Michael’s Basement Workshop

I love looking at everyone’s shop! There are great ideas for unique storage solutions, organization methods and floor plans that are helping me plan and build my shop.

My shop’s a 14’x14′ corner of our basement with bulk head access. It is outfitted with a Ridgid chop saw, Milwaukee router and a Ryobi circular saw I bought 10 years ago to repair our first house (a falling apart 1850s era home). For all my home repair needs, which was constant and unrelenting, they did well. When we bought our 2000 era home last year, constant repairs became a task of the past. I decided to spend my new found free time building furniture.

My father-in-law gave me his grandfather’s old Delta tilt-table, fixed-blade table saw. Absolutely love that machine*! So, as soon as I could, I pushed it into the furnace room, searched Craigslist and bought a well used Ridgid contractor saw from a local woodworker. He told me the table scratched, the base was wobbly and the blade and miter tracks did not align. When I got the saw home I noticed that every bolt was loose! I completely disassembled the saw, hand sanded the top, realigned, reassembled, re-leveled and gave it a good waxing. Now it runs like a champ. (*That statement was dripping in sarcasm – that machine is not safe at any speed. Nader wouldn’t approve.)

The out-feed table is also a router table. It is height adjustable and made from 2x4s and MDF. I used aluminum U channel under the table and some wing nuts allow a router plate be leveled and flushed to the table top. I traded a plumber a 12″w x 12’lx4/4 board of Jarrah for a bench top belt/spindle sander and a old scroll saw. My family spoiled me last holiday season and helped me get a Grizzly 17″ bandsaw. I recently installed the overhead Jet dust collector and built a dust separator from an old trash can, left over plumbing parts and a can of spray foam. It’s a lazy separator and only separates about 1/2 of the dust. I’ve been thinking of laying it off and letting it go, but it just doesn’t feel like the right time. It’s a trusted worker, and has been with me since the beginning, but it is missing the skill set required to move the team forward.

Against the “back” wall we installed an old barn door for access to the rest of the basement. Currently it’s flat wall space where I store all my jigs. The jigs in the photo are for a DJM inspired cocktail table. The lumber photo is parts for more tables – family gifts – in different stages of progress. The lumber pile is Jarrah. Awesome story…4 years ago our porch collapsed. I took a risk and bought 200 bd ft of “construction grade Jarrah decking”, sight unseen, for $4 a bd ft delivered. It arrived and was so beautiful that my wife made me rebuild with douglas fir and paint. The order was awful decking material! About 1/2 the delivery was 4/4×10″x12′ the other half was 8/4×8″x14′. My router, circular saw and I would have never been able to make it into decking. All of the Jarrah is straight grained, furniture worthy, rough sawn lumber. I have since found out what Jarrah is worth and realize how lucky I am. I think the price was a 2008-US-economy-collapsing-panicked-lumber-yard special. After the Jarrah arrived, I impulse bought a Dewalt planer and then realized I needed a jointer. So, for 4 years the planer sat on the lumber pile. I still don’t have a jointer, but two months ago I was introduced to a coworker with a really nice Grizzly jointer. We’ve worked out a Jarrah for Jointer [time] exchange.

Matt Vanderlist might have outgrown peg board (podcast 113) but I haven’t. I have two more sheets to hang! My shop is a wreck and I need to build some storage. I am finding out tools are like rabbits, start with two and before you know it they are everywhere and multiplying out of control. I would love to install a lumber rack similar to the metal adjustable ones I have seen in a lot of the shop photos and Marc’s new shop video. Lastly, after beating up my out-feed table trying to chisel out mortises, I would love to build a work bench. But alas, my wife has me on a 3 project at a time diet!


  1. John Fitz February 6, 2013

    Hey Michael, that’s a great shop but even better story about how you started and moved up. The Jarrah score is priceless.

    Re: the planer. You might consider making a planer sled, so you can face joint.

  2. Ryan C February 6, 2013

    Great stories Mike! It’s fun to hear about fellow woodworkers struggling due to limited space and tools (I get the “half” of our two and a half car garage). Cool set up – keep building!

  3. Kevin February 6, 2013

    Fellow New Englander here (NH) and I have that same table saw and air filter in my basement shop. The table saw is high on my list of tools in need of upgrade, but it does the job, even if it does make funky noises when it’s cold.

  4. Bob Natsch February 7, 2013

    Michael : is that a jointer sitting on the stand with the old Delta? It looks like one of theos old combo units but there is no belt attached. It is hard for me to tell from the photo. Good job on the Jarrah! You are very resourceful. Keep up the good work.

    • Mike February 7, 2013

      Yes, the old delta saw has a short 4″ jointer. I have tried maybe 5-6 times to get into working order. The machine will work for a short period before another problem surfaces. Broken knives, rusty spots prevent knife seating, dead motor, bad contacts in power switch, broken belt, fused fence, dust shoot fell apart. I will get it going eventually, but for now, it’s little more than a paper weight. A very large, very heavy paper weight.

  5. I enjoyed your story about your shop. It looks like you have some nice equipment and room to expand compared to my 16′ x 16′ foot space I have.

  6. Eric R February 7, 2013

    Nice shop brother.

  7. Shaun Harper February 9, 2013

    The Ridgid table saw was my first table saw. I outfitted it with a dust collection system at the bottom by creating 4 1/4″ custom fit plywood panels and a bottom. They were bolted in place. The rear panel had to be cut around the motor and belt. The rear panel also needed to be removed when the blade was tilted. I outfitted that panel with wing nuts to make it easier to remove and put back. It worked great. I got the idea from FWW #205.

  8. Rory Moulton February 13, 2013

    Most entertaining shop tour yet! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Joe February 19, 2013


    Have you considered using Phil Thien’s baffle design for your trash can dust collector? I made one for giggles one afternoon and man, does it do wonders. http://www.jpthien.com/

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