Shrinking My Workshop

A couple of years back I took over half of our basement with my workshop. I took out the bathroom that was down there, took down ceiling panels to allow for more height, and removed some piping that had gone to the toilet. This resulted in me having about an 18’x12′ space, but shaped slightly like a “T”, with one portion of the shop being more narrow than the rest. The shop served me well and I enjoyed having as much space as I did. However, I have since realized that having a second bathroom in the house would be much more convenient than a larger shop space.

I will be putting in a wall across the bottom of the “T”, dividing the sink that is down there from the rest of the basement. This will also enclose the drain pipe that was used for the toilet I took out when I first moved my shop down there (I foolishly got rid of that toilet). I chose to do it this way so that I would only have to build one wall and the size of the bathroom (about 8’x6′) will leave space for a standing shower that we might install in the future. Doing this will shrink my shop to roughly 12’x12′.

Even though my shop is shrinking, I am actually looking forward to having less space. I have a tendency to collect too many items, which leads to constant cluttering and disorganization. Having less space will force me to think more about what I buy and where I store things like tools, lumber, paints, finishes, and fasteners. I think it will also help me to focus on taking my time and turning out higher quality workpieces, as I won’t be able to work on as many things at once, as I sometimes do now.

Shrinking my shop means I will also be shrinking my table saw. I currently use a Powr-Kraft trt-3333, which I believe was made in 1957. I got it for free from my neighbor and it has served me very well. I slapped a Delta T-3 fence on it and have a maximum rip capacity of about 33″. It takes up too much floorspace in a 12’x12′ shop though, so I will be switching to a portable job site saw. Not only is the table on a job site saw smaller, but I will also be able to collapse the stand it sits on and roll the entire unit up against the wall, this will reduce the footprint to just a couple of feet.

I would also like to use more hand tools in future projects. Not only do hand tools feel nice in the hand but they also take up less space. Having a smaller shop will force me to be more choosy about what power tools I buy that take up table or bench space. I can fill in the gaps of what I can’t do with power tools with hand tools, this will both take up less room and provide me with an activity that naturally slows down the project. Which, as I said before, I need to do because I have a tendency to rush.

I am also looking forward to the challenge of organizing the shop and maximizing what little space I will have. Having challenges like this help to keep me thinking creatively and using up scraps I create during projects. So, all-in-all, shrinking my shop is a positive, even though it initially sounds like a negative. I know that some folks like to find something that works and then keep it that way for as long as possible, but I think there is value in changing things up now and again. It helps to keep the mind active and the creative juices flowing.

For those of you with hobbies, what do you do to help keep your hobby fresh and your creativity cycling in your head? Does it help to change your workspace around from time-to-time?


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