Dream Shop


SHOP OWNER: Bruce Hutchings
LOCATION: Northern New Hampshire

    When my wife and I decided to retire to our vacation home in northern New Hampshire, besides adding an 1100 sq. ft. addition to the house, I got to build my dream workshop. My past shops have always been in an unheated garage or the basement of our home, so getting to build a shop starting from a clean sheet of paper was a real treat.
     In the planning stages, I tried to get as many "opinions" as possible concerning size and layout. Most shops I read about are based around either a one car or a two car garage, 12' x 24' or 24' x 24'. I also researched the "Woodworker's Guru," Norm Abrams' shop and learned about his ideas and theories. Armed with as much information as possible, we made the plans and went to work.
     My shop is 24' x 30' with a ceiling height of 9'6". After working in cramped basements, its particularly nice to have the high ceilings. As you can see from the photo, I went against conventional wisdom and first placed my workbench in the center of the workshop. Most everyone recommended putting the table saw in the middle but that would have meant running electrical and dust hookups on top of or through the floor. Instead, I placed my table saw next to a wall (sorry Norm), postioned so that I can rip sheet shock with no trouble. I also built a large outfeed table to assist cutting long pieces ( I can rip up to 12' when needed). The second most useful tool in the shop is my radial arm saw. Many that I talked to (E-mailed or chat-roomed with) recommended not buying a radial arm saw, they said it was too dangerous. I find it most useful. (No, I don't rip with it.) I have found the radial arm saw the best tool for mitering, compound mitering, and repetitive cutting. I have built a long extension table next to the saw for cutting stock up to 10'.
     A 6" jointer, 15" planer, a 14" bandsaw, drill press, a wonderful old very heavy cast iron lathe with 8" swing and 40" length, and a 2-hp dust collector round out the shop machines. The planer and the bandsaw are on mobile bases so they can be moved out of the way when not being used. Since I don't have a nationally televised woodworking show, I don't have all the great toys, yet. Most all the power tools are Jet which I've found just as good as Delta but for a few dollars less.
     I have found that workshops are like sailboats; you always wish you had a slightly bigger one. Storage for hand tools and hardware have been slowly evolving during the nine months that I've been working in the shop.
     Most of my work so far has been building cabinetry, bookcases, the built- ins for our new home, and my wife's office furniture. A switch from carpentry and framing, I'm hoping my primary work will be cabinetry and furniture making using locally available red oak, cherry, maple, and native white pine although future plans call for building a cedar strip-built canoe and a fishing boat (when not making sawdust, I like to try and outsmart the local rainbows); and if my wife will let me, I may try my hand at building an airplane!!

...Bruce Hutchings
StraightEdge Woodworking




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