A Shop Built around an Island
Space-saving design improves work support, storage, and dust collection
Synopsis: Every woodworker dreams of designing and building the perfect workshop. Retired engineer Alan DeVilbiss put his expertise to work when he came up with the idea for his shop, which is designed around a central island. All of his stationary machines (tablesaw, bandsaw, drill press, router table, planer, and radial-arm saw) are built into the island, where they share infeed and outfeed space and a centralized dust-collection system. Even the jointer is hooked into the system. This configuration lets DeVilbiss work full-length lumber but takes up minimal floor space.
I’m sure every woodworker dreams of designing and building the perfect workshop. I finally got my chance after I retired as a circuit-design engineer for Hewlett-Packard. After two previous shops in two-car garages laid out conventionally with some tools around the walls and others on mobile bases, the engineer in me said there had to be a more efficient way to use space.
My design has a central grouping of stationary machines. By sharing infeed and outfeed space, I achieve maximum capacity for handling large boards in minimum floor space. An added bonus is that this design requires perhaps one-fifth of the dust-collection ductwork of a conventional shop with tools around the walls. This not only saved money but is more efficient.
Cabinets provide storage, infeed/outfeed support
The building is 24 ft. by 40 ft., giving about 875 sq. ft. of floor space, with a 10-ft.-high ceiling. Although about half the area could be used for parking, I park only one vehicle there.
After drawing detailed plans, I marked the outline of the island base on the concrete floor. I anchored 2×4 framing lumber to the floor using a 3⁄8-in. bead of construction adhesive and 21⁄2-in. selftapping concrete screws set into 3⁄16-in. holes hammer-drilled into the concrete. Locating the lowest…