Like kitchens, a good home workshop requires plenty of cabinet and counter space. Shop cabinets not only help keep you organized, but also keep tools, accessories, and supplies safe and dust-free until needed.Ideally, workshop cabinets must be rugged, adaptable, and not complicated (or expensive) to build.
To complement the base and wall cabinets in our workshop and to provide easy access to the hand tools we use most, we designed this perforated hardboard tool storage system to help you stay organized. The system consists of a framed hanging tool board (make as many as you like to the overall dimensions you need) and eight specialized tool holders made from scrap maple and perforated hardboard.
In this special issue of Woodcraft Magazine we are excited to introduce you to our new 30 × 50' workshop. Why? Because we now have a place that lets us generate a truckload of workshop ideas, techniques, and project plans for making your shop more organized, efficient, and—dare I say it—a pretty cool place to hang out. What you notice right away from glancing at the photos is that we have outfitted our shop with three distinctly different cabinet areas built on three budgets. These include the MDF workshop, the melamine workshop, and the birch plywood workshop. Here, price differences come down to sheet goods, hardware, and countertop costs.
Lumber comes from a tree felled by loggers in a forest, as does the base material for sheet goods. But that’s all that the two have in common, because all sheet goods, including the many forms of plywood, are “engineered” in manufacturing to alter and enhance their natural performance properties for a better end product. That’s why you don’t have to weigh heavily the thought of using sheet goods for many of your woodworking projects. Their strength, stiffness, stability, overall uniformity, and frequently lower cost may offer a more viable option than solid boards.
Even if the process itself isn’t intimidating, the prospect of a slew of drawers will convince even die-hard handtoolers to put down the saw and pick up their favorite router. And why not? Hand-cut dovetails may be the hallmark of fine craftsmanship, but they’re also a lot of work. Most router-cut dovetails aren’t as attractive, but the speed and simplicity of the jig-cut joint balances out the aesthetic shortcomings.
What better floor for a woodworking shop than one made of wood? If you’re lucky enough to have a basement or dedicated outbuilding with sufficient headroom and a concrete floor that’s dry and reasonably flat, wood flooring can’t be beat as the starting point for a workshop. We chose southern yellow pine for the Woodcraft Magazine workshop floor for a number of reasons. First, it’s affordable and widely available. The 1 × 6 tongue-and-groove boards cost just under $3 per square foot in our neighborhood. Even though southern yellow pine is a softwood, this flooring offers an excellent combination of durability, strength, and resiliency—which probably explains why it’s been used for centuries as flooring in residential and commercial buildings.
Many woodworkers dream of a shop lined with flawlessly finished cabinets like the kitchen of some celebrity chef. If you have the time and inclination, go for it; just don’t let perfection prevent you from making real sawdust. Cabinets and countertops deserve protection, but a workshop doesn’t need a showroom-grade finish to do the job.
Behind every great workshop lies a great plan, whether your shop makes up the corner of a basement, the back wall of a two-car garage, or a dedicated outbuilding. Common ingredients include good organization, a complement of tools (power and hand) geared to your interests, and a practical, efficient floor plan. Other considerations are dust collection, accessibility, heating, lighting, and electrical service.
In a perfect world, you’d make all the cuts for same-width project parts at the same time. There are instances, however, when you need to set the rip fence for other cuts, and then must return to the original table saw setup. That’s when you need this jig. Its adjustable arms allow you to quickly reset your rip fence for two repeatable settings without fussy measuring and/or test-cutting. I mostly use the jig with my table saw, but it works just as well with a router table equipped with a miter gauge slot.
After reading some heated Internet threads about the WoodRiver planes, I’ll admit that I had some misgivings about putting myself in the crossfire. Then, I thought about the guy looking to buy his first block or bench plane on a limited budget. Price is important, especially today. (I had been woodworking for 15 years before I could afford my first Bed Rock.) That said, no tool is a bargain if it doesn’t work properly. So, out of pure curiosity, I accepted the assignment to examine and test the first editions of the WoodRiver block and bench planes.