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Does a car fit into a garage workshop

that includes a MiniMax CU410 Elite combination machine

with an 8 1/2 foot sliding table, shaper, 16 inch jointer, 16 inch planer, and mortiser, and other tools

©2006 by Charles A. Plesums, Austin, Texas, USA

The Challenge

This is my shop in normal use... a small project (walnut lingerie chest) can be seen in-process, in various pictures. Plus the tools and machinery. The "studio" (a two car unit is a studio, one car is a shop) is about 19.5 feet wide, 20.5 feet front to back - smaller than many two car garages.

At the front left is my lathe bench (with 2 grinders and machinist vice) and storage underneath. Next to the bench is a small turbine sprayer, and my compressor for the HVLP conversion gun (and other functions). Behind the lathe is garden storage, a cart for the power feeder, mortiser, and shaper hood, and a cart (too large) for priceless scrap wood pieces. Then the large MM24 bandsaw in front of more wood. The MM CU410 Elite is in the middle and "never" moves. A short workbench on wheels is next to the bandsaw, and is low enough that the slider goes over the workbench. The ROS sanders are under the bench, and the Fein vacuum is behind it.

Shop Left 3453
Shop Right 3454

This is the right side of the shop. Working counterclockwise this time, the 5 gallon lacquer cans stored by the door, plus a trash can for off-cuts until they can be sorted, in front of the dust collector. In front of the ladders is the Performax drum sander (over a small Delta belt/disk sander), followed by the Grizzly 14 inch bandsaw. Behind the bandsaw, next to the ladders is the radial arm saw. Then plywood storage, and the drill press in the corner, along with the Leigh dovetail jig. Recycle bins are in front of the drill press (a concession to the garage role). The other side of the house entrance, behind the workpiece, is a set of drawers for hand tools.

The Process

As we start to make room for the car, the outrigger comes off (despite the large size in use, this is actually quite easy to store on end, and comes off and on quickly - probably a minute. It comes off regularly during project assembly to make room in the shop.) The compressor, sander, small bandsaw, and junque are moved between the MM Combo and the lathe and wall.

Shop being cleared 3451

The work pieces are normally on dollies, and are moved wherever they fit...in this case, in front of the "scrap" wood bin. Miscellaneous tools, like the second shop vacuum, are moved as well. The real trick is to remember to turn off the radio - it is real hard to get to after this point. You can also see some of the walnut and other wood stored behind the large bandsaw. The plywood, dust collector, ladders, radial arm saw, and drill press stay in place along the right wall.

The Result

Here is proof that it works... the car (actually either car, but not both) fit into the space that was just cleared.

Car in workshop...er...garage 3450
Left side of garage with car 3447

Yes, the space is tight. The miter fence is left on the slider, and the slider pushed to one end. In the foreground you can see the junk on top of the cabinet for hand tools. And yes, there is room to get out of the car, and notice that the garage door is closed.

This is the other side of the shop. You can see the wood storage, plastic saw horses, grunge plywood used on the sawhorses as work benches, and the radial arm saw just in front of the laders. The flexible dust collector hose is draped wherever it will stay.

Right side of garage with car 3448

Many people worry that the combination machine (or just a sliding table saw) will take too much space. With a large combination machine, many functions share space - for example, the jointer table becomes part of the saw table; the outrigger shares space with the assembly area; the slider travels over workbenches and other tools. (Yes a shop floorplan would be nice, but not today.)

My experience is that my "aircraft carrier size combo machine" takes no more space than I had to have available with my ordinary table saw, jointer, and planer. If I am going to rip an 8 foot board, I need 8 feet before and after the blade, just as before. Only with the slider, the work is on a stable sliding table, and with the table saw, I had to jury rig multiple infeed and outfeed stands. Likewise, the jointer and planer share the same infeed and outfeed areas, while I had to rearrange the machines so that my "cheap" jointer and planer could share the space. My shaper uses the same sliding table as the saw, and also performs router table functions similar to the way my old router table was in the table saw wing.

With the slider, the large portion of the material is on the slider and the outrigger. Yes, that takes a lot of space. But it is early in a project when the "car space" is open - later in a project when I am doing a lot of assembly, the outrigger often comes off to make more room for assembly, but by that time I am done cutting large pieces.

When you are making an 8 foot rip on plywood, the typical requirement is to cut a foot (the depth of a bookcase) off a sheet, meaning you need 12 inches to the right of the blade. The sheet and the slider go over the low workbench on the infeed side. For narrow rips, the outfeed workpiece clears the lathe bench, although occasionally (a couple time per year) I do need to move the lathe (remove the blocks that keep it off the wheels and push). Wider pieces are usually shorter so I normally do the cross-cut first and don't conflict with the lathe.

Cross cuts have 8-10 feet clear left of the blade - the car space, resting on the outrigger. For clearance right of the blade, I sometimes have to remove the rip fence, jointer fence, and in extreme cases jointer guard, and mortiser (which gives me more space right of the blade than in the machine specs).

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©2006 by Charles A. Plesums, Austin, Texas USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.