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Shop Tyme

Art and science are often at odds, but in Tyme’s La Mesa, Calif., shop the two have forged an equal, complementary partnership.

Tyme (he goes by the single name) enjoyed careers ranging from electrician to his current profession as an orthopedic health specialist, but his life always revolved around artistic pursuits as well. The separate disciplines dovetail nicely in both the design and function of his elaborate workshop.

Tyme’s shop is a model of cleanliness and comfort: almost no dust anywhere, excellent lighting, and cushioned floor mats cover all work areas.

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Shop Specs

From top):  Tyme’s shop has entrances on three sides. His air compressor and dust collector occupy the first two stalls of the shop’s utility extension. The next three stalls hold Tyme’s vacuum pump, phase converter, air dryer, and dust filters.

Dedicated building.
SIZE: 20×36' (720 sq ft); 3×16' utility extension houses dust collector and filters, vacuum pump, compressor, air dryer and phase converter.
CONSTRUCTION: Frame construction.
HEATING & COOLING: Southern California location requires no heat; attic ventilation draws air through shop for cooling.
ELECTRICAL: 200-amp service with all machines on separate circuits; 10-hp three-phase converter.
LIGHTING: 18 two-tube fluorescent fixtures.
DUST COLLECTION: 5-hp, 220-volt Oneida cyclone.
AIR COMPRESSOR: 5-hp, 60-gal. Curtis; four hose reels and two additional air outlets.

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Floor Plan

Tyme enjoys plenty of natural light from his shop’s 10 windows (his entry doors also have windows). For energy efficiency and sound dampening, he installed vinyl, dual-pane windows with 14 " glass in each.

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To maximize the 8' height of his shop-and to prevent accidentally hitting a light with a long piece of stock-Tyme flush-mounted all his light fixtures into the ceiling. He also arranged lighting in four distinct zones, and made each zone individually controllable.

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Tyme considered building a clamp cart-even had materials ready to go to build one-but decided against it. His projects require a variety of clamp types (and lots of them), and he didn’t want to limit himself to the smaller capacity of a movable rack. His bar clamps at right hang “backward” by their handles to prevent them from falling.

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Tyme uses a pair of grinders for sharpening, each running at a different speed to suit the sharpening task; the 6" machine runs at 1,800 rpm and the 7" unit at 3,600 rpm. The cabinet below holds sharpening stones and accessories, as well as other tools.



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Dust Collection

Dust-collection ducts drop from the ceiling to all major machines, while portable vacuums, like the Festool unit tucked under his main workbench, handle spot collection tasks. The flexible plastic strips on the back of the bench keep stray dust off the tools stored there.

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Drawer Labels

The lower portion of Tyme’s mitersaw station serves as one of the main storage cabinets in his shop. Every drawer has labels on the outside (and sometimes on the inside) so there’s no doubt what each contains and where things belong.

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Part Bins

Several of the mitersaw station’s storage drawers were sized specifically to fit commercially available parts bins, which nest perfectly into the drawers.

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Fitted Inserts

Tool drawers have fitted inserts cut freehand with a router and 14 " straight bit that exactly fit the tools they contain, like that for his squares and calipers.

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Chisel Slots

Chisels nest securely in slots to keep them from rolling.

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Mitersaw Station

Because of its location between two entrances, Tyme chose the mitersaw station to store his drills and charging center. “Whenever I’m doing projects all over the house and yard, I can come in the door right there and grab one quick,“ he says. 

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Drill Press

As he did with other major tools, Tyme customized his Delta 16" drill press with an eye toward combining mobility, efficiency, and logical storage. The drill itself is on a rolling base, while the storage cabinet has casters of its own. “If I ever need to lower that table down all the way to handle something large, the cabinet rolls right out of the way,” he says. Construction consists of 34 " birch plywood, laminate coating on worksurfaces, and alder trim and drawer fronts to match other shop cabinets. The drill-press table features four T-tracks for toggle clamps, and extendable work-support rollers. Each of the cabinet’s six drawers (inset) is categorized as to the type of drill bit or accessory it holds.


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Although already a skilled carpenter and electrician, Tyme took several courses through the Palomar College Cabinet and Furniture Technology program in San Marcos, Calif. His first class resulted in this sturdy 36x74" workbench crafted in maple with cocobolo accents.

Tyme used recycled maple that came from shelving at an old J.C. Penney store for the top, orienting any grooves or mounting holes to the inside when he did the glue-up. The bench is every bit as versatile as all of his other shop-made furniture. “All the dividers in the lower section are in grooves, so I can adjust the cubbyholes to any size depending on what tools I want to keep there.”

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Lathe Cabinet

Whenever possible, Tyme groups his machine areas near complementary storage areas. For example, the shop sharpening station is only a few steps to the right of Tyme’s massive Oneway lathe. Above the sharpening station, a pair of cabinets hold lathe tools and accessories, keeping them near both the lathe and the grinding wheels. Tyme used oak plywood and alder trim for the cabinets.

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Sanding Center

This sanding center pairs a combo belt/disc sander with an oscillating spindle sander; both connect to the dust-collection system through the unit base.

The casters on the sanding center are typical of those throughout the shop. Tyme teamed a pair of standard nonswivel casters with a pair of swiveling casters of his own design made with in-line toggle clamps. The clamp-casters operate easily with foot pressure, preventing repetitive bending over which he finds hard on his back.


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Sanding Disk Rack

With a frame made of 34 " oak, Tyme’s sanding disc rack is a fast shop solution made on the fly. “This was just a quickie, not-even-thinking-about-it project,” he says. “When I’m doing so many projects around this place, I want to grab maybe 10 discs fast or ask my grandkids to grab some. They can just go in and get a handful, and that was the whole purpose of it.”

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“Backward” Clamp Rack

Many clamp racks are oriented so the bar slides into place first, but Tyme made a more efficient version. “The problem with clamp racks that have them oriented the other way is that when you hang more clamps in a row below, when you reach for a clamp it’ll knock some of the others hanging above off the rack,” he explains. “These simply can’t fall off.” The arrangement also allows for multiple   shelves, increasing the number of clamps per linear foot. Tyme marks each clamp head with the clamp’s capacity.

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Overarm Accessory Holder

The age-old shop dilemma of never having a pencil when you need one never troubles Tyme. In addition to a row of several pencils, Tyme’s overarm accessory holder has an angled platform for clipboard and project plans, a calculator, and digital measuring and angle-setting devices for his tablesaw. Because the digital accessories have magnetic bases, he put a strip of metal into the rack that holds them securely in place. A small cabinet with a hinged acrylic door for tablesaw safety items is just as accessible. “For years I just kept them on a shelf, but whenever I needed them I’d have to wipe the dust off,” he says. “The cabinet keeps them clean, especially the glasses.”

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Pergola-Style Platform

Tyme built this pergola-style yoga platform in the garden adjacent to his home using stained redwood for the frame, and a sustainably grown tropical hardwood called Mangaris for the deck.

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