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STL 63: The Micro-Sized Workshop

comments (12) July 10th, 2014 in blogs

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Could Japanese woodworking methods offer a bit of inspiration for a woodworker looking to downsize to a pint-sized apartment workshop? - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Could Japanese woodworking methods offer a bit of inspiration for a woodworker looking to downsize to a pint-sized apartment workshop?

Shop Talk Live 63: The Micro-Sized Workshop

This week on Shop Talk Live, a listener's question regarding ideas for downsizing to a pint-sized apartment workshop takes the top spot as we mill over the idea of perhaps dumping large machinery for some Japanese woodworking methods.

Plus, your questions answered and the return of our Tool Bombs segment.



Every two weeks, a team of Fine Woodworking staffers answer questions from readers on Shop Talk Live, Fine Woodworking's biweekly podcast. Send your woodworking questions to for consideration in the regular broadcast!


Also on iTunes Click on the link at left to listen to the podcast, or catch it in iTunes. Remember, our continued existence relies upon listener support. So if you enjoy the show, be sure to leave us a five-star rating and maybe even a nice comment on our iTunes page. And don't forget to send in your woodworking questions to


Links from this Week's Show

Simple Trick for Cleaner Dovetail Joints

Country Pine Hutch Video Workshop Series

How to Mill Lumber with Handplanes



Tom McKenna 

Mike Pekovich
Executive art director

Ed Pirnik
Senior web producer



Listen to Previous Episodes

posted in: blogs, podcast, Andrew Hunter, japanese, small workshop

Comments (12)

markgrogan1 markgrogan1 writes: I’m looking forward to doing a bit more research on how to get more storage into a tiny workroom space! My rental unit is so small as it is, I'd all but given up being able to have a bit of a work area!
Posted: 2:58 am on June 25th

EricColbert EricColbert writes: It's quite hard to imagine how a person is going to be frugal with his workshop when there are just so many things that need to go into storage and it's so difficut to resist buying a new tool or some new machine that's definitely going to be useful for doing something sooner or later right?
Posted: 10:57 pm on October 20th

user-3512369 user-3512369 writes: Tom, if you were to ever become a blues singer, you would undoubtedly be called "Whispering Tom". The downside, is that in order to hear you I have to have whole audio ramped right up to 11.
Posted: 2:09 pm on July 18th

james3one james3one writes: Japanese woodworking can be seen on Youtube. It's amazing what these guys do with a few tools. It will change your woodworking.
Posted: 9:22 am on July 18th

james3one james3one writes: Small shop. My living room is my workshop. Most of my work is for the interior design industry so I need an indoor environment for that. However some of my work does veer off into woodworking. I use a bench top bench on my canvas covered worktables and I have my Portabench in the entry way which is tiled(easy to collect shavings). While I do have my power tools in the garage, most of my work happens in the living room. I have a vacuum right next to me as I work so the cleaning process happens during more than after. That having been said, using some of the Japanese methods could be helpful. The saws produce less waste(dust) and the bench, a slab of wood with strips of wood at one end(planing stops), can be easily adapted to a more Western process.
Posted: 8:49 am on July 18th

markynana markynana writes: Hi Ed. woodrat59 is referring to Tom, I had the same problem. Dunno whether he's a soft talker or was sitting too far away from the mic, but his volume was way lower than you & Mike. I missed a lot of what he said, just couldn't hear it (listening on an iPhone waiting for a bus). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the show and really appreciate what you guys provide. Cheers
Posted: 1:57 am on July 17th

UdyRegan UdyRegan writes: I think that these days it's a good idea to be as conservative as possible with space and storage. Doubling up usage for spaces and making sure that you get the most out of every table top and corner becomes so crucial in our era of shrinking property.

Posted: 10:07 pm on July 16th

DKHedstrom DKHedstrom writes: Ed, Michael, Tom,
In answer to your question about the portrait of my great grandfather attached to my recent email. Yes, it is he in his spinning wheel workshop in Sweden. The best we can date the photo is 1870 or so. My cousin has one of his wheels and others are in a museum in Dalsland Sweden.

I listened with joy (as always) to the podcast while returning from the 100th anniversary of the lumber company his son, my grandfather Andrew, founded in 1914. Andrew immigrated at age 21, became a successful builder and carpenter, then started the mill which is now transitioning to forth generation management.

Many of us in the third generation engage with wood both vocationally and artistically--perhaps it is genetic.
Posted: 9:43 pm on July 15th

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: Hey woodrat: Not sure what you were referring to regarding audio - we didn't have a guest this week:)



And yes, 16x28!!! Pah!
Posted: 8:16 am on July 14th

jweisgram jweisgram writes: I disagree about dust collectors and 4" ports. I don't think the 4" dust collection solutions commonly available are good solutions.

Start with the goal of dust collection. It appears that your panelists find chip collection to be sufficient. My goal is to have healthy to breath shop air, not cancer causing, and that means get as much of the invisibly small dust as possible. Recent Fine Woodworking articles on dust collection say much the same.

I use 6" ducting on my 2hp 2 stage dust collector with a filter instead of a bag. The filter is from Wynn Environmental and efficiently filters down to at least 0.3 micron, *and* I retrofit my power tools to have 6" ports on them. The filter, 6" ducting, and 6" ports make a huge difference in airflow compared to my previous 4" ductwork. My bandsaw currently uses a 4" port connected with 6" hose and the airflow does not compare to the tools with a 6" port (inherent problems with dust collection from a bandsaw compound this, but I can feel a dramatic airflow difference).

My chop saw has a largish box located behind it connected with a 6" port to 6" hose. I also use some 2.5" hose off the back of the chop saw to direct as much dust into the 6" collection hose as possible.
Posted: 5:01 pm on July 12th

woodrat59 woodrat59 writes: I always complain about my 16x28 shop being too small, guess I have to stop complaining and get back to work, but who was your guest on the podcast and why wasn't he allowed a mike, it was impossible to hear what he was saying.
Posted: 7:55 pm on July 11th

David_Heim David_Heim writes: Most shops that I've seen (especially including mine) are small because they're hopelessly cluttered. However, I was privileged to visit James Krenov in his last shop. It was small, spare, functional, and beautiful. The room was at one end of a garage, and could not have been more than 6 ft. by 10 ft. A bench ran the length of one long wall, which had a window centered on it. The only power tools that I saw were a small bandsaw and a tiny benchtop planer. A few shelves above the bench held work in progress. I think there were a few hand tools on the bench, with the rest stored in drawers. At the time, Krenov's eyesight had deteriorated so much that he had stopped making cabinets and only made handplanes. His shop perfectly embodied his work: controlled, functional, yet welcoming and warm. It was one of the most pleasant spaces I've ever been in.
Posted: 8:03 am on July 11th

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