Barry's Shop

My Work Shop


Barry Bingham

(updated April 2008)

An additional reason to build a new home in Heritage of Hawk Ridge was to build my “dream shop.”  This is the second shop I have had the opportunity to build.

In general, I use my shop for building fine furniture and for wood carving.

My shop is a place to think, plan, and build. It’s a place to relax.  As Mary Ann would say “It’s your cave.”  It’s a place to have a cup of coffee early in the morning and dream.

I want the shop to be inviting and comfortable.  I want to stop work on a project at any time and pickup where I left off at a later time without storing equipment and tools.  If I put a lot of dust and wood chips on the floor, I want to leave it there until I’m ready to clean up.  I also want to minimize the impact I have on Mary Ann and the rest of the house with noise, dust, and dirt.

A shop with all its cabinets, tables, and storage is an opportunity to practice and demonstrate your wood working skills. 

I chose one type of wood (oak) and one finish (boiled linseed oil with three coats of Minwax polyurethane clear stain finish) for all the cabinets, tables and storage units.  The tops of the tables are white Formica attached to ¾ inch MDF.

There are some great quotes I’ve heard that probably apply to me:

“A shop is always a work in progress.”

“He who dies with the most tools wins.”

“The difference between a boy and a man is the price of his toys.”

In the lower level, I used approximately 950 square feet (varying from 12 to 15 feet wide by 67 feet long).

The design and equipment used in my shop have been influenced by the methods I was taught and the equipment I used at the American Wood Working Academy (  I completed their Master program in 2004. 

In designing the shop, I wanted to:

1. have a safe environment in which to work where cleanup and storage of tools and equipment is easy. 

2.  work safely, and easily handle four by eight sheets of plywood and heavy lumber without additional help. 

3.  maximize flexibility to alter the shop layout.  This means all equipment and tables are on wheels.  All wall hanging units are on a French cleat rail running around the shop walls at the seven foot level.

4.  have double entry doors from outside the home to the lower level and into the shop to permit easy transport of wood and finished products.

5.  have easy access to equipment and tools when working.  All equipment needs to readily accessible minimizing movement of the equipment and set up time.  Tools, where possible, would hang on the walls surrounding the shop.

6.  design the work space for the most frequently used tools to maximize efficiency.  Thus, position the table saw, sliding compound miter saw, drill press, and band saw in a “circle” around a work table.

7.  use a dust collection system linked to all equipment producing dust.

8.  use an air filter system to minimize micro-dust in the air.

9.  have electrical outlets for 120v and 220v equipment spaced for easy access including 120v outlets mounted in the ceiling.

10.  provide for storage of sheet goods (like four by eight sheets of plywood), lumber, and cut-offs (short pieces of wood) all on wheels.

11.  have uniform table and equipment height to permit handling heavy sheets of plywood and long lumber.  Therefore, tables used for assembly are set at the height of the table saw and thus serve as in-feed and out-feed tables for sheets of plywood and lumber.

12.  have bright overhead lighting

13.  maximize sound suppression. The ceiling and all walls (including interior walls) are insulated.

14.  optimize temperature to work comfortably at any time of the year .  The heating and cooling are part of the total home system with cold air return filters to minimize dust transfer outside the shop. 

15. have temporary access to additional space for assembly.  A concrete 12’ by 12” patio and a large hobby room adjoin the shop.

16.  have space in the shop for wood carving that does not require storing and setting up the wood carving tools and equipment.

17.  have TV, video, and music.

18.  have chairs and a table for thinking and planning plus meetings of the HHR Wood Working Club.

Deciding on what equipment to purchase depends on the type of wood working a person wants to do.  For example, someone may be interested in only wood turning, so their shop is set up for a lathe, dust collection, and finishing.  In my case, I want to produce fine furniture and this requires the following equipment, most of which has been purchased at Woodcraft ( and located in Maryland Heights near West Port Plaza) or Rockler ( and located on St. Charles Rock Road north of the airport).

1.  a cabinet saw.  I use a Delta Unisaw ten-inch right tilting cabinet saw with a Biesemeyer Universal Fence running on 220 volts with a single phase three-horsepower motor.  I have found that the best saw blades are made by Forrest.

2.  a compound sliding miter saw.  The DeWalt DW708 Sliding Compound Miter Saw provides maximum flexibility with the ability to cut compound angles.  I use a Forrest Chopmaster blade.

3.  a band saw.  I use a 14-inch Delta Band Saw, Model 28-280 with a Kreg Precision Band Saw Fence Model KMS7200

4.  a floor mounted drill press – Jet JDP 17MF Drill Press with a self-made jig for precise holes.

5.  a planer  - DeWalt DW733 12 ½ inch Heavy Duty Portable Thickness Planer

6.  a jointer – 6-inch Delta Professional Jointer Model 37-196

7.  a router mounted in a table – Porter Cable Model 7518 variable speed (10K to 21K RPM) with a JessEm Mast R Lift Model 02101.  An Incra Ultra Jig provides an excellent fence.

8.  a drum sander – 18 inch by 36 inch Delta Drum Sander Model 31-250.

9.  a disk sander – Delta Bench Random Orbital Sander Model 31-750

10.  a dust collector -  220 volt Jet DC-1200 Dust Collector (4 inch) with a Dust Dog barrel filter.

11.  an air filter – Jet AFS-1000B Air Filtration unit  

12.  a dust vacuum – Rigid WD 1245 Portable Vacuum on wheels

13.  tenoning jig -  a Delta Tenoning Jig Model 34-182

14.  Dado set – a Forrest Dado Blade set

15.  clamps – Aluminum bar clamps at 40 inches, 52 inches, and 76 inches.

16.  various hand tools:

a.         Drill – Hitachi D13VF 

b.         Palm Sander – Porter Cable Random Orbit Sander Model 333 

c.         Hand held Sander – Porter Cable Random Orbit Sander Model 7335  

d.         Plunge Router -  Porter Cable Model 690 

e.         Router – Porter Cable Model 630 

f.          Laminate Trim Router – Porter Cable Laminate Trim Router Model 7310 

g.         Pocket hole system – Kreg Jig K3 Pocket Hole System 

h.         Biscuit Jointer – Porter Cable Model 557 

i.          Jig Saw -  DeWalt 323 variable speed 

j.          Dovetail jig – Leigh D4 Dovetail jig 

k.         Circular Saw – Porter Cable Model 324 MAG 7 ¼ inch Heavy Duty 

l.          Hand Planes -  various by Lie-Nielsen 

m.        Measuring tools – an assortment of tools including squares, angles, and measuring rules. 

It’s always interesting to see what jigs a wood worker makes for repetitive tasks.  I have made the following jigs (see pictures under the tab “Jigs”) 

1.         A Table saw hold down that permits wood being cut to be held in position as it enters the cutting blade. 

2.         A Raised panel jig to make raised panels for cabinet doors.  This jig uses a vertical bit in the router table rather than a horizontal bit. 

3.         A Jig for Biscuit jointer allows wood to be quickly moved to a cutting position rather than moving the heavier biscuit jointer. 

4.         A Jig for the drill press provides an adjustable fence for accurate holes. 

5.         A Spline jig for use on the table saw helps cut precise splines for corner joints. 

6.         A Pocket hole jig helps hold wood in place when using the Kreg K3 Pocket Hole System. 

When working around the shop, I wear a tool belt that has: 

1.         a 4-inch Engineer square 

2.         a 6-inch by ¾ inch steel ruler 

3.         a retractable tape measure for rough estimates 

4.         pencils 

5.         Flat-head and Phillips-head screwdrivers

Equipment used in the wood carving section of the shop includes: 

1.         a Tormek Super Grinder sharpening system 

2.         a 6-inch Delta Model 23-655 variable speed grinder/sharpener

3.         a DC720 portable dust collector

4.         a Foredom Power Carver Series CC

5.         Long gouges by Pfiel

6.         Palm gouges by Stubai and Diossud

7.         Knives by Helvie and Denny

What’s missing in my shop that I would like to have in the future? 

1.         A lathe

2.         A scroll saw

3.         A Rigid Model EB4424 sander