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Total garage makeover

To call Ed Walker an avid reader of woodworking publications would be an understatement. The Texan creatively adapted nearly everything in his shop from book and magazine plans.

  • Bore bones to beautiful

    When Ed Walker and his wife, Nan, got their Cypress, Texas, home in 2003, his work was cut out for him. He wanted to make a lot of improvements to their home, but to do that he needed a shop, and with only a bare garage he had to start from scratch. "The garage was totally unfinished," he recalls. "Bare rafters on the ceiling, you could see tar paper through the open studs; the floor was just rough concrete where everybody had parked for years."

  • Shop specs

    TYPE: Detached garage connected to house with covered walkway.

    SIZE: 21'5"×23'6" (505 sq. ft.).

    CONSTRUCTION: 2x4 frame with drywall and paneling interior.

    FLOOR: Epoxy-coated concrete.

    HEATING & COOLING: Wall-mounted heater/air conditioner combo unit.

    ELECTRICAL: 100-amp service.

    LIGHTING: Four 4-tube fluorescent fixtures, plus task lighting.

    DUST COLLECTION: 1 12 -hp, 110-volt JDS collector with 1-micron canister filter.

  • Dust-collector central

    A dust collector with a canister filter and an elaborate ducting system forms the nexus for all of Ed's major tools.

  • Total garage makeover

    When Ed Walker bought his home in 2003, the inside of the garage offered little more than open 2x4 framing, a single wall outlet, and one ceiling light. He brought it up to date with paneled walls, a drywall ceiling, an epoxy-coated floor, and 100-amp electrical service.

  • Let the sun shine in

    On moderate days Ed enjoys opening the garage to enjoy a pleasant breeze and lots of natural light. And a wall-mounted combination heater/air conditioner helps out with extreme ttemperatures the Texas weather throws his way. Although detached from his home, the shop connects to the main house with a covered walkway. Note that Ed finds room for a few yard tools just inside the garage door.

  • Tricked-out tablesaw

    Ed's fully tricked-out tablesaw features several shop-made improvements, such as an overarm guard and dust-collection hose (see Slide 13), and a downdraft sanding table in the right extension.

  • On-the move lumber rack

    The original plan Ed used to build this rolling lumber rack called for an overall length of 6'. Ed stretched it to 7', added a row of bins on top for tools, screws, and clamps, upgraded the swivel casters to 4", and redesigned it to incorporate additional storage for short stock in the center. "Because I made it longer than the one in the book, I added space to put some shelves in the middle of it," he says.

  • Drill-press cabinet

    Because the drill press and planer cabinets serve a similar purpose in his shop, Ed designed them identically. He used 34 " birch plywood for the cabinet and doors, and 12 " ply for the drawer boxes. "The drawers don't have slides or hardware," Ed says. "Instead, I cut oversized hardboard bottoms for the drawers that slide on dadoes cut into the inside of the cabinet."

  • Dust-collection manifold

    Ed is highly sensitive to wood dust, but didn't want to drop down ducts from the ceiling. Instead, he adapted an idea he saw—where else?—in a woodworking magazine that described a central configuration that would keep duct runs as short as possible. Ed's version of a dust-collection manifold reminds him of a common Texas oil-field rig called a "Christmas tree," and in it, he dedicated six 4" ports to his major machinery. A seventh port at the top of the tree accepts 212 " flexible hose that he can connect to his drill press, extend to his workbench when using a handheld router, or attach to a vacuum nozzle for general shop cleanup chores.

  • Total garage makeover

    Although the original plans for the wings didn't call for it, Ed trimmed the corners to allow more maneuvering room around his tools.

    With the support wings in their folded position, Ed can access the rolling workbench he uses as an outfeed table for his tablesaw.

  • Total garage makeover

    For his router table, Ed mated a commercially available tabletop with fence and aluminum router mounting plate to a shop-built rolling cabinet that draws ideas from several magazine articles. Ed favors 4" casters for all his mobile tools because of their practicality. "They're a lot easier to roll around," he says. "And, to be honest, they make the cabinets a lot easier to sweep under."

  • Total garage makeover

    Ed based the design for his scrap sorter on a WOOD® magazine plan, but modified it for double duty as a mobile clamp center. Internal "steps" help sort longer stock vertically by length, while the steps create side compartments of varying depth for shorter cutoffs. For the bar clamp racks, Ed laminated 34 " poplar to create 1½" stock (something he does for a number of his projects).

  • Total garage makeover

    Based on another WOOD magazine plan, Ed's overarm tablesaw blade guard easily swings out of the way as needed, while the articulated arms holding the blade-guard shroud allow it to be raised and lowered. Ed opted to use a clear-plastic shroud that covers the blade and channels sawdust into the attached hose and the dust collector. The original WOOD magazine plan for this project is available for purchase at To further improve his tablesaw, Ed also built a plywood cover for the machine's rip fence that incorporates feather board hold-downs, plus small storage compartments for shop accessories such as pencils and tape measure.

  • Total garage makeover

    To make this WOOD magazine downdraft sanding table, Ed made a frame of 34 " poplar sized to fit between the extensions on the right side of his tablesaw. Although the original plan called for plastic laminate attached to the 34 " plywood sanding surface, Ed simply painted it after drilling the hole pattern on his drill press. The original WOOD magazine plan for this project is available for purchase at

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