A New England Natural
If you look closely, you might spot the one exposed dust-collection pipe in this shop; otherwise every pipe, hose, conduit, and cord is hidden in the floor or behind a wall. It took Mike Connolly and friends a long weekend in 2002 to raise the frame of his workshop near Concord, New Hampshire. Four years later it’s still not done, and Mike couldn’t be happier.
A New England Natural
It took Mike Connolly and friends a long weekend in 2002 to raise the frame of his workshop near Concord, New Hampshire. Four years later it's still not done, and Mike couldn't be happier.
Exterior View of Mike Connolly's Shop
Mike selected a barn kit precut to his specifications for his shop. Because he needed more wall space than doors, only two of the four doors on this side are operable. The door at the far right leads to the paint room. The door to the left of the paint room door opens directly into the shop.
All the parts in their place
The 120 cubbyholes in this storage unit help keep Mike’s shop organized.
TYPE: Dedicated outbuilding 40' from house
SIZE: 28x48' with loft above 14' ceiling, plus 26' vaulted ceiling above office and library
CONSTRUCTION: Precut post-and-beam barn design on concrete slab; R-21 spray-in foam insulation in walls, R-36 in ceiling
HEATING: Zoned in-floor radiant heat
COOLING: Single ceiling fan to exhaust warm air through loft door and cupola
ELECTRICAL: 200-amp service panel separate from home
LIGHTING: Four ceiling-hung metal-halide lights; 12 sections of twin-tube 4' fluorescent ceiling-mounted lights along both long walls
DUST COLLECTION: Grizzly 3-hp four-bag dust collector in closet; Oneida 2-hp cyclone under stairs; ceiling-mounted JDS Air-Tech 2000 air filter
AIR COMPRESSOR: Craftsman 4-hp, 15-gallon
Unisaw work station
Mike's shop lends itself to an efficient workflow. Materials stored at the back of the shop are easily loaded onto the Unisaw. The 6x6' outfeed table contains six large drawers for tool storage. A mobile scrap bin (foreground) and cutoff storage space eases cleanup and organizes usable pieces.
A wall-full of tools
Seven workstations line the north wall. A 6" dust-collection pipe fastened to the wall at about knee height passes under the first level of the wood rack. Ample flexible hose connects each tool to the pipe. Each tool has its own blast gate and is mounted on wheels.
Tablesaw outfeed table with storage plus
Behind the Unisaw is a 6x6' laminate-covered outfeed table. The smooth top allows heavy sheet goods to glide across it, and cleaning glue drips is easy. The table includes six large drawers for storing sanders, routers, and other hand tools and accessories. The opposite side is open to allow the air hose, dust pipe, and 110- and 220-volt conduits to exit through the floor.
Mike's shop floor plan
With several years' experience working in a garage with a low ceiling and precious little space, Mike planned his shop to minimize clutter and maximize workflow. All wiring and air compressor lines are under the floor. Ductwork for the dust collectors is either under the floor or secured to a wall at a low level, virtually out of sight. Two dust collectors--one for the Unisaw and one for the tools along the wall--are hidden in insulated closets to conserve space and control noise.
This 12'-long storage unit built of MDF brings organization and sanity to Mike's shop. Below the sliding mitersaw are two raised-panel doors that access storage, which includes a vacuum that automatically services the mitersaw and radial-arm saw.
Inlaid into the benchtop is a T-bolt track with tape measure, which acts as a convenient, adjustable stop for the sliding mitersaw and adjacent radial-arm saw.
Up top shop
Separated from the rest of the shop by French doors, the 12x12' paint room remains a work in progress. A pair of steel doors in the back of the room will provide plenty of ventilation once the room is ready.
Mike's command center
Mike's office is located above the paint room. The filing cabinet holds plans from past projects as well as the manuals, receipts, and paperwork for all of the tools in the shop, each within its own hanging file.
Second level access
Multiple activities are possible at this end of Mike's shop. The stairway leads to a 4x10' library and office and then on up to a storage loft.
A view from the top
An overhead view shows the vaulted ceiling's advantages. The ceiling-hung fan is not in the way when moving long stock or sheet goods. The inside of the shop is covered with intentionally unfinished shiplap knotty pine.
Enclosed dust collector
The dust collector in the closet between the wood storage racks services the seven mobile tools along one side of Mike's shop. Each tool has its own blast gate, operated by remote control. A 6" steel duct runs through the closet wall and then under the first support of the rack.
Tip of the Day
To nudge my tablesaw’s rip fence just a hair, I used to softly bump it with the palm of my hand—not... read more