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Look ma, no tablesaw

Instead of a tablesaw, a workbench takes center stage in David Mitchell’s shop. A leg vise (inset at left) on the back side of the 8'-long, 31-1⁄2"-deep bench provides additional clamping options.

Aseasoned woodworker walking into David Mitchell’s 16×24' detached shop will immediately notice something missing: a tablesaw. Instead, David’s workbench serves as the shop centerpiece. “I used to have a Delta 3-hp tablesaw but had to sell it during a business downturn. I find that not having a tablesaw forces me to be more creative in my woodworking.” A mitersaw, circular saw, and hand ripsaw handle many lumber-sizing chores.


His workbench is a customized version of a Michael Dunbar design. To join the legs to the stretchers, David substituted pegged through-mortise-and-tenon joints for the specified nuts and bolts. Mortises in the benchtop accept tenons on the tops of the legs. None of the joints are glued, so he can break down the bench, if needed. He also added a leg vise, and drawers that open from either side of the bench to store hand tools and accessories.

The planer, mounted to a flip-top stand, tucks away below a worksurface. On the wall above, a saw till holds handsaws and other hand tools.

David gets great satisfaction using traditional hand tools whenever he can. Still, as you look around the shop, you will see a router table, 12" planer, and drill press and a few benchtop tools including a spindle sander, 4" jointer, belt/disc sander, and mortising machine.   

A birch cabinet, finished with shellac for a warm glow, holds tools, manuals, and magazines. David built this one after his wife liked the original version so much, he had to move it into the kitchen.

An in-wall air conditioner keeps things comfortable in hot weather. In cooler temperatures, a small plug-in heater helps, but “leaves a lot to be desired,” Dave says.  

A 15'-long worksurface lines an entire wall of David’s shop. It provides a sturdy base for a machinist’s vise, plus plenty of storage. His most-often-used tools hang on nails or custom brackets on the plywood-faced walls.

David Mitchell works as Director of Enterprise Development at Columbus State University in Georgia. He’s been woodworking since the early 1980s.
Plywood lining the shop walls makes it easy to hang tools, templates, and other accessories. Looking ahead, he hopes to panel the ceiling to provide a more finished appearance. 

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