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Smaller tools, bigger shop

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I need more room to work. Period. The question is, how to get it?

My most recent paying project was repairing and refinishing a dining table, and it was anything but easy. My shop is as full as it can be, and finding room just to place the table while I worked was a nightmare. Yes, many of my tools – jointer, planer, drill press, band saw – are on wheeled bases, but having a place to actually move them so they’re not in the way of other tools I’m using takes forever. I just don’t have room to maneuver while working on a large-scale project like this. (And working outside isn’t an option this time of year.)

My shop space is fixed; that is, the walls are where the walls are, and there’s no changing that. So, I think the key is my tools. For example, I’ve been using a full-size lathe for the last few years, but have yet to make anything on it my old benchtop lathe with the bed extension couldn’t have handled. My floor-standing drill press is awesome but, again, I’ve done nothing on it that couldn’t be accomplished with a benchtop machine. And while I love my table saw with the 52” extension, since I don’t typically cut large sheet goods it has no real advantage over my previous saw with the 36” extension.

So I’m thinking maybe I need to downsize. Not downsize the shop, just a few of the machines in it. The extra 16” I’d gain on the side of my table saw by going from a 52” extension to a 36” would have been a huge boon on this table project. Freeing up the floor space being eaten by the lathe and drill press would also have made logistics far better.

And there’s my dilemma. I love my tools – they’re the best I’ve ever owned – but I’m starting to feel that replacing a few of the larger ones with smaller machines of equivalent quality might not be a bad thing.



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