A Tour of the Woodbutcher's Late Shop

Quick Access Buttons

This is actually a pretty sad post. SWMBO and I lived in the house where this shop was located for 21 years. I started work on the shop within days after moving in, and it evolved over that time to pretty much what is shown here. That is if you don't count the sawdust, piles of parts, manuals, notes, and cutoffs that adorned most horizontal surfaces. I am not a neatnik.

I apologize for the quality of the pictures. Although I thought my flash wasn't functioning quite right, and the pictures originally seemed much darker than I had hoped, I did do some adjusting in Paint Shop Pro. Each of the pictures you see here is a thumbnail to save page loading time. Just click on any picture to see a larger version.

Anyway, the shop was in about a third of a 1000 square foot basement. It had sort of an el shape, and wound up too small for me. Or my tool buying. We'll begin the tour at an illogical point, although since most of you were never there, it won't matter. The el's legs were east/west and north south. The first picture is taken from the northeast (outside) corner of the el and looks southwest.

Southwest view of the shop

You are looking toward the back of the tablesaw. In this view is the Delta DJ-15, in the dark to the left. Visible behind the jointer is the Craftsman compressor. One of the favorite family stories revolves around that. Note the link belt on the saw, the zero-clearance insert, and the roller bearing stand at the outfeed of the saw. You can't tell from the picture, but the 4" dust colllection pipe feeds through the wall below the air regulator to the Jet 1 hp DC behind the wall. The switch for the DC is on the corner below the tool belt.

West view of the shop

Moving to the right, we see the table saw in the haze at the lower left, the Delta 28-280 bandsaw, Delta 22-540 planer, the Makita LS-1030 chopsaw on a TracMaster stand behind it, an old Craftsman jigsaw in the right corner, and the arm of the Craftsman radial arm saw to the right. I saw the chop saw stand on display at Home Depot once and bought it on the spot. I love it. The company sold the product to DeWalt, who modified the design somewhat. I like the original better.

Table saw

This is a view of the business end of the table saw. This is the Sow's Ear of which I speak occassionally. On top is the Delta Tenoning jig, and the XR2424 fence is visible. Leaning against the saw on the left is the miter sled I built. At the front is the homemade panel cutting jig, as Norm describes it. Visible just underneath the saw top is the high class Jet On/Off switch (thanks Jim Delaney) that turned this saw into a real brute. Well, if you can't be good, you can look good.


Okay, turning right 90° we see the bandsaw. Nothing too exciting here, except there's a good view of the dust collector attachment (Delta part # 50-239) that replaces the little plastic thingee we all love to hate. I don't know how they can design such a crappy adaptor as that and such a nice one as this at the same factory.

Dust collecting attachment

A friend took a close up picture of his 50-239 attachment and since I periodically get inquiries about it, I thought I'd steal it and add it to the tour.


Another 90° to the right and in the northwest corner is an ancient Sears jigsaw. Frankly, I don't use it much. I think jigsaw work is something like lathe turning; it's a subset of woodworking that stands alone and isn't necessarily a needed skill or tool for the mainstream woodworking that I'm interested in. I don't even remember if there's a model number on it. I know I don't have any paperwork. An old friend gave it to me just before he moved away. It has an oil sump for the crankshaft and after using it for an hour or so, deposits a fine film of oil on the lower casting. You don't notice it until after several sessions of sawdust generation elsewhere in the shop and then you happen to see the oily coat of sawdust on the jigsaw.

Note the homemade roller stands to the left of the saw. I got a section of conveyer years ago, and scavenged the rollers (with bearings; much like roller skate wheels), the axles, and the rails. Then I turned a couple of rollers on my old, homemade lathe, built some pine stands and rigged an attachment for the rollers. They're clunky, and sometimes they don't sit as square as I'd like, but they're amazingly functional.


Speaking of lathes, here's mine. Plain old Craftsman design that hasn't changed in years. The Ridgid offering at Home Depot is virtually identical except for the color. Several of my friends are serious wood turners, and although they may have had one like this in their past, most of them have moved on to lathes that cost elephant bucks and weigh about as much. There's actually a lot of good work that can be done on this, and although I have turned some things I'm proud of, and will do so in the future, turning isn't the singular passion for me that it is for others.

Just in front is my beloved Omnijig dovetail fixture. There is no heavier nor solidly built dovetail jig in existance. The Leigh gets all the press because it focuses on through dovetails, but the Omnijig is designed for production work day in and day out. And it'll do through dovetails just fine, thank you.

North view of the shop

I had a nice shelf and panel set up above and behind the lathe. I had all of my lathe tools as well as faceplates, drive centers and tail centers, and calipers hanging there. There's even an incandescant light and my face shield. The unrecognizable brown and white thing hanging next to the chisels is my first Sorby chisel. I now have quite a collection of them, and the Sears chisels shown here will soon disappear.

North view of the shop

Here is a picture of the north wall of the basement; one of the outside legs of the el. To the left is the radial arm saw, in the center is a roll-around tool chest, and to the right is my router table. The red cylindrical thing is the central vacuum unit for the house. What a treat to be concentrating on some intricate piece of work as SWMBO decides the hall needs vacuuming.

The tool chest has turned out to be one of my better purchases. Sears is constantly having sales of one sort or another, and it's usually possible to get a nice chest and cabinet (upper and lower units, respectively) for a decent price. I have a lot of stuff stored in there that I could never have found room for on a wall. I had another smaller (but heavier) unit in the garage for my wrenches, auto air tools, etc.

Power cord protector

This is a close up of the steel cord protector a friend of mine had fabricated for me in his factory. It's approximately 7 ga steel, about 10" wide and about 5' long. It has been crimped slightly along the long axis in the center, so that when laid on the floor, it has about 78" gap under it. It's perfect for running the power cord to the table saw. I can roll heavy objects over it without a problem, and because the steel is so relatively thin (about .176") there's no toe stubbing, and most of the dust can be swept right over it.

Router table

This is a closer shot of my router table with my Hitachi M12V in it. Note the switch on the upper left. I found it at The Woodworker's Store in Morris, Illinois. I don't recall a manufacturer's name or any model number on it, but it has pigtails with a 120V plug and socket attached. It's really handy. Of course, once I found the Jet switch, like on my table saw, I would probably use that instead, but this one was first.

Router bits

Okay, so I'll show off a little, ahem, bit. Here's the drawer with router bits in it. Not all that large a collection, but several red, orange, and white bits there. Actually, I think the only white one I have is a set of slotting cutters and they're in a case in the opening below the two top drawers. The panel raising bit and the cope and stick bit are from MLCS. They seem to have done an adequate job. I got the panel raiser because it has a back-cutter like the one the Rosendahl's use. Theirs is frightfully expensive, however. I did have a problem with the panels climbing over the panel raising part, and that presents a problem with the backcutter. I think for the next set of panels I'm going to buy a bit without the back-cutter and then do the back relief with a separate back cutter. Jesada has a nice set for that.

East view of the shop

Turning east, is the other outside leg of the el. I see I cleverly missed most of the workbench and the tool panels above it. But here you can see the Craftsman drill press to the right and the Craftsman tool chest in the middle, which serves as storage for all my drill press accessories. In it are twist drills, spade bits, Forstner bits, taps, dies, mortise attachment, spanner wrench, drilling fluids, vise, EZ Outs ®, and other useful items.

Behind the drill press on the wall is a Harvey's Bristol Cream container from long ago. Harvey's is a traditional gift to SWMBO every Christmas, and one year they had these nice cylindrical boxes that I adapted to hold dowels and wire. I don't even know if they still sell them that way. Turns out to be great for lengths over 15" or so, but I found a lot of shorts I'd forgotten about when I took it down.

The wooden cabinet next to it I built probably 25 years ago. It has 14 drawers about 2" x 5" x 12" deep. It is incredibly handy for nails, screws, machine parts, scrap brass, shim stock, and lots of other things. It's cheap, hideous, only moderately well made, and I can't throw it away.

Hand tools

This is a picture of the custom hand tool racks I built above the workbench. I mentioned elsewhere that I hate pegboard, so this was my solution. Custom racks are great if you can fill them when you build them. They aren't well adapted to adding stuff later on.

Power tools

This is my power tool rack. I don't have that many creative moments; most of the things I do are either fixing things or adapting someone else's ideas. This one is mine. My father came up with a clever way of storing his power tools. He built hanging devices for each one and attached them to a plywood panel which was then affixed to a spot on the wall. For each tool, he built a small box for the electrical cord and mounted that near the tool holder associated with it.

When I first put my current shop together (my 3rd) I built a similar panel for my power tools. Two problems soon became apparent. The idea was good as long as no more tools were acquired. You see, I put up a panel that would accommodate all of the tools I had at the time. You know how it goes, new project, new tool. I soon was back to the old problem of tools with no place for them. And what's worse, I didn't have room to put a larger panel up, not to mention the fact that I had no interest in disassembling the original panel and refabricating a larger one.

The second problem was efficiency. My first panel probably only took care of six or eight tools. I needed something better. I wish I could tell you what I did to contrive this idea, but I can't. I do know that the back panel for the rack was made from the original tool panel. Anyway, I pawed around in the scrap plywood pile, maybe even bought a sheet, and this is what I cobbled up.

West view of shop with not much left

Well, it doesn't seem like much, does it? This shot is the same orientation as the second one above; the one with the planer and chopsaw. Yes, I brought the shop vac with me. But I left the drywall. As I write this tour in my 2 bedroom condo in Florida, it is with a serious melancholy, for I realize that I had a lot of happy times in that shop. I had a lot of nice things there and I made a lot of nice things there. If I've learned nothing else since being in this condo I've learned that it's nice to have a place to go to work on something that's fully equipped, even if it's just downstairs.

Empty shop

I built a workbench for my son, a CD rack for my daughter, a sewing cabinet for my wife, and performed lots of other less poignant tasks here. I didn't realize until I had taken the lights down how incredibly well lit it was, which I don't think shows in the pictures. This last shot was taken with available light from a couple of windows and a couple of incandescants. The window in the middle is the one that was behind the rolling tool chest above. You can just make out the tank of the central vacuum next to it.

Okay, brag time. If you don't want to be annoyed with someone's ostentatious list of possessions don't click this button. But I've managed a few good deals over the years and I want to have a place to go where I can reminisce and maybe you'll get a tool idea of your own. Besides, it's a way to get some tool review info without having a lot of blow-ins fall in your lap.

Last updated: 15 November 2014

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional Valid CSS!