Tips for planning your woodworking place

As I've been telling you in previous article "Having a specific place to do your woodworking" , i'll continue with a series of tips planning your woodworking place:

• Selecting the right workbench for your situation is an all- important step since it will be the center of your woodworking activity. Full-size workbenches typically measure 6' to 8' long bench in these sizes may not work for you. Or, standard heights may prove uncomfortable. So, obviously, you'll have to do some tailoring. A good rule of thumb to remember is that working height should be about even with your hipbone, but decide what will be best for you.

You can either buy or build a workbench that suits your needs. Ready-built ones, in kit form, are available from the simplest made of steel and particleboard to the most elaborate of joined oak or maple.

If you build your own, no matter what its finished size, use sturdy materials and strong fasteners that results in a durable, steady work surface.

• Storage for tools and liquids as well as many of the other supplies you'll accumulate is a must. Otherwise, they'll quickly clutter up the shop and make any project more difficult. Store small hand tools within easy reach on a rack made of perforated hardboard. Use inexpensive plastic organizers to hold screws, bolts, and other hardware. Flammable and toxic liquids, such as thinner, glue, and paints, as well as power tools, should be stored in locked cabinets or other safe places away from curious young ones.

• Plan for proper lighting. Have one or two overhead lights for general illumination and several more concentrated fixtures for task lighting.

• A minimum electrical supply for power tools and lighting is one 20-amp circuit with ground fault protection. Larger shops should have one circuit for power tools and another for lighting. Position outlets around the shop so power is never far away.

An exhaust fan capable of changing shop air every four minutes provides adequate ventilation. Determine the size fan you need by figuring the cubic feet in your shop (length*width*height). You'll welcome this addition when gluing and finishing.

• Keep emergencies in mind. For warning against fire, you'll want to install a smoke detector. If one starts, have a good-size ABC-rated fire extinguisher handy. Battery- powered lights should be within reach in case of power failure. And a fully equipped first-aid kit will help you deal with injuries should they occur.

• Keeping the shop clean adds to safety and work efficiency. A broom and large dustpan are minimum. A shop vacuum is better. You'll also need a metal trash container with a tight-fitting lid to hold all the waste material you'll generate from project to project.

• A pair of sawhorses is a necessity for supporting bulky sheet goods and lengths of lumber while sawing or measuring. If space will be at a premium, consider buying the hinged, metal leg horses or the metal bracket type, both of which are easily disassembled for storage. You can build your own of scrap wood easily, and they'll be sturdier, but they will take up room.

• Lumber, hardwood, and sheet goods require storage, too. All wood should be kept off a con¬crete floor or it will take in moisture. Construct flat racks for your woods if you have the space. Otherwise, sheet goods can stand on edge, file card fashion, if propped so they won't bend or bow. Floor space may be limited, so look above for the possibility of overhead storage.

Once set up with the basics, you'll be able to work comfortably and efficiently, adding touches as you go along to complete your workshop.