You are here

The easy-to-maintain workshop getaway

When Iowa woodworker Rod Cox added a workshop to the back of his cramped two-car garage (his old workshop), he had one thing in mind—elbow room.

  • Added elbow room

    Actually, Rod Cox, native of St. Paul, a farm town in southeast Iowa (population 118), entertained a barnful of ideas about the construction and features of his new shop. When he decided that his detached two-car garage workshop had too many demands placed upon it--mainly, the parking of his pickup, wife Jolene's car, and two Victory motorcycles--he made his big move. He designed and then contracted the building of a 30x36' addition onto the back of his garage. To allow room for his ceiling lights and dust-collection ducting, he designed a 9' ceiling. The attic above the ceiling, accessed by a ceiling door and drop-down ladder, provides plenty of secondary storage.

  • Added elbow room

    Rod relied on store-bought Sears cabinets, carts, and countertops for the finishing center shown here and elsewhere in the shop so he could devote more time to building furniture projects.


    TYPE: Addition to a two-car detached garage

    SIZE: 9' ceiling x 30' wide x 36' long; 1,080 sq. ft. (including shop office)

    CONSTRUCTION: Concrete pad; insulated 2x4 wall framing; one-car-wide garage door; two hinged doors-one to attached garage and one to outside. Interior walls and ceiling are painted exterior- textured hardboard siding.

    HEATING: Thermostat-controlled hot-water lines installed in concrete floor and connected to water heater in house

    COOLING: 220-volt, 28,000-Btu air conditioner

    ELECTRICAL: 100-amp service panel

    LIGHTING: Eleven 8'-long,110-watt fluorescent ceiling fixtures

    DUST COLLECTION: Penn State 2-hp cyclone with .5-micron filter cartridges; Delta 1,200-cfm (cubic ft./minute) ambient air cleaner; two shop vacuums

    AIR COMPRESSOR: 110-volt, two-stage, oil-free pump; 175 lbs. maximum psi

  • Designed for dust collection

    Rod's 2-hp cyclone dust collector stands only a few feet away from those tools that make the most chips and sawdust, allowing for maximum suction. Note the door to his shop office.

  • Design central

    From his enclosed 7x10' shop office, Rod draws his project designs on a CAD program and researches hardware and tool purchases on the Internet.

  • The floor plan

    Rod worked out his floor plan for a smooth "raw material flow." He organized his machine and hand-tool locations in a way that minimizes walking from operation to operation. For instance, he'll first rough-cut a piece of stock to length at the radial-arm saw, and then rip it on the tablesaw, the next machine over. Moving a few steps to his left, he'll joint and plane the workpiece, preparing it for use in a project.

  • Maple and mulberry workbench

    "This is one of my favorite designs," says Rod of his workbench. Made from maple and local mulberry (the dark wood), its sides showcase raised panels, while the 4"-square legs adjust up and down as needed. Behind the front door is a shelf mounted on full-extension drawer slides, where Rod keeps his routers. The two neighboring drawers mount similarly and house sanders, biscuit joiners, and a jigsaw. Power strips that connect to an overhead drop cord supply plenty of juice.

  • Pipe clamp support U-blocks

    You can support pipe clamps during panel glue-ups with Rod's doglike U-blocks. To make a matching pair, first cut a 1 12 "-thick piece to the dimensions shown at left. Then drill the centered dowel holes on opposite edges. Next, drill either a 34 " or 1" hole (based on the diameters of pipes needing support) through the face of the block at center. Cut the blocks in half where shown, and then cut and glue in the dowels sized to fit the dogholes in your benchtop. During use, place a pair of U-blocks under each pipe, as shown.

    For more in-depth information on gluing and clamping visit our Gluing and Clamping section in the WOOD Store.

  • Big-time drill-press workstation

    To convert his machinist's drill press into a full-service woodworker's drill-press workstation, Rod built this11/2 x 21 x 49" oak fixture that slips over the existing metal table. It includes an Incra track system, fence, hold-downs, and ShopStops for making spot-on repeatable drilling setups (; 972-242-9975). Shelf drawers at left and right slide out, revealing WOOD® magazine's drill-press speed chart and hole-sizing chart for quick reference. To get your free charts, go to

  • Dust-free radial-arm saw workstation

    Located beneath Rod's board storage rack that consists of metal brackets and standards is his dual-purpose radial-arm saw cabinet. Capable of supporting boards up to 12' long, the workstation features a full-length Kreg fence system, complete with an inch scale and a pair of stops (; 800-447-8638). Hidden behind the center cabinet door is a shop-vacuum dust collector that automatically turns on and pulls down sawdust from the cutoff area during sawing operations.

  • Super-simple clamp rack

    Rod says he can store an assortment of 90 clamps on this simply constructed wall-mounted unit. Made from inexpensive pine, it offers gripping shelves and dowels for organizing and keeping anything from pipe clamps to one-hand bar clamps to hand clamps.

  • 4-in-1 tool dock

    A variety of benchtop power tools on the wall rack take turns docking on this accommodating mobile cabinet that Rod designed and built. Same-size particleboard bases secured to a scrollsaw, oscillating spindle/belt sander, disc/strip sander, and mortising machine fit neatly into the cabinet's recessed top, where they are pinned firmly in place with knob-release hold-downs. Shelves behind double doors and a drawer offer handy storage for tool accessories.

  • V-block nailing jig for angled face frames

    Need a face frame for something like a five-sided cabinet? How about an eight-sided cabinet? You can have your own with a nailing jig configured like this one. This basic design consists of four V-blocks cut to the angle of the desired angled face frame and fastened to a base, with a stopblock located at one end.

  • Nailing for tight joints

    When in use, as shown, hold the mating pieces tightly together and against the stopblock. Then locate the glue blocks and fix them in place using yellow glue and a nail gun.

Read more about

Tip of the Day

Let your guard down for circ-saw safety

I added a 1⁄8 " hardboard auxiliary zero-clearance plate to my circular saw to improve the cut... read more