My existing bench solution, seen in the pic to the left in grey, is more of a set of sawhorses with a few planks draped across it. Call me old fashioned but I like to call a spade a spade, as it were. Don’t get me wrong, it serves a purpose, it “fills a hole”, so to speak, but I really think that I can do better. That said, I drew up this bad-boy. My modular 8′ high by 8′ long one-piece cabinetry solution.
It’s got it’s own independent wiring and a 4′ double 32W fluorescent under-cabinet light shining down 30″ to the surface of the desk. These units are attached to the walls using french cleats mounted between the vertical posts (of which you can see five in the rearward image, which act as a load-baring spine to support the cabinets, in combination with 1/2″ (3/4 MIGHT be overkill, here) sheathing. The entire monster is laid out on two sheets of plywood, the seam for which can be seen in the front-facing image, and the double french-cleats will provide any additional support required to ensure structural integrity.
Above each unit, every 8 feet (~2.5m) along the wall I will have a duplex receptical box (a double plug-in) approximately 2′ off the floor. Each unit will have an interdependently wired system of power distribution that ports to a pair of duplex boxes and a light switch that controls the plugins as well as the 4′ long under-cabinet light. Since I am the only one of maybe 2-3 persons that will be working at this shop (as opposed to a high school woodshop class), I am not afraid of overloading breakers. In any event, I would have each of the two walls on two different, appropriately breaker-protected circuits.
The cabinets, as shown, span 8 feet and are 4 units wide (~2′ by ~14″ tall and 12″ deep) and two units high. I’ve done it this way for a few reasons. Not many containers that I’d be using would be much bigger than a 4L jug of finish, or a 1 gallon can of paint. Appropriate cleaners and similar can all fit in that profile. Anything larger will be stored on top, in the 3′ span between the top of this unit and my roof. Each cupboard will have it’s own side-hinged door, and will be appropriately labelled for the category of contents held within. I am going above-and-beyond for storage so that I can effectively isolate different storage spaces for different purposes; but more on that shortly.
There is a 30″ clearance between the upper cupboards and the bench top below. This bench is 24″ (600mm) wide, and will be appropriate for small unit work. I have also designed into this unit the possibility for the middle two drawers below the bench to be removed, and a recess made that would occupy the same space. Such that a tool, such as a mitre saw, or a bench top router table (as wide as 4 feet) could be installed in that recess and be appropriately shimmed using spacers to be flush with the bench top. When several of these units are mounted adjacent, the effect would be a vast span where a board could be laid, lined up and work be done upon it without the need for additional supports like saw horses with top-mounted rollers.
Without the depression, there are 8 drawers (4 wide by 2 high) on full-extension drawer slides with a maximum contents clearance of 7″, a width of 22″ and a depth of 24″. The top drawer could be removed and a new face plate installed to provide additional drawer height; but there are already larger drawers are installed below, 4 across, at 14″ tall, rather than the above 7. My logic was that there could be a tool (Say for arguments sake, a cordless circular saw) in the bottom deep-drawer, and the two drawers above could contain the accessories, like additional blades, maintenance equipment, etc. The drawers below the optional depression in the middle of the desk below the 4′ light could also function as dust-collection, with a small shop vac in one drawer, activated by the light switch on the under-cabinet-right to suck the dust away from the saw and deposit the dust in the adjacent cupboard for easy clean-out.
Each of these 8′ x 8′ stations would serve a different purpose. One could be a charging cabinet, with all the wiring and the upper cabinets modified to simply be slot-loading battery chargers (I do enjoy cordless tools), and an assortment of these tools (as many as 8 larger ones) could be stored in the large drawers beneath. Another unit could contain all my sharpening stones, including sandpapers, wet stones, dry stones, diamond plates, with upper cabinets containing honing oils, fresh water, cleaning supplies, etc. A unit containing a lathe could have all the appropriate tools right at-hand, while a mitre saw unit could have all the blades, as well as various appliances for tuning the machine.
It may be a little grandiose, or a tad elaborate for a woodworking shop, but this will be my home. This will be where I spend 40-60 hours per week in my off months, which will number as many as six or seven per year. It will provide a supplemental source of income, and a place to teach what children we hope to someday have. If I am to expect to do professional work, I have to look, feel, and provide the part to myself and my clients. These units are clean, they are consistent, regular and will last two lifetimes. They are designed with task-lighting, independently controlled power system, modular storage solutions with lots of flexibility and can be built with a minimal assortment of tools. A table saw with a crosscut sled for the sheet goods can do 99% of the work in very short order, I’d suspect.
It’s not about having the best toys, to me, it’s about having the best use of available space, and avoiding collecting junk in your/my shop. A modular 8×8′ unit that has the engraved brass plate (courtesy of my new CNC router) of “Sharpening Station” will make short work of location questions of whatever teenager students I bring into my shop to teach them some of the things I’ve learned. Shiny labels also look clean, organized and professional, even if the owner is not. My father taught me from an early age, “Buy well and you buy once.” I’ve taken that and extended it’s meaning to, “Build well, build once.”
Bare in mind that I am unsure as to the unit cost of this bad boy… I can ballpark 7 pieces of 2x4x8 would run me nearly $20.00 and what I can only imagine to be as much as 6-8 sheets of 1/2″ plywood (maybe $300), and 2-3 sheets of 1/4″ (I’m thinkin’ $75)… Throw in the light fixture, bulbs, wiring, switches, etc (About $100.00) So at a very rough ballpark I could build one of these for about $500.00 plus maybe 2-3 heavy days to do all the work. I can probably fit… 6 of these in my shop. Each one to a dedicated purpose, clean, regular, consistent, sturdy and tragically over-built.
I open the floor for discussions, questions, comments and concerns; on the condition that we keep it nice and polite. I’ve always believed that “The freedom of speech must be buffered by the burden of tact.” Now bring it on. 😀