World of wheels
With limited shop space, placing a new piece of stationary equipment has to be very well thought out, unless you make it mobile.
With unlimited shop space you don’t have to worry so much about machine placement. Essentially, you put it wherever it fits best into your workflow. But when space is tight, the best placement for maximizing the workflow for machine A often gets in the way of the best workflow for machine B. Add machine C and D to the mix and it can become difficult to move, much less get anything done.
I recently added a floor model drill press to my shop, and the first issue was deciding where to put it. With my layout – already maximized for efficiency – there simply was no good spot to park it permanently without compromising something else. The best solution was to put the thing on wheels.
Like many of you, I’ve permanently placed my table saw in the middle of the shop. It (and its matched outfeed/assembly table) forms the centerpiece, and 90 percent of the work I do takes place on or around it. I don’t use my jointer as often, so it’s on a mobile base parked adjacent to my assembly table. Unless I’m cutting extremely large stock on the saw requiring the jointer to be moved out of the cutting path, or jointing long stock requiring me to angle the machine for feed-path clearance, it stays put. I use my planer less frequently, so it rests on a wheeled cabinet parked in a corner nook and gets rolled out when needed. Ditto my combo disc/belt sander.
I’ve decided to do the same thing with that drill press, and stationed it a couple feet from the infeed side of the jointer. For most of the workpieces I joint it’s fine where it is, but if I need to run something longer than, say, 4 feet through the jointer, all I need to do is roll it out of the way for plenty of elbow room.
I’d be curious to hear how you factor mobility into your shop workflow processes. What arrangements work best for you, and what workflow problems have added mobility solved?