Woodworking ...

I have a home workshop of which I am quite proud. I started, years ago, with a single shop 12' by 16' in size used for both woodworking and electronics. As time went on, I was able to expand the shop into two areas, the original area used for woodworking alone (featuring a planer and radial arm saw), and a newer electronics area 12' by 6' used exclusively for electronics (it has a curtain to prevent dust from the "wood shop" from contaminating the entire area) and features a 6' workbench with a set of shelves above for various pieces of test equipment.

What started as a necessity turned into a hobby. When we first moved into our house we were, like many new home owners, house-broke and so could hardly afford luxuries like a new kitchen. I enlisted the help of my father-in-law and we built new cabinets: basic, but functional, particle-board cabinets using melamine-covered wood with oak pulls glued to the bottom edge. Projects around the house continued and renovations, and woodworking, have become a hobby. We have done various modifications to the house including building the basement into a family room (it was a separate apartment when we moved in), relocating various walls in the process, and built a breakfast nook onto the house where a covered sunporch previously stood. I built the entire room myself including walls and floor, drywall, and added garden doors to the outside. I did the ceramic tile work for that room as well as two of our bathrooms and a few other jobs as well.

My Workshop - Woodworking Tools While most of my initial renovation projects involved heavy work, more recently I find myself migrating to more delicate projects like cabinetry (I could say something sentimental like It's in my blood, my grandfather was a cabinetmaker in "the old country"). The woodworking portion of my shop (12' by 16') features a Craftsman (Ryobi) radial arm saw with power feed, a 2hp/220V dust collector (required when your workshop is in your basement), a thickness planer on rails allowing it to be swung into the middle of the shop for use then pushed back against the wall when done (see below for details), a homebuilt router table, and a large center island workbench (the shop is designed with three smaller workbenches around dthe perimeter holding many small pieces of equipment including a stationary belt sander, bandsaw, small drill press, and mitre saw).
Mounted at the far end of the workbench is a homebuilt router table in which I mounted a 3hp plunge router upside-down on a hardwood table and built a fence from a single-piece of aluminum channel for stability. This high-stability arrangement (I've never been happy with a fence until I built this one) is required when using cabinet bits - the one used to cut raised-panel doors is several inches in diameter with a half-inch shaft.

Select a photo to see one of the niftier features of my shop allowing efficient use of the limited space ...

Thickness Planer - Stowed Thickness Planer - In Use

When not in use, the thickness planer, mounted on rails on the ceiling of the shop, is stowed against the wall. Space under the stowed planer is not wasted and is used for storage of short (under 4 foot) wood stock. With the planer out of the way, a large space in the workshop is left in the middle for assembly, use of the radial arm saw (seen here on the left and on wheels so it pulls out into the main area for use), or use of the router which bolts to the main bench.

Select a photo to see another space optimization ...

Mitre Saw - Stowed Mitre Saw - In Use

A mitre saw is a standard fixture in any shop, but to cut long stock a long run is needed. My saw, seen here with a dust collection hood behind it, is mounted on the corner of a small bench allowing cuts of up to twelve inches to be made without moving the saw.

My most recent woodworking project was renovating the upstair bathroom, the very last room in the house that was essentially original from the time we moved-in. The centerpiece is a custom-built oak vanity featuring a solid oak front and raised-panel doors, all built in the workshop. The photos below outline the entire renovation process ...

Demolition/Prep Tiling Cabinet 1 Cabinet Completion Details Medicine Cabinet

The completed bathroom vanity cabinet is seen here. Hover over a title in red above to see the entire process of renovating the bathroom ...

Pine Cabinet These cabinets were the prototype of those used in the bathroom vanity project and sit in the den above the freezer. Using the same construction technique as the vanity, the front was assembled as one unit using pocket screws and simply attached to a cabinet built for the rear. Doors are all real raised-panel built from pine (much cheaper and easier to work-with than the oak used for the vanity above - also easier of the cutters!). I was pleased with the results and it did prove the viability of building both my own doors as well as the technique of preassambling the front of the cabinet first.

Woodworking Project Another project completed a few years ago was a half-Deacon's bench for our hallway built with my father-in-law's help. The bench features a small seating area as well as two drawers to hold catalogues and other stuff. It was constructed with a frame of poplar and skinned with real red oak. Drawer fronts were constructed of rail-and-stile technique (but using flat lauan panels). The top and sides were constructed of quarter-inch oak-skinned plywood.

Veneer Detail the corner of the bench showing the thick veneer glued to the frame. A trim router was used to make the corners fit perfectly.
Drawer Detail the rail-and-stile construction of the drawer front is seen in this detail. In order to use the cutters a 3.5 hp plunge router was used and mounted on a homemade table with a one-piece fence made of aluminum channel.
Panel Detail the side and front panels were pre-finished and simply inserted into the hole trimmed by the veneer. They are secured by short wood screws.

Arcade Machines

Arcade Machines As the kids get older (and I, in a mid-life crisis, relive my childhood), the rec room in the basement has migrated from a playroom to a man cave true "recreation" room complete with foosball (table soccer), an air hockey table, and several arcade and pinball machines as seen here. The machine on the left is a homebuilt Mame arcade machine running over fifty classic 80's arcade games including PacMan, Donkey Kong, and my personal favourite "Elevator Action". The cabinet was built from MDF board and has the same shape as the classic Centipede game (which it also runs). With a subwoofer and 40W/channel sound system, the machine also serves as a jukebox.

The two pinball machines are a 1979 Williams Firepower machine and a 1990 Data East Phantom of the Opera machine. Firepower, my first machine, was in very poor shape when we bought it and was a true "project" machine requiring extensive work. Despite having digital displays, Firepower is very much an "old school" machine (the flipper buttons, for example, switch current directly to the flipper solenoids) while Phantom is a reasonably modern machine with great sound and light effects.