Shop Notes




Shop Notes
My Studio Layout

Iíve always had a personal curiosity about how other woodturners organize their workspaces.  When I visit with other Gulf Coast Woodturners, or when I am browsing woodturning sites on the Internet, shop/studio organization is of interest to me.  Iíve picked up a lot of ideas in the process, some of which have found their way into my own studio. 

Most woodturners are not blessed with unlimited workspaceóthatís certainly true in my case.  My own studio fits into a slightly oversized garage bay.  When I purchased my Oneway lathe in 1996, I had a contractor enlarge my 2-Ĺ bay garage to three full bays.  A/C and heating units were added to the ďnewĒ bay, and it was separated from the other two by an interior wall.  This allows me to control dust and keep heat and cold out.  At 22í by 14í, itís snug, less than Iíd like to have, but adequate with careful organization.   

(Click images for a larger view)

Here are some pictures of how Iíve organized my studio.  My lathe is at the center of the studio.  Support equipment, tools and work areas surround it.  At one end of the lathe (the near side in this picture) I have a Shopsmith dust collector, which has a hose and nozzle positioned near the lathe spindle.  I run the dust collector when I am turning dry wood or when I am sanding.  Additional dust is gathered by the studio's HVAC system.   I also wear a dust mask when sanding.  I'd prefer to have the Shopsmith dust collector outside of my studio to reduce noise, but that's not practical at this time, so I wear earplugs when running the system.

Tool Caddy

A tool caddy with storage drawers sits adjacent to the lathe.  Itís mounted on four universal casters for mobility and can be conveniently positioned to accommodate either inboard or outboard turning.  Itís shown here and in the previous picture with one of four containment curtains dropped behind it (to eliminate background clutter in the picture).  

Although not shown in its entirety, the containment system consists of four nylon shower curtains connected to two 10-foot sections of PVC pipe that have been joined together to form a circle, which in turn is suspended from the ceiling by light-duty chain.  Dropping the curtains when Iím turning wet wood keeps the shavings in about a 6í circle around the lathe and keeps any spray from soaking nearby equipment.  

The containment system helps keep my small studio clean . . . when I remember to use it.  


A Shopsmith Mark V and a Shopsmith Power Station (shown here with the band saw) sit at the far end of the studio.  In addition to the band saw, I also have a Shopsmith belt sander.  The wall behind the equipment is a storage area for Shopsmith-related accessories.   A portable buffing system sits on the large Shopsmith table.     

I use two chainsaws to prepare timber for turning.  Outside of the studio, I use an 18" Stihl gas chainsaw (shown below the Mark V) and inside the studio, I use a 16" Craftsman electric chainsaw (not shown).

Drying Cart

A cart holds drying/dried items until they are ready to be re-turned.  I put green wood turnings in paper grocery bags during the first two to four weeks of the drying process.  I check them after the first 48-hours and then once or twice again until I remove them from the bags. 

I look for two things when I check them: signs of splits (which I stabilize with cyanoacrylate glue) and fungus fuzz (which I treat with 20% bleach solution).

In a small studio like mine, itís difficult to apply protective finishes to completed items and turn (or sand) at the same time.  Dust seems to find its way into the drying finish.  Options are limitedóeither turn or finish, OR find another solution.  I opted for the latter.  

Drying Chamber

This picture shows a drying chamber I built that effectively keeps the dust away from wet finishes while they are drying.  It consists of three hinged pieces (left and right sides and the back) that fold flat when not in use.  The top and front of the chamber is a piece of heavy gauge cardboard that fits snuggly against the hinged frame.  The whole assembly sits on top of a chest freezer that shares my studio.  (By the way, the clip light shown in the picture was added to provide extra light for the picture.) 

The freezer doubles as a valuable work surface when not being used for the drying chamber.  One of the things I use it for is spraying.  I have a HVLP system and like to spray General Finishesí water-based Polyurethane & Acrylic Blend lacquer on lighter colored woods that I donít want to darken with oil finishes.  I use a shop made turntable that sits on top of the chest freezer.  You can see the turntable (hanging vertically) over the drying cart in the previous picture.  The table is powered by an industrial motor designed for slow speed operation (60 rpm).  I further reduced the speed with pulleys and belts to 24 rpm.  With my turned item slowly rotating on the table, I only have to hold my HVLP spray gun at one radial position (along a vertical axis) to get even application of the lacquer.   It's very effective.