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A Tour of Alan Norris' Shop

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I have been visiting the Pond now for a couple of months and thought it time to post some pictures of my shop. The idea of getting back into woodworking started about a couple of years ago (after innumerable The New Yankee Workshop shows). After mulling over just where to get the cash (legally) I decided that the '64 Triumph TR4 which was collecting dust in my basement just had to go. I had completed a ground up restoration on it (from two cars, actually) back in '86. Since then I have won three Best In Class awards at the local British Car Days show but had not put many miles on it. I guess I got more fun out of restoring the car than driving it.

The Shop

As you can imagine the money was causing a nuclear meltdown in my pocket but first thing first. My full basement was already partially framed where the stairs are. I finished the framing and installed pre-finished plywood paneling for an approximately 700 square foot shop. I installed outlets, lights, and a dropped ceiling. I finally cleaned and coated the floor with an industrial floor coating and in February '98 was ready for the first tool.

I had spent a lot of time researching what I would buy. The first item was the Delta Unisaw with 26" Unifence and Excalibur sliding table. I also ordered an 8" jointer from Star tools after reading the American Woodworker's shop test. Close on its heels came miscellaneous hand power tools such as DeWalt biscuit joiner, DeWalt 3½ HP router, Delta mortiser, etc.

At that time I was traveling on business to supervise the installation of machinery in my company’s new facility in Ontario CA. Hmm, Ontario…isn't that near San Clemente and Laguna Beach (home of Olde World and Laguna Tools)? I took off one afternoon and drove down to look at bandsaws (how can you people stand that traffic???!!!). On the way back, I dropped in at Star Tools and looked at their 16" planer. Back home I ordered the Star planer and the Laguna 16 SEC.

The Tools

Here are some shots of the tools.


This is a shot of the tablesaw and storage cabinets in the background.

The wall and base cabinets came off a project I was working on (intercepted on the way to the dump). They are great for storage and saved me a lot of time by not having to build any.

Workbench closeup

My first project was a workbench. This is fashioned after the bench featured in AWW last year. I cut it down to a size that would fit my shop (30" x 60" top) by eliminating the middle bank of drawers. I made the edge glued hard maple top myself (my new 16" planer earned its keep). I am quite pleased with the bench and the six drawers come in really handy especially when they are full as they add weight and stability. The frame and panel construction is from 2x8 pine and the drawer fronts are maple.

Router cabinet

In this picture you can see my next project—a router cabinet. I had purchased the Incra jig and top at the Charlotte show and wanted a cabinet for it. I used the plans from Jointech (sorry Jointech) because I liked the layout better than the one Norm built.

As you can see my collection of clamps does not yet rival Norm's (and probably never will).


The table saw is the heart of my shop. Note the replacement miter gauge from Woodhaven. I just could not get repeatability with the OEM Delta gauge. I have since added a Delta Uniguard—I just never felt safe using the saw without a guard (in spite of Norm).

In the background is the latest addition—a Performax sander bought at the Charlotte show last month. The double doors lead to the garage area of the basement which is where I store my lumber in a free standing rack. Oh, and we keep the cars there too.

Planer and DC

Here is my planer and in the back my Delta dust collector with 5 micron bags and a trash can lid cyclone (works great). The standard bags just pass too much dust. I used 26 ga heating duct from Lowes for all the ducting. It is not as efficient as say spiral wound duct with swept tees but it serves its purpose. The duct on the left is the one that serves the TS on the other side of the shop. It is the longest duct but carries the lightest wood load. I also have a JDS shop air cleaner hung from the ceiling. You probably think that I am anal about dust but I have allergies and anything I can do to keep the dust out of the air benefits my lungs.


Here is the “mistakes and offcuts” table. I don't know how you guys are but I can't bear to throw anything away. The walnut boards are from a slab that a friend sold to me for a very good price. It was a slice of around a third of the trunk and 5' long. I don't know if it has been kiln dried but the moisture content is around 8%. I am waiting for the right project to use it.


Drill press


The Delta sanding center was recently added to the collection, as was the 16½" drill press. I just love my Laguna bandsaw! The Star 8" jointer is just out of the frame to the right. I have all my stationary tools along one wall. This minimizes duct runs and avoids cross shop ducting. The TS was the only exception and I hung the duct from the ceiling tees.

Cherry magazine rack

This is my latest project—a cherry magazine rack and table for our powder room (place to put all those back issues of FWW & AWW). I have finished the case and am working on the door. I am waiting for my latest toy—the Delta shaper jig (you've guessed it—right off TNYW). I will post a picture of the completed project.

I hope you enjoyed my little tour. I think I am finished with my tool buying spree for a while as I can't see what else I would need—except for a lathe. Now let me see. Just where could I put that…


Originally posted 21 April 1999

wb 16 June 2001

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