Tour the $tingy Sailor Workshop

Judging from the email that I get from readers, the number one challenge you have to working on your sailboat is making the time. The number two challenge is the workspace and tools to do some of the projects here.

Trust me, I know what you mean. For many years, I didn’t even have a garage to work in and all the tools I owned could fit in a suitcase.

Before I continue, a bit of legal housekeeping. This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links. Those commissions help to pay the costs associated with running this site so that it stays free for everyone to enjoy. For a complete explanation of why I’m telling you this and how you can support this blog without paying more, please read my full disclosure.

When Mrs. $tingy and I bought our home in the country almost 25 years ago, I really felt like I’d arrived as far as a workshop was concerned. I had a 1300 sq. ft. detached garage, the middle third of which was my workshop. It was set up mostly for woodworking but I did a variety of projects there.

Another third of the garage was two bays to park our cars in. The last third was one extra-large bay where I stored my outdoor power equipment, utility trailer, recreational equipment, and bicycles. I also worked on large projects there like refinishing the keel that you see in Refinish Your Swing Keel for Best Performance, Part 3: Fairing.

The icing on the cake, however, was the 7000 sq. ft. of floor space in the barn where I kept Summer Dance out of the elements. The roof was high enough that I could raise the mast inside to work on the rigging. What more could a guy want?

I’m stingy about most things, not only sailboat improvements, so I didn’t spend a lot of money on expensive power tools and fixtures for my workshop. I bought most of my power tools used and the cabinets came from our kitchen remodel. But I had a well-equipped workshop in which I could build or work on almost anything except heavy metal. Besides sailboat parts, I also enjoy building Shaker and arts & crafts style furniture and gifts for family and friends.

Tool guys like to see each other’s shops to get ideas on how they can improve their own so I made this video tour to show you mine.

Here’s a list of the stationary power tools for reference:

  • Shopsmith Mark V model 510 220V (10″ table saw, 16-1/2″ drill press, 12″ disc sander, horizontal boring machine, 34″ lathe)
  • Shopsmith Mark V model 500 110V (same as above)
  • Shopsmith 11″ bandsaw
  • Shopsmith 18″ jigsaw
  • Shopsmith 4″ joiner
  • Shopsmith 6″ belt sander
  • Porter-Cable built-in router station
  • Delta miter saw station
  • Harbor Freight hollow chisel mortising machine (also works as a lightweight drill press)
  • Craftsman wet/dry vacuum for portable jobs
  • RIDGID wet/dry vacuum (connected to 2-1/2″ dust collection system)

Some serious woodworkers pooh-pooh the Shopsmith because of its small table and setup time. Granted, it’s not the best choice for a professional cabinet shop. But for the hobbyist, a model 510 with table extensions can handle anything that a Delta Unisaw can handle for thousands of dollars less plus its mobile. If you accept the challenge of setting up the Shopsmith in its different configurations as part of the fun and learn to enjoy it, it becomes a non-issue. Even that can be mostly overcome with a second machine or with stationary power units.

If you’re considering installing a dust collection system in your shop, I highly recommend that you look at a system like mine, especially if you already have a shop vacuum. It works very well for the average woodworker and is a compact, low-cost option to big 4″ systems that are overkill, in my opinion.

On top of the stationary power tools are all the usual handheld power tools that are stored in the cabinets:

  • Circular and reciprocating saws
  • Corded and cordless drills
  • Belt, orbital, detail sanders
  • Grinders and buffers

And no shop would be complete without a solid, versatile workbench with all the usual hand tools.

After I made this video, Mrs. $tingy and I downsized and moved to a secondary waterfront property at our favorite lake. Now I only have part of a one car garage for a workshop so I’m having to get very creative to make the most efficient use of the space. It’s still a work in progress so maybe I’ll update this post when I have it dialed in.

I hope this tour gives you some ideas that you can incorporate into your own workspace, even if it’s only a garage.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Charles Christianson says:

    I’m on my second ShopSmith. People who belittle them don’t get why they’re so popular. If it wasn’t for a Shopsmith, I couldn’t have pursued any woodworking while in the Navy. Very little footprint when stowed yet will accomplish anything you want it to. It is very important to pre-plan your work and get that figured out if you want it to be accurate but that’s with most anything else though.

  2. C Gibson says:

    I love ShopSmith! I’ve got two in my shop also, though they’re actually supplemental to my furniture and cabinet work. I keep one setup as a belt and disc sanding station, and the other for band-sawing, jig-sawing and other. My Dad bought the first one in the late ’70s with the idea of setting it up in the engine room of his live-aboard. Though the plan never came to fruition, he used it for years until it ended up in my hands (had to rescue it from the elements when it was stored under a leaky tarp near Lake Wenatchee). I did my first “real” woodworking projects on that machine in a small garage on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. Now it’s a part of my business.

  3. billscnimmer says:

    My great son is sending me his Shopsmith, old but never used, so like new. All my other tool are on casters so I can roll out to work on. Shop is about 18 x 20, feet that is. I do anything that is fun and just bought a 77 Catalina 25 that needs a new swing keel eyebolt. Plan to sail it home down East River NY, rather than trailer thru the city. I have 1 crew, could use more?

    1. Hello, Bill

      Congratulations on your new-to-you C-25! Two crew members should be able to handle it easily, depending on their experience but more members doesn’t hurt and can be more fun.

      Let us know how your eye bolt replacement goes,

      1. billscnimmer says:

        Eyebolt is rusted shut. Trying liquid wrench. May need heat.

  4. billscnimmer says:

    Made special bracket and drill 3/8 hole thru keel. Made tourniquet to push drill thru, tough.

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