Planning Any Shop Improvements?

It’s ironic (and embarrassing) how I push things down my “to do” list, especially when it comes to shop improvements. Case in point: three years ago I bought a window air conditioner to get through those steamy summer days. I don’t mind sweat equity when working hard on a project, but I really don’t like to drip sweat on cast-iron tools or into a wet finish. That, and my boss was coming into town for a big photoshoot. I wanted the shop to be nice and cool. My version of a red carpet, I suppose.

Anyway, I installed the air conditioner in a south-facing window because it was the best option. We got through our photoshoot in cool comfort. Then, a week or so later the rains started. Water leaked in around that AC. Not good. I tried one solution after the next to no avail. So, once fall came, I took the unit out, frustrated by my inability to stop the leaking, and I haven’t put it back in since. It’s been sitting on a shelf gathering dust.

I’ve been kicking myself the last couple summers, sweating away with an almost new air conditioner doing me no good. Dumb. I’m not lazy, and that’s the truth. I just couldn’t land on the best solution about what to do.

Finally, a couple weekends ago, the eureka moment came. There’s a wall to my shop that separates it from a portion of the building that serves as a parking space for a tractor and other stuff. It’s protected from the elements but still has a dirt floor. Hey, I could install that AC right through the wall! No more rain problems, and the machine will probably run cooler because it’s never exposed to the sun’s heat. As my daughter would say, “Duh, Dad!” Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner?

So, over Memorial Day weekend I set aside the woodworking and tore into that wall. It’s fun to do some wall framing and electrical work now and again. This kind of remodeling provides some quick gratification…it’s not delicate work, the finishing is minimal and you get a big result fast.

Wouldn’t you know it, those couple days were in the 80s and humid. No sooner was the AC in place, then the temperatures dropped into the 70s. Oh well. When July turns up the heat, I’ll be ready for it.

How about you? Are there any shop improvements that you’ve been putting off too? This summer might be the perfect time to blow the dust off of that ignored project and make your workspace more pleasant to work in. I’d like to hear what you’ve got planned for your shop this summer! Leave a comment and tell us about it. If there’s a hurdle that’s standing in your way, maybe our blog followers can offer some advice.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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About Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall has been writing for Woodworker's Journal as a contributing editor and field editor since 2001. Prior to that, he spent five years developing home improvement and woodworking books. He's written five of them and has served as a contributing writer on many more. A wood and tool junkie since childhood, Chris thoroughly enjoys building projects and reviewing woodworking tools for the Journal. When he's not assembling new machinery, sawing parts, taking photos or crunching text for an upcoming story, he enjoys spending time with his family and a houseful of pets at their home in rural Ohio.

7 thoughts on “Planning Any Shop Improvements?

  1. My shop improvements include a new Powermatic bandsaw, a new drum sander, a new planer/jointer and a new dust collection equipment. Now to get all of it placed where it will work best for me.

  2. I actually have been shopping around for an air conditioner to install in my little one car garage shop. I am in Alabama, it has already been in the high 90′s a few times here so, priority is high. Right now, I have fans blowing, but it is mostly just moving around the hot air. I have already done a bit of re-arranging in order to make things flow a bit more efficient. I also recently picked up an old Rockwell band saw that is in process of restoration. All of these would be much more comfortable with some AC though.

  3. I work in the driveway. The tent/awning I’ve been using bit the dust when it went to one soccer game too many, and repair parts aren’t available. I’m thinking “Pergola” with a lower sun-block (and rain-preventing) awning, allowing all sorts of creepy (or creeping) vines to cover the top. This will also allow me to expand beyond the 10×10 extent of the tent, which I desperately need. It’s hot in Texas (my electronics shop has the air conditioner) but a large fan will keep the air moving and help with keeping me cool. If I add a hose-coupled misting system, I’ll be fine. Also changing the way I do power distribution for the power tools out there. Extension cords are a serious trip hazard even though I’m careful about layout and marking ‘em.

  4. I’m relocating my workshop to the basement having absconded a 20′x20′ space that was once used as a home theater room. Carpet is up and out; now its on to the electrical work in my new basement workshop!

  5. since retirement four years ago i’ve built a garage loft with storage and drop down stair, moved a gas line, rewired and added lights, built several cabinets and benches, paneled and dry walled the better part of it, added a wet wall and still can’t get the car in the garage. well someday.

  6. I built a small shed to hold some wood and my dust collector. I am trying to figure out a new shop layout to maximize the dust collection before I drill holes in the shed and shop. Any suggestions? I really like the chop saw table and am going to try to build one suitable for my setup. Thank you for the video of all of the features of the table.

  7. Talk about projects! My problem is space. I work in my garage which needs to be used for my vehicles to sleep. I need help in developing space saving, mobile modules to house multiple pieces of equipment depending on what is needed at the time for a particular job. I have a table saw, two bench grinders, a Tormek sharpening machine, a router and table, hand held circular saw, three orbital sanders, two jig saws, a hand held router, bench press drill, welding machine, a wall full of tools, )spanners. sockets. plyers, screwdrivers, router bots, drill bits, sanding disks and the list gopes on and on). My last project was to install a work bench (50-60Kg) on hefty tressel legs that I raise into the space above one of my vehicles using a pulley mechanism. It still takes all my trenght to operate manually. I am bursting at the seems. The weather in Johannesburg (SA) is very cold in winter and extremely wet in summer so I need to be sheltered from the elements. Anyone out there with some nifty ideas and pictures of what they have done?

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