You are here

The great Virginia smoke out

Dale Toms had a unique incentive to quit smoking—one new tool of his choice for every 30 days without a cigarette.

  • Dedicated outbuilding

    Measuring 32×48', Dale Toms' Bedford, Virginia, workshop is pretty good size. It has to be, because Dale needs the space to put all the tools he has acquired since he and his wife, Debbie, made an arrangement 16 years ago. Dale was a heavy smoker back then, so Debbie proposed this: For every 30 days Dale could go without a cigarette, he could buy any tool he wanted, no questions asked.

  • What makes it work

    TYPE: Dedicated outbuilding

    SIZE: 32x48'

    CONSTRUCTION: Stick-built, with brick and vinyl siding; 9' ceiling; shop sits over full basement. Walls and ceiling are 58 '' oriented strand board (OSB); floor is 34 " tongue-and-groove plywood

    HEATING: Forced-air oil furnace in basement stairwell

    COOLING: Exterior air conditioner connected to furnace ducts; one whole-house fan and two ceiling fans

    ELECTRICAL: Home upgraded to 400 amps to accommodate 125-amp service to shop via underground wire to shop sub panel

    LIGHTING: Four circuits-three for zoned fluorescent lights (8', high-output); one for incandescent lights at workstations

    DUST COLLECTION: Grizzly four-bag, 3-hp; JDS air cleaner

    AIR COMPRESSOR: DeVilbiss 60 gal., 6.5-hp

  • Easy access

    A wide driveway runs alongside Dale Toms' house, ending at the workshop loading dock.

  • From shop to deck

    Straight through the shop is the door leading to the large deck.

  • Tablesaw front and center

    The tablesaw effectively defines the center of Dale's well-lighted shop. The ceiling-hung ambient air cleaner is positioned over the main sanding area and is controlled by a timer, allowing it to operate up to an hour after Dale has finished sanding or left the shop. A row of base and wall cabinets provides plenty of storage space for router and shaper bits, finishing materials, small hand tools, hand planes, and jigs.

  • More-than-adequate circulation

    Heating and cooling vents are located in the ceiling, and a whole-house fan flanked by two ceiling fans circulates the air.

  • Zoned for sucess

    Dale positioned the tools to simplify dust collection and to keep similar operations in the same area. The center of the shop is for ripping, jointing, planing, and cutting to length; the left side for shaping, turning, scrollsawing, and sanding small items; the right side for finish-sanding, trimming, final assembly, and finishing. Every piece of equipment is stationary, except for one sander. It's on wheels and can be rolled out 18".
    Each of the three zones has an in-floor dust-collection line leading to the dust collector in the basement. Three floor sweeps are plumbed into the dust collector.

  • A wall dedicated to glue-ups

    One wall is dedicated to glue-ups. Wall-mounted clamp racks are positioned in each corner. Mounting rails spaced along the wall allow glue-ups up to 11' long. (Rails and clamp collars:; 800-645-9292.) The wall also functions as storage space. Two sets of three multiple-drawer plastic organizers obtained at a local home center each hold tacks, screws, plugs, dowels, and other accessories.

  • Sliding lathe light

    Task lighting is an important element in Dale's shop. To make this sliding light over the lathe, Dale bored a hole near one end of a 42'' piece of scrap walnut and inserted it over a length of black iron pipe. The pipe rests in wall-mounted wooden brackets. With a sliding range of 8', the light can be positioned for the best view of the project. A second task light is mounted to the wall behind the lathe.

  • A ground wire for every tool

    Dale used 4" PVC pipe for his dust-collection system, as shown here connected to the shaper. Each machine has a blast gate that Dale modified to keep dust from collecting in the grooves, thus allowing each gate to close properly. The modification included shaving off 316 " from the end of the gate that fits into the grooves. The unit is energized by a main switch and then can be activated at each station. The station switches are connected in parallel to a transformer. Each machine has a ground wire wrapped around the pipe. A sheet-metal screw is positioned every 12'' or 18'' along the length of the pipe to release any static charge inside.

  • Between-joist dust-collection lines

    Dust-collection lines penetrate the floor and are strapped between the floor joists. The dust collector, located in the basement, has a grounding rod attached. The air compressor is wired to a three-way switch, allowing power to be turned on upstairs or downstairs. Compressed air runs to all four corners of the shop through 34 '' black iron pipe.

  • Inexpensive lathe tool holders

    Lathe tools are stored in this wall-mounted holder. PVC pipes with diameters of 34 '' and 114 '' were used. Pipe lengths are 8 12 " and 11''. End caps are glued in place.

  • Slide-out hardware containers

    This handy hardware storage rack, which Dale bought at an auction, is mounted to the bottom of the wall cabinets. Clear containers make it easy to identify contents. The containers simply slide out of their slots. The yellow plastic tray hung on the wall below the containers has a funnel on one corner, making it easy to return a handful of small pieces to the container without spilling all over the floor.

  • Multipurpose mobile carts

    These mobile carts are the same height as the Unisaw and shaper. They prove especially handy when Dale needs an extra table to support 4x8' sheet goods on the saw and when using the shaper on a piece larger than the shaper table. When he isn't using them as extensions, Dale moves materials and projects from one workstation to another or uses them as assembly tables. They are made of 2x4s with 34 " medium-density fiberboard (MDF) tops. They lack lockable wheels, so Dale clamps the legs of the carts to the legs of a tool stand for stability.

Read more about

Tip of the Day

Precision pusher adjusts with a twist, not a nudge

To nudge my tablesaw’s rip fence just a hair, I used to softly bump... read more