You may need a small space heater to keep the space warm enough for your finishes to properly evaporate the solvents contained in it or prevent orange peel.

    Dedicated work space is a treasure. Good luck & have fun.
     
  3. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Tools on wheels. All my tools are on wheels in the small bay of a 3 car garage I can pull the cars and fill the whole space up with tools.
    .
     
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  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .



    Ben shows off his backyard workshop in this video



    Dust: Get a Shop Vac (even the little ones) and build a 'Thien Separator'. You can find general designs on youtube. I sandwiched a five gallon bucket as the "separator-separator" between the shop vac's top and bucket as the attached picture. Others tend to use a separate bucket so you have the vac+bucket on a cart to push around taking up more space. You might create a little enclosed bin on the exterior of your shed to house a fixed shop vac and separator over a trash can and then have a port in the wall with your hose to attach to whatever equipment you are using inside. There's a guy selling a bucket topper at hardware stores that patented the Thien design around the original Thien developer who shared the concept with everyone. There is also the Dust Deputy.
    There are many variations of builds https://www.instructables.com/Thien-Baffle-for-Dust-Collector/

    [​IMG]

    As for the rest of the equipment: shop Craigslist.
    A good drill press is an important first purchase, Get one with a 12 inch throat, likely a bench topper size. Check for bearing side to side wobble.
    Oscillating drum/belt sander "Wen" is pretty good as a new purchase, it replaced my Home Depot one that went out.
    12 inch bandsaws are pretty common and easy to find on CL, some guitar builders cry about needing a 14inch minimum (but they also cry they need custom shop guitars...). Get several blades thick and thin. Resawing you may need risers on the bandsaw.





    Dig through Izzy Swan's channel, he has a lot of great ideas, like this quick workbench, or a flipping tool table.


    Another bench option

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnNi6Tpp-ac

    I have a 4x8ft rolling workbench to take out on the driveway topped with formica, inset table saw, flip up bandsaw, router, etc .. but it's only good in good weather.
    There are a thousand different iterations of this concept, one example.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgpowvG4n4w
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I do most of my work in a 12 x 14 shed. Plan carefully and don't cram too much in there if you want to move around.
     
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  6. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    Ok for full disclaimer I have worked in a 7'x8' shop, a 12'x9' shop, half of a double car garage and a 30x60 shop that was heated and cooled. I have NEVER been able to get my shop clean enough that when I sprayed finish that something did not get into it.

    So here is my suggestion, do your best with dust collection when you are cutting, drilling, sanding, etc. Get a nice size shop vac and hook it up so you can catch most of those nasty wood particles from going into your nose, throat and lungs.

    As far as finishing, go get you one of these. Set it up outside your shop and you will not have to worry about saw dust, bugs or anything getting into your paint unless you bring it with you.

    [​IMG]
    They are especially nice if they have a built in floor, and you won't really need a lot of ventilation if you are not spraying a ton of parts. Make sure to use a mask as some of the spray chemicals are nasty fellas. Set up something like this, run your compressor from your shop on a long hose and spray away. When you are done take it down and store it away for future spraying. You can usually pick up something like this for less than $150 which is well worth it in my mind.
     
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  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    My "shop" is the corner of a three car garage, it could just as well be any other covered space. I have built a total of 27 guitars to date and repaired many more. Some things that make it work

    IMG_4606.JPG

    - for dust collection I have a good shop vac and I clean its filter regularly. I bought a set of adaptors that lets me plug the hose into my band saw and belt sander. Many other dusty operations I simply take outside - I'll do routing or sanding on my random oscillating sander on a little table outside the garage.

    - my "large" power tools that I use all the time are my bandsaw, drill press and belt sander. The stay out but can be pushed out of the way (they are small enough to set on a bench or in the case of the band saw, a roll around

    IMG_4607.JPG

    - the workbench itself is "organized" with most of my lutherie tools at hand

    IMG_4608.JPG

    - one of the tricks to the success of this layout is that I have storage for everything I don't need out of the way. My garage has an attic and I've set up a pulley system that I can raise my Fox bender or ROSS or little table saw or any of my forms and jigs and simply get them out of the way. When I need my go bar deck I get it out of the attic, when I'm done I put it away.

    - same with my wood - we live in a hundred year old farm house that has a great basement that stays 45 degrees and 40 percent humidity year around. As I collect wood for guitars it is stickered in an area of the basement that is also my wine cellar - wine and wood like the same environment. Small pieces of wood are boxed and put away under the band saw - if I need a small hunk of rose wood or something its available.

    - I finish all of my instruments in nitro cellulose lacquer. I have experimented with other products and I would like to find one that is both safer and more environmentally friendly, but I haven't come up with it yet. I have finished in the garage but I don't like to. Most of the time I schedule finishing for a day with the right weather - I can wait a few days - and take it outside. I like to do my finishing with the guitar flat on its back on a low table so I can walk around it and lacquer dries so fast that getting dust and bugs in it is rarely a problem. If I do I just sand them out

    My compressor is just inside the door of the garage, convenient for both spraying finish and airing up tires. Its nice to have the sun light on the guitar as I'm spraying it

    IMG_6200.JPG

    Early in my building career I built a "spray booth" out of cardboard (an old guitar shipping box). I could fold it up and put it away in the attic, it did a fairly good job of containing overspray in the garage but as I said before, I greatlt prefer shooting the guitar laying on its back or top

    IMG_0236.JPG

    - I do the same thing with some operations that create a lot of dust or chips - I take it outside. Most of my power tools are pretty small and can be carried out to a small table - when I'm done sanding or drilling or routing I can just sweep up the dust and chips

    IMG_4621.JPG

    IMG_4625.JPG


    OK, as I said I have built 27 guitars in that little corner and if I may say so, they are pretty darn good. People walk into my "shop" and are amazed that I can do anything, but frankly I would not want much more. It would be nice to have

    - better heat, I have a couple of space heaters and it gets darn cold in the winter
    - humidity control - I have learned to watch humidity and simply not build when it gets too dry
    - more power - I have a 20 amp circuit from my house and there is a bit of voltage drop. I can not run a heater and my compressor or another large power tool at the same time.
    - better dust control - the shop vac works but a real collector would be wonderful
    - more storage - shelves, cabinets, you name it.

    Hope that gives some ideas - its amazing what you can do without
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Something else to think about when putting together a work space is exactly what power tools do you really need. I recently challenged myself by building a classical guitar with as close to no power tools as I could get (I did use a drill press for the tuner holes and a small router for the binding).

    But if you think about options - like have your lumber yard run a body blank on their jointer or find a cabinet maker who can thickness sand your plates will save you the hassle and expensive of buying a jointer or a wide belt sander.
     
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  9. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Regarding your two questions - :)

    1) An efficient 5 or 6 HP. shop vac should take care of most of your needs. A good dust brush, broom, and aluminum shop dust pan should handle the rest.

    2) Considering your southern locale, I'd most likely do my spraying under your "wisteria covered car port" rather than try to provide proper ventilation for spraying, but you could surely rig something up at one end of your 8'x16' space by utilizing a tarp or reinforced visqueen curtain hung from the ceiling. Some way of dispersing the fumes and bringing in fresh air is a must.

    Spraying hazardous and flammable mixtures in a small un-ventilated space is a bad, baa-aad, idea ;).
     
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  10. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Mine's almost half that size so you should be good to go! Not sure about sawdust, you can put in a vac system I suppose. I just clean up now and then.
    I don't spray in there at all and that would be a problem with dust. A hobbyist car sprayer I used to know would clean out the whole shop and wet it down before spraying which eliminates any dust from walking or spray pressure etc.
     
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  11. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Houston?

    3. Humidity.

    If you want to paint and cure inside because of this, you will need industrial strength ventilation capability, in addition to climate control. I'd be far more concerned about paint toxins than sawdust.

    The cheapest and safest option is to just do painting and curing outside on sunny dry days. Which means about two weeks in January in Houston, I'm afraid. :eek:

    EDIT: Apart from the above concerns, it would be easy just to hang and/or cover everything with plastic before painting. Kinda like those makeshift dismemberment labs in horror movies. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  12. Farwesterner1

    Farwesterner1 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks all! This is great information. I really appreciate the photos of your setups.

    Side question: do any of you have a portable table saw setup that works? It's not so much for luthier work, but I'd like to be able to cut 4'x8' sheets of plywood. I suppose I could also use a circular saw with a fence.
     
  13. Alex335

    Alex335 TDPRI Member

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    I too have a super small setup, I'm on my second build, routing electric guitars is messy, get a 6 hp shop vac you wont regret it, even if it's a little big for a small space you won't regret it. For my part I decided to start building acoustic instead of electric cause it's not as messy. My space is only 14 by 10 but I use my shed for spraying nitrocellulose, careful with lacquer, it can be realy toxic and it smells alot. Here's a few pics of my "diy" setup, it's been 3 months now, before that I basicaly had nothing. Covid brought me to lutherie somehow.
     

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  14. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Consider a used Shop-Smith on wheels. When not being used they neatly stow away. If you find one with a lot of accessories you would have everything you need and unlike a traditional saw you can easily move the unit to handle large pieces. Don't consider anything less than a Mark V though.
     
  15. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    Tablesaws take up a lot of premium space. I have a full size cabinet saw with a 4x4 out feed table and a router table built into a side extension- but my shop is 16'x35'. While a table saw is handy for sizing lumber, I would prioritize a small joiner and planer first. Everything on good casters. A good bandsaw and drill press are also necessities IMO.

    You didn't specify your tooling plans, so dust collection is harder to judge. If you're using a 13" planer you'll want an actual dust collector or you'll be buried in shavings real quick. If you run a drum sander, serious dust collection is an absolute must. A good quality random orbital sander really helps with getting good finish-ready surfaces and a vac that's made for them is indispensable (and $$$) IMO. If you go with a full size dust collector, you could house it outside in a small addition (along with a compressor?) and control it with a remote.

    Trying to spray finish in the shop where you machine wood is not a good idea. You risk contaminating your finish with dust, no matter how thoroughly you clean, and getting overspray on your tools. In Florida, I spray under a pop-up like Preacher but still battle gnats and dust. I have the luxury of being able to spray year round.

    Besides eye protection, good ear muffs and a dust mask will save you from irreparable damage you won't regret until it's too late. Oh yes, in Houston (coming from a Floridian) plan on putting in a small air conditioner in the back wall, they use tiny amounts of power and will make your shop habitable in summer and keep the rust off your cast iron tables. Please share pictures of your shop build in progress. -TP
     
  16. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

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    Lovely workshops in here but I tend to try to avoid power tools as per chap above, due to dust. More about my sinuses than being old fashioned

    When I do use a belt sander I carry it outside into my yard. Same with all my power tools apart from the drill press

    There is some Zen thing to working with all hand tools. Paul Saunders, as shown above, does a blog and YouTube on this philosophy. Can be very rewarding if you think of the journey as the destination
     
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  17. Farwesterner1

    Farwesterner1 TDPRI Member

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    Yes, I love this approach. I could spend hours watching Japanese woodworkers construct perfect-fit joinery.

    But I myself am a deeply impatient man—I like power tools simply because they're fast. Woodworking is a kind of therapy to get over that trait. Maybe I need to slow it down even more. Slowness as a discipline.
     
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  18. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    B6A372E2-425F-419A-985D-AE879C13A4EF.jpeg 63695ADE-D7F3-4ABD-99CF-AAC5D41217DF.jpeg
    Can take it anywhere within length of my extension cord.

    EDIT: 4x8? Just bribe a family member to hold one end of the sheet.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020 at 10:46 AM
  19. eclipse

    eclipse Tele-Meister

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    A track saw set can be very good and safe breaking down sheets.
     
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  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I have a small bench top table saw that I bought at a yard sale. It lives in my attic storage area and comes down on the rare occasion that I need it, which is never in lutherie. If I ever have to rip up plywood I use a circular "skill" saw
     
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