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A Tour of Roger Pate's Shop

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I am an RN working in a 40 bed ED (Emergency Department). I was formerly employed at a well known soup manufacturer with more seven day work weeks than I wanted, so I returned to school to get my degree in nursing. An extra benefit from this change is that I work only three days a week (12 hour shifts). Four days off a week leaves more time for honey-dos and of course my retreat—The Jewel.

our house in the old neighborhood

My what? It started this way—some years ago, my wife and I bought a 1927 frame house in the old neighborhood where I grew up.

I was hesitant about the idea until I viewed the property and discovered the dusty structure in the back yard. The old garage was once a seamstress shop for the lady of the house and a sewing machine repair shop for the master. It was perfect with a few modifications, consequently my humble shop is my old garage in back of my home. For me, it's The Jewel

the Jewel

As viewed from the outside—it is 12' x 22' on the inside. There is section to the rear that was the sewing room. I use it for storage after building racks for boxes (too many boxes). I hope one day to clean out some of the storage and make a dedicated finishing room.

storage facilities

Some of the modifications included some cabinets for storage. I am an unabashed packrat and recycler, and I am always looking for alternative uses for anything. For example, the cabinets are made from scraps of OSB, 1x lumber, and ½" x 6 treated lumber.

The treated material came from scraps of a fence put up by my wife's cousin. Each panel of fencing had to be cut off by 24 inches to meet code for the subdivision covenants. I retrieved enough pieces to fill the trunk of my trusty Chevy Cavalier and the complete bed of my full size Chevy P/U truck to the gunwales front to back. I still have scads of those boys left and use them where appropriate as often as I can.

hand tools a

Some of my hand tools below, cabinets above.

hand tools b

More hand tool storage below, cabinets above, but to the right of the above.

parts organizing

Organizing parts is especially important in a small shop.

one wall elevation

View of north & west wall.

table saw

I have always loved doing DIY projects—probably since I got my first hammer at age 5. My first saw was the cutter blade from an aluminum foil box. I cut up my red rocker—Granny was mad. I've moved on from that cutter to a powered saw. Big or small, a table saw is the heart of most shops.


On the work bench above the table saw, the recycle gene rears its head, again. My handiwork—the grinder, It is made mostly of scrap metal purchased from the bone yard at the well known soup manufacturer for less than $25 total.

The axle was turned and threaded (left-hand) by a machinist friend, the motor is from a junked washing machine, the frame and deck are scrap stainless steel and angle iron, the cover for the motor (to mitigate metal and grinder dust) is a plastic windshield washer fluid bottle. The only new parts are the pillow block bearings and wheel.

essential floor/bench tools

Table saw (just the corner), sander, drill press. The DP and sander are mounted on stand, once again made from scrap.


The band saw is mounted on old Craftsman table saw stand a neighbor was throwing out. To gain the needed appropriate work height the saw is mounted on a milk crate.

miter saw

My chop saw and stand. Storage under bench behind miter saw includes metal bin draws that where there when I moved in. I made several wooden drawers for the remainder of the drawer slots that had no metal drawers.

router table

Ryobi router table.

cordless tools

Some of my 18V cordless collection.

musical charger

What? Your battery charger doesn't play tunes? And of course there's a recycle project—a paper towel holder, made from–you guessed it–scraps. A cut off discarded broom handle, 1x lumber, and an old hack saw blade—even the paper towels were discarded partial rolls of paper towels. And, it fits standard size of new paper towels, too.

tool box

Tool box for mechanic type work.


My air compressor is pictured here. Air lines are sweated ½" copper pipe with several air chuck locations around shop. An old garden house rack at the end of the work bench holds one 50 ft section of air line, while I have two 10 ft coiled hoses for close work.

Many years ago, I had the privilege of using a friend's hardware store basement as my work shop when I lived in an apartment complex. This was rent free and utilities were included—the only caveat was that I had to clean up my shop each time after using the area. I owe a lot to this old friend for his guidance, wisdom, and friendship.

sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Marker board statement: “If you move it, put it back” This is my number two rule, as Norm Abram says, “safety is rule number one.” The reply from the gremlins (paraphrased), “we would not move any of your tools.”

There are also signs for various other shop rules: “No Fork Lifts Allowed,” “Use Safety Glasses/Hearing Protection,” and one sign at top of door “Caution, This Machine May Start At Any Time.” This one applies to me, I guess.

Thanks for viewing my little slice of wood working heaven. I must say that it is not always this clean. I try to keep it neat and clean up after each work session but do not always adhere to this rule. I try, however. “Hey, Mr. Bill, I know you are looking down from above. Thanks for everything.”

Cheers, Roger Pate

Posted 27 March 2008

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