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The "over-the-top" workshop

From the outside, Mike Walker's workshop looks like a well-appointed lakeside retreat . It looks like that on the inside too—except for all the woodworking tools.

  • Obsessed with organization

    Nestled in the forest on a shore of Lake Chelan in central Washington State, Mike Walker's 1,670-square-foot workshop is the epitome of organization. From the outset, plenty of storage space and an efficient workflow dominated the planning. "I am obsessed with organization," Mike says, "and we spent a lot of time planning spaces to accommodate all of the tools and accessories."

  • About his shop

    Mike Walker in his shop.

    TYPE: Dedicated outbuilding above a three-car garage and maintenance room

    SIZE: 36x39'4'' plus 16x16' project design room (1,670 sq. ft. total)

    CONSTRUCTION: Wood frame with 2x6 studs and R-30 insulation on masonry foundation. Ceiling height ranges from 9' to 17'. Lake-facing facade has Marvin low-E bronze-tinted windows.

    HEATING: 5-ton Trane heat pump, 25-kilowatt electric furnace, and wood-burning stove

    COOLING: Trane heat pump

    ELECTRICAL: 200-amp single-phase and 200-amp three-phase service panel

    LIGHTING: Ten 2x6' skylights, forty-eight 4' fluorescent lights, ten 75-watt recessed can lights

    DUST COLLECTION: Oneida 3-hp cyclone, two JDS Air-Tech air cleaners

    AIR COMPRESSOR: 10-hp Eagle

  • Lots of light

    Skylights, fluorescent lights, canned lighting and a wall of windows give Mike sufficient illumination, day or night.

  • A penchant for play

    Creature comforts include a plasma TV and Dolby surround sound.

  • The floor plan

    Mike's shop is built into the side of a hill, which dictated the position of the 8' sliding door on the back of the shop. Materials are stored just inside the door on embedded cantilever-type racks with adjustable arms, which were framed into the wall during construction. Placing the radial-arm saw nearby eases the job of cutting boards to length. With the tablesaw in front of the slider, it can be opened easily when ripping an extra-long piece. "We wanted storage close to the door so we didn't have to cart materials all over the shop," Mike says. "And we wanted the cutoff saw close by. The next thing you use is the tablesaw and jointer. It was kind of like dominoes from there."

  • Router table riding on air

    This 42'' mobile routing table has an Incra precision router lift and Super System fence. Inside, a frame made of used truck parts and air bags allows Mike to raise the table off the floor and move it around the shop.

  • Storage space galore

    Storage space abounds. The router table's multiple drawers provide plenty of storage for a set of twist rings, plus cutters, routers, and related equipment.

  • Toggle-operated floor sweeps

    Floor sweeps with hinged doors help keep the shop floor clean. The original plan was to have the system activated by a magnetic switch when the door was lifted. That was abandoned because the vacuum pressure would slam the door shut while the collector continued to run and clear ducts. A toggle switch just below the door proved to be an adequate substitute.

  • A place for everything

    Drawers under the tablesaw provide an abundance of storage space. These double-sided vertical drawers were made from a single sheet of 4x10' slot wall covered with knotty pine laminate. Two pieces of slot wall were sandwiched in a 2'' alder frame. They glide out easily on full-extension 60'' extra-heavy-duty slides. The cabinet is through-bolted to the floor for stability.

  • Accessory storage

    A shallow spot to the left of the cabinet and in front of the saw motor houses a miter gauge, tensioning jig, and other accessories.

  • A drawer for drills

    The drawer was designed to store cordless drills, batteries, and chargers. It is equipped with a timer to prevent chargers from overheating.

  • Clamps on the move

    Rather than mount his clamps on the walls, Mike built this mobile cart.

  • Stuck storage

    This wood storage rack, located just inside the 8' sliding door, makes unloading of sheet goods and solid stock efficient.

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