Converting my shop, again

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Dec 26, 2008
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Crewe, Cheshire, UK
About 3 years ago I rebuilt my workshop, unfortunately things started to go pear shaped in my life after that, but to cut a long story short, I have lost a lot more of my mobility and my shop was not the ideal place for me to work in. Now I need to sit down most of the time, so over the last few months, with some help from my grandson, we have been making it a better place for me to work.

The first thing I had to do was get rid of my old workbench, I couldn't get my knees under it and it wasn't ideal for storage, plus a load of tooling and machines I will never use again went as well, they all went to good causes as freebies. I am really pushed for room in my shop, and now, it has to justify it's space, or it is gone.
So I bought a cheapo pressed steel bench, but once it was fixed to the wall, everything went completely rigid and perfect for storage of all my precision instruments.

Little would you believe it, the boards around the bench and the backboard and shelf for tailstock storage actually took me about two weeks to complete, five minutes here, ten minutes there, purely because it required me to stand to do it.
But now it is to this stage, I will be able to sit down to finish it off. The side boards are to protect the work surface, as I have a lathe on one side and a mill on the other, and my bench used to get covered in swarf. I'm hoping these boards will stop most of that.


Over the last couple of years, I have been making tooling to fit both my lathe tailstock, lathe nose and other bits to allow me to swap over tooling between lathe and mill, so my small tailstock tooling rack was getting very full. This new shelf solves the storage problem, and gives me room to expand it further if needs be.


How often do you have to fold up your plans when you finish work for the day, or even have a problem hanging them up somewhere?

Well a very good friend gave me a shelf with side bearing runners, and it was duly fixed under my long machinery bench. It is nearly four feet wide and two feet deep, perfect for blutacking my plans to and sliding in and out when needed. It hangs about 1.5" lower than the frame, so if the made components will fit, they can be stored on there as well.


Many of you will remember my sidekick 'Bandit'. Well he has now retired from helping me in my shop and has gone to look after my better half, her needs are more than mine.

This is my new 4 months old workshop mate, called 'Turpin', and just like his namesake, if it isn't bolted down, it disappears into his basket, a true highwayman.
Unfortunately, he will only grow to about half of Bandit's size, he is a 'teacup' Jack Russell, and he has already learned to hide under the lathe when I am searching for him (about 4" clearance under the brake pedal).


So as I progress around my shop, fixing it up for me to work in, I will keep you updated. I am hoping to be cutting metal again in a couple of months, so I can finish off all the projects that have been waiting on the sidelines for the last couple of years.

Nice job John, looks like a good use of space. Love the dog, looks like a cheeky bugger. I have a rather senile cat which frequents my shed these days, talks alot. I use to have a deaf cat which would hang out in the shed with me a few years ago which was a bit scary at times as it could not hear anything it did not shy from anything, dropsaws, grinders, lathes etc, more than once it jumped onto the mill table to say hello and nearly landed on a rotating tool. I am currently reviewing plans for a new work place to match my new house, specs so far 10m x 7m with 3m high walls and 25 degree pitch roof. Planning on a mezzanine storage area. I have big toys to look after and build as well. Oh and I will be building one of them collets boards like you have there, great idea.
Looks well organised John!!!

Someday i hope mine will be half that well organised!!

I like the amount of shelves for storage.
Everything seems to be in close proximity to the machine it is intended to be used with.

Oh and Turpin looks like an excellent shop buddy! ;D
A little mischievous!!! ;D

Many thanks gents.

Brock & Andrew,

After over 40 years of getting things around me, every spare inch in my 16ft X 9ft shop is precious, so I have taken to laying things out logically, where the tooling needs to be, plus I also use the walls as vertical storage. BTW, I didn't make the 5c collet racks, they are made of metal and easily and cheaply purchased in the UK, just like the R8 holders I use by the mill.

I still have a couple of more higher level shelves to put up and to shorten another so that I can squeeze in my newly purchased drill press. This will allow me to get things down, like tap & die sets, to a lower level, so that I can reach them easier, and stuff that isn't needed very much, up on the higher shelves, out of the way. Behind the wooden door is in fact a 4ft deep area that I have metal prep machines in, grit blast cabinet, power hacksaw, bandsaw, 3 in 1 roll, bend & guillotine machine, etc etc, but since getting rid of a few things, that area will now stay as is.


All the best with your new arrangements.

It looks quite comfortable!

Although you measure your shop in Imperial, I see you work in metric by the wrench hanging over your bench.

Good to see you feeling well enough to be back in the shop again.
Most pleased to hear you're managing to circumvent your limitations. I suspect you've been going stir having been in exile form your beloved shop. Looking forward to seeing your projects being posted again.

Looking good John.

Has Turpin still got those needle sharp teath.

He looks every inch the little charmer he is in that Pic.


I have a few of those wrenches, in both imperial and metric, plus a few special left hand models as well.

I have one, plus a rule close by, hanging in different areas of my shop, so I always have a nut shifter and rough measuring device close to hand, without having to search them out.



I have still been getting into my shop to make things, but very limited to time actually spent making things. Ten minutes working then having to stop for maybe half to one hour to recover. If you look amongst the crap on my new desktop you will see the makings of a model engine in a blue tray. I got a good run at it, then had to stop when personal problems got too much on top. I started to show it here

Plus a couple more different things as well

So I have not really completely stopped, just stalled for a while.


As I said, Turpin pinches anything not bolted down, and as you know, I use those wet and dry sponge blocks, which get dropped around the place. He has been tearing those into little pieces, so I expect they have blunted his teeth a little. But he still 'nips' visitors, just to let them know he is there, and waiting to be picked up and stroked.


I like the way you have reorganized your shop. Your perseverance in the hobby is an inspiration to us all. Thank you for giving us a look and your thoughts.

Wonderful use of space - glad to see you getting back into it and look forward to your posts.

Thanks lads.

I am nowhere near as disabled as a few of the other members on here, just 40+%, but I think my shop is much smaller, so everything has to be tucked away and set into perfect position just for me. In fact, when I have visitors to my shop to get a bit of machining done, it gets cramped very quickly, so I normally just show them where everything is and what to do and let them get on with it, and I take a back seat shouting instructions from further down the aisle.

This is Divided He-ad (Ralph) doing a little bit of toolpost grinding. It shows just how tight things really are in my shop. Click the picture.


Maximum use of minimum space nicely done. I spotted a nice collection of keyless chucks all with what appear to be spanner holes/ tommy bar holes? did you do those? Just the other day I needed to tighten a chuck and it just exceeded the strenght I have to do it. So I used the strap wrench to help, a spanner would be quicker though.

Those keyless chucks actually come like that. If one tightens up, I just use a drill bit shank in the hole to open it up.

I too used to have to resort to using a strap wrench, especially after drilling large holes. I even had one burst apart during use

I tried various ones before settling on these. I can't afford Albrecht, but these definitely come a very good second. Accurate and very well made, with the advantage of being very reasonably priced.


Glad to see that you are keeping your hand in there as best you can under the circumstances. I know what it is like when the mind wants to do something but the body doesn't cooperate. Very nice use of the space that you have available. Good to see that you have some new found company to keep hiding you sanding blocks on you. He sure looks a cutie. All the best John. :bow:

Cheers :)


This post hasn't gone away as you had all hoped, but I have been side tracked a little, so I am starting to catch up with it.

I mentioned on someones post the other day about by asking people for their throwouts, as most of my metal stock and bits and pieces come to me free of charge from those such sources.

I have a few people to blame for this post, mainly, Bluechip (Dave) who was having a sort out from his shop of all sorts of stainless he had gathered over the years and never used, Divided Head (Ralph), who did the same thing but with all sorts of big bearings etc, and a few other people in my close circle of friends. These people bring me bags full of the stuff, in fact about an hour ago, another friend called me to say he had another hundred or so ground 4mm, 5mm & 6mm stainless bars about 6" long or even longer. I don't keep it all to myself, the people that visit get to choose out of it what they want. Even then, I still have more than enough to last me two lifetimes.

So this is how it all starts.

Over the weekend, a local supermarket had a special buy on, Lidl to be exact, a very nice plastic rack, for 20 UK pounds. I have used these before, and found them very sturdy, in this case, it will have to be.

So here is the rack, onto which, my grandson has already started to load things from my outside space. It will eventually be bolted to the wall, in this position, just outside my workshop door, but still under the weather protection of my covered way.


It still hasn't made any dent on any of the other bits 'n bobs. I need to clear a pathway to the cabinet close to the wall, my non ferrous lockup. Just imagine what this space was like before all that stuff was put onto the rack, at least it allows me to get to the first cabinet.


This is how some of it is stored at this time, choking up my shop so that I can't reach my machinery very well.


Eventually I had to move the oils to the top shelf, to give me a little more elbow room.

This is about 1/3rd into that pile in the shop, stainless steel, from 4mm to 25mm diameter on the bottom shelf, and a cut up 5ft length of brass 2" tube, plus all sorts of non ferrous stuff on the upper shelf, which will eventually go into the cabinet I can't get into yet.


I reckon another couple of days sorting will be required before I get my shop something like emptied, so that I can carry on doing the shelf work and machine moving that is required in there.


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