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The one-man, 9,000-piece-per-year production workshop

With 15 different workstations available, Chesapeake, Virginia, woodworker Erik Jorgensen has a booming business at home.

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  • Good lighting maximizes safety

    Safety was the priority when Erik Jorgensen designed his one-man, high-volume production workshop. He accomplished that goal with a well-organized layout that maximizes lighting and minimizes distractions.

  • Designed for strength and warmth

    SHOP SPECS

    TYPE: Dedicated outbuilding

    SIZE: 20x30' plus a 380-square-foot office upstairs

    CONSTRUCTION: Wood frame on cinder block foundation, with concrete pad. Ceiling height is 8'; 2x4 wall studs spaced on 16" centers for strength and hurricane resistance. Melamine laminate covers interior walls. Insulation is R-30 in shop ceiling and office; R-20 in walls. Shop floor is surfaced with 2' squares of foam-rubber-type mats.

    HEATING AND COOLING: 18,000 Btu air-conditioning/heating unit

    ELECTRICAL: 200-amp service panel

    LIGHTING: 23 fluorescent 4'-long double-bulb light fixtures, with 40-watt cool white bulbs

    DUST COLLECTION: 2-hp Penn State dust collector; 3-speed remote-controlled Delta 50-875 air cleaner with double filter

    AIR COMPRESSOR: Sears 6-hp, 120-volt single-phase permanently lubricated, with 30-gallon capacity

  • Designed for working alone

    Mobile tables that can be moved into position easily next to the tablesaw provide extra support when maneuvering large sheet goods--a real benefit when working alone. A touch of bowling lane wax once a month keeps the tablesaw surface slippery. Adequate overhead and task lights illuminate detail work, and tools and supplies on nearby wall racks keep Erik's production operation efficient.

  • Keeping costs down

    An avid recycler and bargain finder, Erik is always looking for ways to keep costs down. The router table is a good example. He built it from scrapwood that a local retailer had discarded. Dust collection intakes are present at both workstations shown.

  • Floor plan for functionality

    Erik's floor plan was greatly influenced by the shortcomings of his previous two-car-garage shop, such as the difficulty of cutting a full sheet of plywood. After considering the 8' infeed and outfeed areas both the planer and wide-belt sander need, plus the size of those tools and the wall thickness, he determined the shop's width.

  • Exotics from local vendors

    Erik uses more than 40 different species of wood, including Afromosia, canarywood, granadillo, panga panga, and snakewood. Most of it is purchased from local vendors. Endangered species are not used. The shop's air conditioner removes most of the moisture from the air and keeps the wood at about 8 percent moisture content.

  • Minimizing lumber space minimizes purchases

    Lumber is stored in several areas around the shop, including an open rack beneath the mitersaw. One benefit of not having as much space for lumber as he would like: "It keeps me from buying too much wood. I'm a woodaholic," Erik says.

  • Saving time with a flap sander

    Erik credits this flap-wheel sander with making the biggest difference in his shop production. Rather than sanding each piece by hand (as he used to do!), he can sand up to 200 pieces in a day. The 4x10" flap wheels come in 150 and 180 grit, one for each end. The buffer comes with a 3/4" mandrel, but the sanding wheels come with a 1" hole.

  • PVC to the rescue

    Erik cut a kerf into a 7"-length of 1" PVC pipe that allows it to be inserted into the hole of the wheel. A 6 1/2"-long 1 1/4"-diameter piece of PVC pipe acts as a bushing so the bolt on the right side can push against the left side of the wheel and the right side of the buffer. It is assembled from left to right as shown.

  • From metal to wood

    This metal-machining lathe has been converted into a wood lathe with a jaw chuck. Erik uses it for turning dowels for shoehorns and wizard wands. An old bicycle inner tube covers the end of the jaw chuck. "This keeps my knuckles from getting hurt during turning," Erik says.

  • Small projects take shape at the mini lathe

    The mini lathe is used primarily for perfume blanks, wine stoppers, and coffee scoops. The machine's variable speed is a must because it lets Erik slow the lathe down to add a clear-coat finish and then speed it up again to buff it. "It allows the wood to speak to the woodworker, and each time I turn wood, I find a unique quality about each item.

  • Homemade drum sander cleaner

    This homemade wide-belt drum sander cleaner is another of Erik's innovations. It consists of a block of gum rubber attached to a pushstick with cloth-backed double-faced tape. By lowering the sander drum about 3" Erik can clean sandpaper quickly and with little effort. It lasts about a year before replacing, he says.

  • Flocking adds a final touch

    Flocking jewelry boxes with the two-handed pump method was exhausting and imprecise, so Erik designed this flocking gun. The compressed-air-powered design leaves one hand free at all times so Erik can turn the workpiece for complete, even coverage. The sensitive trigger controls air pressure. Erik applies a light layer of glue before spraying the crushed suede flock. He sent the design to Donjer, which now manufactures it. "I should have patented the idea, but at the time my goal was just making something that made my life easier," he says.

  • A wide assortment of projects give customers a choice

    A sampling of Erik's finished products includes


    1. Cheese boards

    2. Shoehorns

    3. Bud vases

    4. Flamingo backscratchers

    5. Bracelet helpers

    6. Oven squirrels

    7. Luminary boxes

    8. Salmon wine bottle holders

    9. Salmon cribbage board

    10. Wine bottle stoppers

    11. Wizard wands.

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