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Howjoe

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Hello all,

Just found this site the other day and am well pleased that this forum is here - I've already read a lot of the posts, for advice and tips. Crackin'!

I'm new to woodworking. For a couple of years, I thought about retraining to gain some qualifications and then attempt to find work in wood trades. Last year I took a part time City & Guilds wood trades course (just completed the exam & awaiting results) and am now registering for NVQ 1 this Sept.

Fate has stepped in and I was recently told that I'll be redundant in July, so I have to take the plunge now and see if I can make a living from carpentry! Vastly different to what I have been doing for the last 12 years.

I need some advice and pointers from all you pro's! I'm in quite a fortunate position as I'm going to be spending about £6-7k from my redundancy payment to set up a workshop in my rather small garden.....(with a full blessing from the wife! :D ) to help practice what I'm being taught at college.

1, Will a 12' x 8' (shed) workshop give me enough space to tinker about in - no really big projects, but I don't want to find that I'm banging my elbows and not have enough room for equipment. I've looked at Passmores and Tudors - I'm swaying towards Tudor's for the quality aspect.

2, I want to spend the money wisley on a good set of tools and machines. I've looked around the net for suppliers. What do you think I shoud buy to get a good all round set of equipment to start me off? Hand tools, power tools & free standing machines.

3, For sound proofing and insulating the workshop, what's best? Polystyrene sheets?

4, Not confident enough yet to build my own bench - any ideas for a good shop bought one? vices?

Sorry to bombard you with questions on my first post - but I'll value whatever advice you can give.

Thanks v much

H (Howard)
 

MikeW

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Howjoe":1w5o7h0m said:
Hello all,
Hi Howard, welcome to the forum from someone across the pond. It is the best forum I've found, being fairly new to the whole woodworking forum thing. Best bunch of people on the net here. Civil, but at the same time willing to express differeing views without all the cr*p one can see on other forums.
Howjoe":1w5o7h0m said:
...Fate has stepped in and I was recently told that I'll be redundant in July, so I have to take the plunge now and see if I can make a living from carpentry! Vastly different to what I have been doing for the last 12 years.
Sorry to hear that. Change can be both good and frightening at the same time, especially from our SOs.
Howjoe":1w5o7h0m said:
I need some advice and pointers from all you pro's!
Howard, I'm not going to address some of the below. As for tools and such, there's enough a difference over here both in what is available and the cost that I'm afraid it could be misleading or wrong advice. But ehre goes...
Howjoe":1w5o7h0m said:
1, Will a 12' x 8' (shed) workshop give me enough space to tinker about in - no really big projects...
I presently make my living out of a 12' x 12' "garage" in our old Vic. Not ideal, but it is doable. One key is the last part of the quote above, no really big projects.

You will find that while you can occassionally do larger projects, the size of the available space and the tools you have and your experience will dictate somewhat your projects.

I have swore off big case work because of my space limitations. But, I have two large pieces I am finishing up right now. Not having room in the shop for even assymbly, they have taken over the dining room of the house. God bless my wife!

Howjoe":1w5o7h0m said:
4, Not confident enough yet to build my own bench - any ideas for a good shop bought one? vices?
There's nothing mystical to building a functional bench. I have been in shops as small as mine that the owner attached one long edge of a solid core door bought as a reject from a building supply store (I think he even trimmed a little from each end). On this he attached a layer of 1/4" tempered hardboard and built some legs out of a couple 4" x 4" on the outside corners. Quite inexpensive and very sturdy. And more importantly, quite functional.

Howjoe":1w5o7h0m said:
Sorry to bombard you with questions on my first post - but I'll value whatever advice you can give. H (Howard)
That's what everyone is here for--to share and learn.

I wish you and your family my best in this transitional time.
 

MikeW

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Hi again, Howard. I just thought of this thread down a little from your post. You can go to it by clicking Here.

It's entitled Novice essential tools. You may find some good advice there...
 

Gill

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Hi Howard

Welcome to the forum :) .

Have you seen how my workshop from Tudors has turned out? It's a good building and I'd certainly put my trade their way again, but at 18' x 8' I'm struggling for space. If you've got the opportunity to go larger, I'd suggest you do so.

Redundancy can be a worrying time, but you're right to use it as an opportunity to try new and exciting projects. How you set up your workshop will depend to a large degree on the nature of what you're going to produce. What are you going to make and how are you going to sell it? Are you certain that you've got a market?

Gill
 

Mcluma

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Howard
Welcome to this forum, and hope you will find all the answers to your questions, and I know soon enough you will be sharing your new gained knowledge with others here

But on the issue of the workshop

Why not build your own, its is not at all that difficult, and more important if you build yourself, you can increase the height considerable, and can even go lower if needed.

A lot of people here have build their own workshop (like me) and can help you with some sound advise

McLuma
 

Howjoe

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Thanks everyone for the friendly welcome! Much appreciated.

The redundancy wasn't a surprise but it's still scary - especially as I'm looking to move into a very different working trade. What I am finding, is that all the job vacancies I've seen for joinery firms or site working are seeking experience, which I obviously don't have yet apart from my college training. I've been doing 'jobs' for friends and family - hanging doors, boxing in pipework, skirting, building units etc, but nothing that counts as 'qualified experience'. I'll keep searching though.

Hi Mcluma, - I did consider building my own workshop, but we may be moving in a year or two, so I've decided to make do with an 'off the shelf' workshop for the time being. But with a bigger garden I'll definitley have grand designs on building something bespoke!

Hello Gill, It was on your thread that I got the pointer towards Tudors. I've emailed them for a quote. I saw some of the photos you took before buying and they do look really sturdy. I won't actually be using the workshop to produce items to sell (well, not yet :wink: ). It's just so that I can experiment and practise my homework from college. I'm going to mark out the dimensions in the garden to see if I've got the space for a bigger workshop. It really is a small garden though :(

Hi Mike, thanks for the advice and encouragement - Just read the link - good tips. I'll see about making my own bench.....no workshop yet, perhaps my wife will let me take over a room in the house temporarily :lol: !

Thanks again

H
 

Alf

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Welcome to the forum, Howard. Scary but exciting times, eh? 8-[ Carpentry isn't really my forte, so I'll leave you to other, less misleading, folks. :D

Cheers, Alf
 

Woodythepecker

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Howard, welcome to the forum.

I must say that whether you are going to do it for a living or diy, i would go for the biggest workshop you can afford or have room for. 12x8 is not very big especially once you start putting machines in it.
If for one reason or another you cannot go bigger then i suggest that you put what ever machines you get on wheels so that you can wheel them in and out.

Good luck.

Woody
 

Howjoe

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Thanks Alf! Not sure if I'll make it in the carpentry world myself, yet...but I'm going to give it a go while I've got this opportunity.

I was born in Cornwall. Nice part of the world....must get back there at some point!
 

Howjoe

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Hi woody,

Thanks for the welcome. I'm beginning to see a theme here about size! Just been pacing out the dimensions and I reckon I could stretch it to 14' x 8'. My problem is that I've been working in a huge workshop at college and I've got to try and replicate the equipment they have there on a smaller scale and create a workable area at home....whilst still retaining something that looks like a garden :?
 

Howjoe

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Newbie_Neil":27ima17e said:
Hi Howard

Glad to have you onboard and sorry about the redundancy.

You might also like some advice from an all-pro board, which you can find here: -

www.askthetrades.co.uk

This is their guide to starting out as self-employed: -

http://www.askthetrades.co.uk/cgi-bin/y ... 1109514878

Cheers
Neil
Nice one, Neil. Thanks v much.

I think I'm also going to have to consider a wireless connection for the workshop for my laptop. This is a really useful pro-active forum!
 

Shady

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Hi mate - welcome aboard. I'd second the point about making a functional but simple bench. Mine uses a fireproof door blank from Jewsons as the main part of the top - it's a solid lump of blockboard, that allowed me to make a very massive stable structure very quickly. Not pretty, but fully functional.

Alternatively, this link'll dispel your bench fears:

http://www.terraclavis.com/bws/beginners.htm
The bench has been built by the guy's 12 year old son with only hand tools... He'sactually made a couple in one day craft fairs and stuff like that, so it ain't beyond your capabilities, and it's a great learning experience...

(the rest of his site is also a good reference on his 'journey' through bench building, reflecting 'what he'd do differently now' type lessons...)
 

Howjoe

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Hi Shady.

Good reference site.

I like the idea of the door blank.....think I'll give it a go. My first 'project'!

Cheers

H
 

RogerS

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Hi and welcome

If you're thinking of putting your laptop in the workshop then think long and very,very hard about all the dust that you're going to generate...thinking not only keyboard but fan sucking in all that nice MDF stuff.

Also, watch out re possible planning problems especially if you're going to do it as a living. There is another thread on this subject but damned if I can find it again. Keep a low profile and keep fingers crossed re your neighbours. Depending on your relationship with them, it might be worth mentioning what you're planning to do and try and get them onside.

Been made redundant twice now and it's always turned out well. Good luck and hard work - I'm sure it will work out well for you too.

Roger
 

Shady

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H: I'll send you some piccies if you like: it was about 1.5" thick as bought: I ripped it in half slightly off centre, and then glued and lag bolted the 2 pieces together, so that i had a 3" thick gigantic laminated slab about 6'5" long and around 2' wide (you don't need any wider for the 'front' bit of your bench). I then banged some melamine 'under' the offset edge to give a tool tray, and wrapped some edging round the whole thing. It's not elegant, but 15 stone of woodworking monster can tango on top of it without it moving... (now there's an image for you... :lol: )
 

Howjoe

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Shady":174xq6kh said:
H: I'll send you some piccies if you like: it was about 1.5" thick as bought: I ripped it in half slightly off centre, and then glued and lag bolted the 2 pieces together, so that i had a 3" thick gigantic laminated slab about 6'5" long and around 2' wide (you don't need any wider for the 'front' bit of your bench). I then banged some melamine 'under' the offset edge to give a tool tray, and wrapped some edging round the whole thing. It's not elegant, but 15 stone of woodworking monster can tango on top of it without it moving... (now there's an image for you... :lol: )
Brilliant,... yes please to the piccies.

Cheers
 

Howjoe

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Hi Roger,

On second thoughts, if had a laptop out there, I'd never get anything done.

I will check with the local council re any restrictions.

The neighbours are very friendly - and I'm very consious re noise levels. I wouldn't be actually 'working' in there....just my own stuff and perhaps finishing / pre forming pieces for clients. All my neighbours are out during the day, so I'll be pretty much on my tod.

Cheers
 

Shady

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OK H - here's an example of a quick, dirty but fully functional bench. Excuse the state of it, but the mirror dinghy is getting a makeover before the summer hols (and we thought woodworking was expensive - sheesh!!)

Here's the 'overview' picture:



Key points to note: the legs are a really crude frame of pine - big thick 4 by 4 posts: however, because a bench takes a battering when you're playing with hand tools, I actually spent some time on the mortises/tenons that lock them all together, and used monster lag bolts and coach screws as well, to draw the whole thing tight. For exactly the same reason, you can see that I put a sort of framed divider inside, which I then use to store assorted power tools - it all adds mass and prevents wobble/shake. The only bits that are critical for your base are (a) making it as strong as possible, and (b), acheiving an adjustably flat surface for the top to go on. How'd I do that? I put 2 big lumps of pine on top of the legs, running front to back at each end, in cut outs, so that they are proud of (ie higher than) the legs. These can be shimmed with off cuts/ planed, to achieve a flat base for the top.

As to the top, here's an end view that shows the basic layout, with an end cap removed:




You can see the 'massiveness' that doubling a fire door gives: the melamine bit in the middle gives a nice clean tool tray (braced underneath to make it stiff), and the hole over the rubbish bin has been a Godsend.

This is not a 'pretty' bench that a professional would show off to customers. However, it is very functional, I don't worry about using it (as you can see :roll: ), and it'll double up as a nuclear bomb shelter should the day ever come. Hand tool spotters will have noticed an incorporated bench slave that slides on a tounged board at the front. There are a number of round holes drilled in the top for round dogs, and I have my patented alternative to Rob Lee's 'too expensive for me' twin screw tail vice on the right hand end:




It's the guts of a five pound 'workmate clone' from screwfix, mounted to the bench to give me a useable equivalent... At the other end, there's a second hand record quick release vice.

Why am I showing you this? Because it is a 'real' alternative to all the scarily immaculate examples out there. There is a lot of truth in the view that you need to build a bench before you know what you want in one, and how to do it well.

Therefore, my advice, FWIW, is: a) don't hang about agonising over all the possible details - just pick a basic design and go for it, and b) Don't worry about making it beautiful this time around - it's a means to an end at this stage, which is providing a firm and solid work holding surface for you to operate on... (Oh, and c), ignore all the 'beech'/'oak'/'other exotica' I can't find and won't be able to work easily with my tools discussions - a solid core door and pine legs has lasted me 4 years of serious hammering and planing.) HTH...
 

Howjoe

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Thanks v much Shady.

I've decided that I will just build my own....it'll give me something to start off with!

Cheers

H
 
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