After his retirement, Eric Ralston bought 2 1/2 acres of land in northern Ohio and built a home and the shell of a two-story, 24×24' garage.

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A woodstove supplies heat during the winter. The workbench supports sanding operations, with a downdraft table to collect dust.

After his retirement, Eric Ralston bought 212 acres of land in northern Ohio and built a home and the shell of a two-story, 24×24' garage. He also purchased the Complete Digital Archive of WOOD® magazine to mine for ideas and plans when building out his shop later.

When that time came, Eric walled off a 12×12' section of the garage to store a garden tractor, dust collector, and larger woodworking tools. The main L-shape shop area includes four workbenches: three based on a plan from WOOD issue 163 (June/July 2005), and the fourth from WOOD's Idea Shop 3 in issues 102 (Winter 1997) and 103 (February 1998).

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Eric walled off the machines that generate the most noise and dust in a separate area. The garage door eases unloading of lumber and materials.
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Eric designed his woodshop with an attached greenhouse to support his gardening hobby. The second floor will house an office, exercise area, and finishing room.

All four benchtops sport replaceable hardboard coverings, edged with hardwood. Eric extended his fourth workbench to create a mitersaw station with a dust hood, scrap bin, and a fold-down extension inspired by Idea Shop 2000 (issue 119, December 1999). At the opposite end, he mounted a dovetail jig, with a dust port. Eric secured most of his benchtop tools on removable bases that he attaches to one of the workbenches.

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This long workbench houses a flip-up router table and scrollsaw (not shown) that tuck inside the cabinet when not in use.
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Eric uses the workbench on the right for layout, assembly, and finishing. Tucked beneath it are three tool totes and a holder with a roll of kraft paper that protects the benchtop from glue squeeze-out and finish spills.

To maximize space, many tools rest on mobile bases. Frequently needed tools and accessories hang on pegboard behind three of the workbenches. The 10' ceiling height facilitates moving longer boards. Sheet goods and lumber store on mobile racks in another garage.

For dust collection, Eric upgraded a standard two-bag collector with a purchased cyclone and pleated filter. He ran fixed ducts to the stationary tools, with flex hose connected to mobile tools as needed.

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Eric separated his dust collector's filter housing and motor and mounted them on the wall. A purchased cyclone system collects larger chips into a metal trash can.

Two stackable assembly stands (WOOD issue 225, May 2014), two 3-in-1 work supports (issue 135, September 2001), and a workstation for his air compressor (issue 190, May 2009) also store in the garage. Eric plumbed air from the compressor to the other parts of the shop.

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Securing a drill press and grinder to bolt-on bases allows for mounting them to a bench, then storing them away to clear the benchtop.

After moving 13 times during his career and never having much more than a workbench, Eric says he hopes to refine his woodworking by building furniture using cherry, oak, and beech he's already milled from his current property.

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Eric is a retired engineer who still plays more than 100 rounds of golf a year. His woodworking mainly involves projects around the house and property.