Sam’s Garage Woodshop
Submitted by Sam Wiltzius from Marquette, MI
Added on June 11, 2015
In the summer of 2014, my wife and I thought we’d give home ownership a try. Amazingly, we hit all the must-haves on our checklist and I started prepping for moving the shop out of our rental’s basement.
I pre-built some 30 brackets for hanging dust collector ducting and pre-fabricated the hardware for two lumber racks. After moving, I upgraded the garage lighting by installing 11 light fixtures, each with four T8 daylight bulbs (33 watt/2500lumen). Next was the dust collection, and a lot of time sealing air-gaps with metal tape and drilling for pop-rivets. In my obsession to reduce dust, a box fan combined with a furnace filter was even mounted near the dust collector on the ceiling to further reduce fine particles that the dust collector misses. The fan turns on whenever the main light switch is on and the dust collector is on a remote operated outlet. Also, a cyclone pre-separator is one of the upgrades slated for this Fall. The two lumber racks are constructed of 1.25” angle iron and Douglas fir 4x4s and have exceeded my expectations for capacity. One advantage of the 4x4s is that they sit on the concrete sill so the wall studs are relieved of any load bearing.
One neat feature is in-floor heating throughout the house and garage provided by an outdoor wood burner. I enjoy some recreational math from time to time and was able to calculate our wood burner at about 47% efficient at turning wood into heat; which is actually really good for this type of system. This allows me to heat the workshop to 65°F without a noticeable effect on firewood consumption. Another benefit to in-floor heat in the garage is a nice warm and dry floor. We get a lot of snow in Marquette, Michigan, and the family hauler that shares my garage space brings a lot of that slush into the garage. This added water led me to purchase some neoprene cord protector/concealers and use silicone caulk to create barriers to channel the snow-melt away from my shop and into the floor drains. A dehumidifier also runs year round to keep the humidity stable.
All of the large machines were acquired from my Godfather, who had purchased them over 10 or more years. He sold them at a reasonable price and passed on a great hobby to me. If not for my Godfather I’d still be several years away from putting a shop together. Getting a whole shop at once also allowed me to invest in improvements, and every machine got a tune up. The router table got the most love, and received an Incra positioner mated to the fence, under-table dust collection, a quick-change collet, and a new frame for the table. From there I constructed zero-clearance inserts for table saw and miter saw and started getting into sharpening. The last and most significant upgrade was a helical cutter head for the planer.
The main workshop is separate from a side room that I use for glue-up and finishing. The workbench is a beam and base type detailed in a Fine Wood Working Magazine article and has been superlative for its ease to build and versatility. One side of the beam is homosote and the other is melamine. The tool cabinet is the pride of the wood shop and features dovetails, raised panels, shouldered tenons, mortised hinges, a bunch of magnets, and some nifty bit-blocks. With the snow melting and my winter projects wrapping up, I added some up-high shelving, organized tools and supplies, and vacuumed (it looked so nice afterwards I thought I’d take a few photos so I remember where everything goes).
With a warm and dry shop, bright lighting, clean air to breath, and tuned-up machines, I’ve been more productive than ever. My wife also appreciates the fine woodworking that is starting to fill our house, especially the black walnut TV stand built this past January…now if I could just find another ol’ timer with $1/bd ft. black walnut for sale.