Design a Workshop

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Introduction: Design a Workshop

How I designed my new workshop.

Step 1: Make a Model

I have been a fan of this site for a while and never contributed before but today browsing one of the projects here I was struck by the crudeness of one craftperson's workshop, so I am posting this to maybe inspire some others to get their stuff together.

When I had to move all of my stuff out of my old place to my new place I became somewhat concerned as to where I should put everything. I really did not want to have to move things around too many times. Most of my stuff is heavy, some weighs upwards of a half a ton. So I knew what I had, and I knew where it all had to fit, so I made a model of it all.

The first time I was exposed to this idea in a book I laughed at the fellow doing it. When it came my turn to setup a new shop it didn't seem so funny after all. It is way easier to move little cardboard models around than full sized objects! Oh, and for all you graph paper cutout types out there it is far too easy to lie in 2D. I have gone the graph paper/cutout route before. That has never struck me as being very silly, just not as effective.

I used the architectural scale 1/4 inch to the foot as my scale. Heck, after a while it was sort of fun to make scale models of all of my junk. In the process I even remade a few of the models nicer than I had initially. The models are made out of scrap cardboard, and toothpicks, hotglued together, then painted with craft paint. Nothing too fancy there. But everything is to scale.

See the little scale me in the model? It was a handy visual aid for me to see height relationships, or how I'd fit in the environment. OK maybe the minime was going a bit too far? All I wanted was sharks with laser beams, whoah wait a minute. That is another story.

Step 2: I Started With a Blank Canvas

Starting with a blank canvas I did what most artists would do, I painted it! You can paint your workshop any color that you like as long as it is white. 15 hours later, I primed, then painted, so really I painted it twice, I had a very bright reflective area to work with.

Step 3: The End of the Beginning

All painted up and much brighter. There is nothing worse than working on a project in a dingy, dark workshop, thinking of how good a job you did, only to take your masterpiece out to someplace with good lighting, and see how crappy it really is! This has happened to me in the past.

Step 4: Models to Reality

Here is the shop with things placed as per the model. The bench in the foreground of this picture is a direct result of the modelling process. I would have never thought to have made it except for messing with the model. See in my design criteria I still wanted to be able to get a vehicle into the garage. So, that meant I could only dedicate half of the garage to my work area.

But in arranging things with my model at one point I kept moving the one bench back and forth, back and forth, saying I'd like it here, but I need to have it here. I showed someone the model and their comment was, what is this piece of cardboard here? Then it struck me! Yes, what is that piece of cardboard? It was the dolly for my milling machine that did not figure into the new shop at that point. But it did represent about $160 in heavy duty castors, which I was loathe not to put to good use.

So I decided to make that rolling bench, and now just like I did in the model I can move that bench back and forth, back and forth ... For that one idea alone the time I spent in making the model was time well spent I feel. With the bench rolled in, as it is in this picture, everything only takes up about a third of the garage. Really, had that bench been fixed at halfway it'd have been tight to have gotten a vehicle in and out of the garage. As it is, it is easy now.

I am not done yet completely setting up my workshop, I mean when is anyone ever done with such a thing? But I have a solid foundation to build on, and additions I have have made have worked out well so far. It really is a joy to work in too. I feel that the planned setup enhances the work I perform in my shop.

Eventually when funds permit I am going to build a detached outbuilding, and have that as my dedicated workshop, so all of this is just temporary, but we all know how long these temporary situations can last. And you know I'll model that too! Really, remember the nutcase in the book I read about in the beginning? His models were these little wooden models of his tools, yeah mine will be too I think. It is fun to make stuff in my new shop.

BTW, I have finally figured out exactly what the word workshop really means. You see it is a compound word composed of work, and shop. You're always working on it, and constantly shopping for new things for it too!

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65 Comments

This is a great effort you put in  here, my hat off.
It looks like it worked for you very well, but I find it much easier to work on a 3D CAD software to design a project like this.
Accurate in dimension down to the mm, detailed a much as you like to do it, and allot faster if you want changes like e dust collector network system.
Personally I prefer it this way.
Great job 

I made my model in some spare time I had over the course of two days. Though I messed around with it for about two weeks. It worked for me a lot better than not doing it. Everything fit where planned on the model so accuracy wasn't an issue. I can imagine too much detail leading to losing clarity. I don't see gluing on that dust collector taking me more than a moment. I don't find 3D CAD particularly easy to work with, and even professionals use physical 3D models for their well substance I suppose. 3D computer models are still sadly represented in 2D even today.

as a miniatures enthusiast myself, I would not find the table power tool you have there nearly as appealing in a 3D computer model - you can't really hold the computer model unless you "print" it (see 3D printing)

I'm with you there. There is just something much more tangible about a solid physical model, as opposed to computer modeling. I'm not saying that computer modeling is completely worthless. But for something like this I think physical models have some kind of a perceptual edge to them.

Being able to pick them up, move my head around, etc. just allowed me a greater insight during the process. It's just more natural I guess? Beats me, but I'm convinced there is an advantage in this instance with using actual physical models. Something in my head tells me that is true, and that is good enough for me. In fact that alone might just be justification in, and of, itself right there. The mere fact that I think it is better makes it better.

Because this is all just a thought process aid anyways. So whatever allows me to think better is better. For me this is it too.

I can't believe the detail you put into this! wow!

The reality has become more complicated than this model represents. But I attribute the overall success of my setup to the solid foundation I was able to assemble by following the plan I designed with this model WHen I take some new pictures I will have to post them here.

pfred1 vs pfred2 - alter-egos?

More like when I moved my email address changed, and I was unable to recover my original account. Not the worst thing that happened moving, I can assure you! I broke my digital camera in all of the excitement. So dumb how it happened too. But then again, isn't it always that way?

It's not "detail" when you can organize principles; and reuse them. Think about that. pfred recognizes model failures, and discovers principles.

I took one look at the main photo of the model and was hooked. It didn't matter what you were using it for after that. =)

I just got into making miniatures not too long ago, and although I used to build stuff out of cardboard a lot when I was a kid, I've been making my models (starting with a two-story house from a dream I had earlier this year) out of plywood and balsa wood.

I build in 1:72 scale, which kind of worked out great, since a kit of my favorite helicopter (AH-6 Little Bird) is found in this scale, and many of our old Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars are supposedly in this scale as well, which allows me to use them as vehicles in the model itself. =D

Also, this line had me dying of laughter. -> "You can paint your workshop any color that you like as long as it is white." xD