Bill Bélanger was so put off by a contactor’s estimate for a custom mirror frame that he decided to build his own.
The shop centerpiece is a Felder sliding tablesaw. Bill programs the height and tilt of the blade, plus the width of the cut from a computer screen. A small blade ahead of the main blade scores the bottom of the panel, eliminating tear-out.a

Bill Bélanger was so put off by a contactor's estimate for a custom mirror frame that he decided to build his own—all he needed to do first was build a woodworking bench on which to construct it. That bench and the frame that followed became Bill's gateway to a new pastime and a new workshop. In three short years he journeyed from owning only a few tools to a well-equipped 1,200-square-foot backyard retreat. Knotty cedar covers the walls, and 5 12 "-wide white-pine plank flooring laid at a diagonal gives Bill a comfortable floor to work on. He says, "Most days I wear slippers in my shop." Bill's shop includes the main floor shown in the floor plan, plus a basement, home to the air compressor, 5-hp cyclone dust collector, and additional storage. The 6" Nordfab Quick-Fit main ducts travel across the basement ceiling, then extend through the main floor and connect to 4" flex hose attached to the power tools.

Bill's ideal retreat includes basement storage that also serves as a two-car garage. The second story houses a lumber loft with two 30'-long racks mounted on opposite walls.

Sure, the shop is palatial, but to Bill, it's been a perfect investment: "It's a hobby! It doesn't have to make sense."

A 30×90" workbench built three years ago was Bill's first project. The ash top disassembles, allowing him to resurface the 12"-wide sections in his planer.