Episode #9: Organizing Your Space

With tools in hand and the skills to sharpen them, we’re just about ready to start building some furniture. There’s just a few things left. First, we need a place to work, which means a workbench. Then, we need a way to keep our tools organized. So in this episode, I give a formal tour of my shop and talk about how I addressed these issues in my little space.


 

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11 thoughts on “Episode #9: Organizing Your Space

  1. Bob, thanks for another informative podcast. I’m really enjoying them. btw – with help from one of your sharpening videos I have successfully sharpened two saws so far. Keep them coming.

  2. Great episode, Bob. A far less dry topic than sharpening. 🙂 I like your continuous French cleat (in early episodes I thought it was a Shaker peg-rail) and some of your storage reminds me of my own. I prefer a dedicated saw till and plane till for bench planes, though. I store the majority of my lumber in my garage, which isn’t a great thing because it means I have to bring it into the shop for a couple of weeks before I make something. Your lumber storage method is better, for sure.

    • Thanks Mike!
      I agree, I was getting tired of the sharpening myself. I was considering a Shaker peg rail at first but I felt that I would be limited to how heavy of an item I’d be able to hang on the pegs since they are cross grain construction. The French cleat is capable of holding a lot more weight than a peg and it’s also easier to move custom holders on a French cleat. The lumber storage I use is ok, but it can be very inconvenient if I have several long, wide boards in the rack as I often do at the start of a new project. Moving them around while standing on my saw bench isn’t the safest thing in the world to do, especially if it’s 8/4 or 12/4 stock. Unfortunately, in my space, my options are limited.

  3. Bob, great episode as always.

    What I really liked about this one was seeing the shop and the layout you have for it. It makes the idea of having a shop inside your home more realistic and gives me great ideas on how to organize my next shop (currently it is a unheated garage; having one inside my home would be a dream). The custom french cleated storage boards are great to see in use and allow for reworking of the shop easily. I know you mentioned your bench isn’t exactly as you would like it (based on your experience and I know you noted some changes you would make); but would you do an episode down the line one not so much what you would design your new bench like; but what you would suggest other budding hand-tool woodworkers to watch out for.

    As always, very informative and the most informative I watch as I become more of a hand-tool user. I like how you are realistic in looking at and talking about being a woodworker and the fact that most of us are guys who are likely not in the best of shape (ie. me).

    Last, have you found there are any physical downsides to hand-tool based woodworking (e.g. back issues) that you might speak to on a future episode and how to watch out for and correct for them?

    • Thanks Anthony!
      I will certainly consider an episode dedicated to the workbench. I think a lot of folks might find it interesting. Fortunately, it’s pretty difficult to improve on past designs when it comes to a bench for hand tool use. There’s a reason that benches like the ones pictured in Ruobo and Nicholson are once again gaining in popularity, besides being recommended by Chris Schwarz (remember, he didn’t invent these things). As more and more folks are using more and more hand tools, we are beginning to experience first hand the inadequacies of more modern workbench designs. The simple truth is that the old guys got it right.

      I’ll definitely do a bench episode. However, do shoot me an email and let me know what kind of questions you’d like to see covered. I can put together an episode but if there are specific questions that you (or anyone else) have that you’d like to see addressed in the episode, it would make for a better show, so please send them along. I’ll compile them all and try to talk about all of them in the episode.

      Lastly, to be honest, I have not found any physical downside to hand tool work, but I also don’t have any pre-existing conditions. But it shouldn’t be a problem if you work correctly. There’s no reason that woodworking (hand tool or otherwise) should give you a bad back (or shoulder, or neck, etc.). The most important thing to keep in mind is to pay attention to your own body. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. As a matter of fact, in this regard, I think hand tool work is actually better for you. Workbenches, saw benches, shave horses, home made lathes, etc. can all be built the proper heigh to fit our own bodies. You can make them whatever size you need to in order to fit you and allow you to work comfortably (see comments about saw bench height in the Mechanics of Sawing podcast post). However, table saws, band saws and other machinery isn’t really customizable for different heights. You have to work with whatever heigh the manufacturer makes them. This is not as good for you, especially if you already have back (or shoulder, or neck, etc.) problems. Come to think of it, this would make a good episode as well. Thanks!

  4. Hi Bob,
    Just a comment about injuries. I spent 35 years making mass produced furniture. Some of it was very large and heavy. When i was young it didn’t mattter too much but it caught up with me and i now have a rotator cuff shoulder injury. On reflection there were no lifting aids available and of course it was not macho to ask for help. I am now returning to fine furniture making which is what I trained for when I was a youngster. I believe there is a lesson here which you might want to pass on to others in your excellent pod casts. Thanks for helping me to cath up on new techniques and tools!

  5. As a new handtool user I have a question. How do you make a French cleat with handtools? I know how to do it with a tablesaw, but not by hand.

    • Hi Pruette,

      Thanks for the question! Making a French cleat by hand is no different than making one using power, it just takes a few more minutes. If you are good with your hand saws, you can clamp a piece upright in the vise of your workbench, draw an angled guideline across the end grain and use a marking gauge to continue the guide lines down each face of the board. Then saw following the guide lines. I’ve done this for smaller French cleats and it works well because the angle doesn’t have to be exact, or even consistent, the two pieces just need to match, which is automatic when you saw them out from one piece.

      However, this method can be kind of hard to use when you want to do a long cleat like the full length one I have on the Western wall of my shop. For this cleat, I simply drew the desired angle on the end grain on one end, then marked offset guidelines on each face of the board using a marking gauge. I then clamped the board to my bench and used my fore plane to plane the angle dow to my two guide lines.

      Hope that answers your question!

  6. Hello Bob, I just found your podcasts and really like them. I have a question about the book on your desk when you filmed the storage episode. It appeared to be one on greek architecture. I recently watched the DVD’s from George Walker and am looking for a good book with the ratios and some history. Can you recommend a good one or two?

    • Hi Todd,
      The book I have and reference most often for the column orders is Thomas Chippendale’s book The Gentleman & Cabinetmaker’s Director. I believe that the reprints are out of print now, but they are usually available used from Amazon and other used book sellers. I got mine used for just a few dollars, and it was in like new condition and I reference it all the time. I highly recommend it if you have any interest at all in traditional design.

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