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The work smarter not harder shop

With a shop full of jigs, mobile tools, and a crane for moving heavy objects, you might say this Wisconsin shop is a real back saver.

  • The work smarter not harder shop

    At 69 years old with no thoughts of retirement, Algoma, Wisconsin, woodworker Lynn "Jumbo" Lawrenz designed his one-man shop, left, with the intent of making things easy. From his pivoting crane—a design he borrowed from a local factory—to jigs for virtually any project, Jumbo is always looking for an easier way to do things. "I've been accused of designing a jig to make a jig," he says.

  • A real back saver

    A distinguishing feature of the shop is a pivoting jib crane with electric winch.
    It comes in handy for loading heavy sheet goods onto the tablesaw and for moving cabinets off the assembly table.

  • Sure-grip edging clamps

    Outfitted with modified edging clamps, the crane can grab and lift pretty much anything.

  • Lots of natural lighting

    A row of four windows identifies Jumbo's 24x30' shop in part of a larger outbuilding. The overhead garage door leads to a second overhead door inside and to the right.

    TYPE: Outbuilding with space divided between workshop and antique tractor storage

    SIZE: 24x30' with 9'4 12 " walls and 12 12 ' vaulted ceiling employing scissors-type roof trusses

    CONSTRUCTION: Concrete pad and steel and aluminum frame, with 3" foam insulation

    HEATING: Forced-air furnace

    COOLING: Central air-conditioning

    ELECTRICAL: Three-phase 220- and 110-amp service panel

    LIGHTING: Four 8' and two 6' high-intensity fluorescent lights located over primary work areas

    DUST COLLECTION: Two1 12 -hp Delta two-bag systems and three Delta AP300 collectors

    AIR COMPRESSOR: Three-phase 5-hp upright Ingersoll Rand T-30

  • Floor plans

    The 24x30' shop was laid out primarily to cut and reduce large pieces of incoming stock into more manageable part sizes. Occasionally, construction jobs require cutting down boards as long as 16', but usually it's the heavy 4x8' sheets of medium-density particleboard (MDP) used for cabinet work that Jumbo needs to manipulate from place to place.

  • Stock hold downs

    Stock hold-down wheels mounted to the rip fence give control to feeding sheet goods when working solo. Because the shop is 200 feet from the house, "My wife isn't too enthusiastic about making the trip down here to help me feed large materials," Jumbo says.

  • Drawer box jig

    This jig makes quick and accurate work of securely and squarely supporting the pieces when assembling drawer boxes.

  • Draw front mounting jig

    To perfectly center drawer fronts on drawer boxes, Jumbo first secures the fronts to the jig base with the sliding End Supports, illustrated below. Then he uses the Hold-Downs to position the box front, centered over the drawer front. With all the pieces securely held in place, Jumbo has both hands free to verify and then drill the mounting holes and drive the screws.

  • Bladed sandpaper cutter

    Five pieces of stock in various widths and thicknesses glued edge to edge, with a shallow rabbet to hold a hacksaw blade, give you a handy helper for tearing sandpaper to needed sizes for portable sanders and sanding blocks. Contact cement secures the blade.

  • Mobile clamp rack

    This mobile worktable has clamp storage and slots for holding Zag brand plastic hardware holders that Jumbo purchased at local home centers. The cart measures 38"Hx56"Lx38 12 "W.

  • Homemade stop system

    Used for routing the slots in the four corner posts that hold louvers in a cupola, this clever jig features a stop system that Jumbo also uses with his radial-arm saw fence. It consists of 3''-long steel bar pieces that flip up and down and are locked in place with shaft collars on a 58 '' rod. "It's accurate and enablesme to space stops tightly together if necessary," Jumbo says.

  • Handy stool toolbox

    Family and friends are always hitting up Jumbo for a handy workshop stool made entirely of workshop scraps. He makes the ends from engineered-joist scraps, but you can use 112 " plywood and solid stock instead. The stool stands 15 34 '' high and measures 25 14 '' wide. Turned upside down, the stool serves as a toolbox. The lower stretcher and slot in the top make it easily transportable. "I always give them away in pairs because people put boards atop them to make low platforms for painting and such," Jumbo says.

  • Liquid entertainment

    Jumbo's bar holds everything for entertaining, including ice and glasses, although nothing but wood shows when not in use.

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