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Century-old Converted Workshop

Inside of workshop. Many tools, cabinets with workbench in middle of shop.

Illustration of floor plan of well designed shop.

Nestled behind a 110-year old Victorian home in the Catskill Mountains, a three-story carriage house tucked into the side of a hill serves as Tom Jeffers’s woodworking retreat. The bottom level stores primarily lawn and garden equipment; the second story, with an at-grade entrance, houses the woodshop; and the attic provides storage for lumber and miscellaneous items.

Outside view of workshop in summer. Two stories building with old gas pump in front.
Tom’s converted and character-rich carriage house provides an idyllic setting for his workshop.

When Tom decided to build out his shop, he stripped the walls down to the framework and had foam insulation sprayed into the exterior walls. After installing oriented-strand board (OSB) sheets over the original rough-lumber floor, he topped it off with vinyl interlocking tiles for comfort.

Workbench under staircase. Plastic bins under workbench.
The area beneath the attic stairs provides wall space for hanging tools. Plastic totes under the bench organize various electrical, plumbing, and hardware supplies.

Several racks holding up long boards.
Tom uses the attic for overflow storage. Lumber racks keep lumber high and dry.

To save space, Tom mounted his benchtop tools on full-extension, heavy-duty drawer slides (rated for 100 pounds) on top of the cabinets. To use each tool, he extends the base past the front of the bench for easy access. Tom says the slides have no problem holding the weight of the various tools, even his benchtop planer.

For power, Tom had an electrician install a 100-amp subpanel and a few electrical drops from the ceiling that provide easy access to power in the middle of the shop. He mounted to the ceiling two electric hoists that he uses for heavy lifting. 

Shop wall with many different clamps, measuring tools, and bits plus more.
To store clamps and small hand tools, Tom traced the outline of each tool on the wall. This way, he can tell in an instant which items are missing.

Because Tom’s shop measures less than 500 square feet, he takes full advantage of wall space and under-bench storage. Lots of drawers and storage bins help him keep things organized and out of the way. He also utilizes the space under the attic stairs.

Organized wall with various jig, tablesaw inserts, and tablesaw blades hanging on it.
Tom built racks to hold all his tablesaw and circular-saw blades. Tablesaw accessories hang nearby.

Hoist hanging from ceiling, attached to a metal grip that is holding a board.
Using a Gorilla Gripper attached to an electric hoist, Tom can easily lift and maneuver sheet goods around the shop.

Tom has one regret and offers this advice: “If you are putting in a shop, spend the money and the time to put in your dust collection as the first item of business.” He wishes he had installed his dust collector in the lower level and figured out how to run the ductwork before all his tools were in place. Moving the dust collector is a future project, Tom says. 

Tom sitting in his shop with wife standing behind him.
After retirement, Tom Jeffers and his wife, Connie, moved east from California and found their little piece of heaven in New York state’s Catskills.

Inside of workshop. Many tools, cabinets with workbench in middle of shop.
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