The workshop

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It goes without saying that wo need a dedicated space for turning. I would normally call this space a workshop, but then I have met one turner who manages to turn in tho house and onother who turns in the attic!

Below My neighbour Michael Barnett's workshop with good access for taking in timber and removing shavings.

A shed at the bottom of the garden or part of the garage are more likely venues Few turners have the luxury of a purpose-built workshop but, whatever the size of the work space, careful planning of its layout will make a big difference to the turning experience. The biggest problem for the woodturner is a workshop that looks fine before the turning starts, but becomes a nightmare afterwards when it comes to looking for that tcol buried under a pile of shavings.

Dedicated areas

Grouping pieces of equipment that are used for the same process allows an easy workflow through the work space, effectively dividing up the working area - this can be anything from a line on the floor to a solid wall. I would suggest dedicating areas for turning; special equipment; general woiking; wood storage and spraying.

Below My neighbour Michael Barnett's workshop with good access for taking in timber and removing shavings.

Turning area

This is one area that I would partition physically. The simplest, most effective method is to use cheap and easily movable strips of heavy plastic sheet (similar to industrial drive-through doors). This will help to contain the wood-shavings in a small area around the lathe and protect other equipment from becoming covered in shavings.

Dust extraction should become more efficient because the air flow is directed. The plastic strips let the light through, are no barrier to movement and can be easily moved when not required. You could also make them informative or decorative by printing on them.

In the turning area put the lathe, a grinder, a rack tor the turning tools, a drawered cabinet to store the chucks and other hand tools and possibly a workbench. Ensure you have enough storage so that surfaces can be left clear.

One of the biggest, dirtiest, unhealthiest and probably the most hated jobs for a woodturner is cleaning up wood-shavings and dust. The fewer tools, timber and equipment there are to get covered in dust and shavings, the easier the working and cleaning becomes. A large external door on the turning area makes for easy disposal of the wood-shavings. Perhaps you may want to include the bandsaw in the turning area because, like the lathe, it creates a lot of dust, shavings and off-cuts. But a tew years ago I moved my bandsaw outdoors, to give me more room for a project I was working on, with the intention of moving it back when the project was finished. However, I loved using the bandsaw outside in the fresh air and the dust and off-cuts were much easier to deal with. I also loved the improvement to the workshop environment and consequently, the bandsaw did not go back. Yes. there were days when I couldn't use it because of the weather (even in Scotland) but this was far offset by the advantages, I made up a sack-type cover from a tarpaulin for weather protection and used a circuit breaker on the power supply for electrical safety. My bandsaw has now moved to another building that is only used for rough cutting wood.

Above Double-bag chip extractor and compressor in separate shed.

Special equipment area

It might seem logical to have the dust extractor in the turning section. But they are very noisy, take up valuable space and. if you have the old-fashioned, double-bag style, then they will certainty recirculate the finest dust, which is dangerous. Even an efficient extractor that removes particles down to 5 microns may still recirculate any finer dust.

The best place for the dust extractor is in a small equipment shed or box adjacent to the workshop, with a large suction pipe into the turning area. A remote switch with a pull string above the lathe will make it very convenient to switch it on and off and. being out of the workshop, it will be quieter so there should be no problem having it running most of the time. Fit a suction funnel that is designed to suck a wide area and can be easily moved to where the dust is being generated. Because the air and dust are not recirculated. I think this is a more efficient set-up than having a longer suction pipe.


Above Stoie green wood outside.

Above Ensure there are gaps to permit airflow.

Above Stoie green wood outside.

Above Ensure there are gaps to permit airflow.

Compressed air in the workshop is a great boon for power tools, spraying and cleaning up. especially on all the shelves and awkward corners. Again, a compressor is a noisy piece of equipment so if possible put it in the equipment shed with the dust extractor and run on airline into the workshop. I also store my chainsaws in the special equipment area.

General working area

Any other tools that are not needed in the turning process, along with the machinery workbench and DIY finishes, can go in the general working area. This will be a nice place to work once the turning area is sectioned off.

Storing timber

Whatever condition your timber arrives in. it is unlikely to remain in the same state unless it is stored in a suitable place. Green wood stored in somewhere warm will quickly start to dry and almost certainly crack. Kiln-dried wood stored in a damp, humid area will start to take in moisture and eventually have the same moisture content as air-dried timber; therefore the money spent on drying will have been wasted. Storing green wood and kiln-dried wood together will be good for neither of them.

If the workshop is heated and warm, then there should be no problem storing dry timber and maintaining its moisture content. Store dry wcod in the warmest part of the workshop and. if possible.

provide some warm air circulation. In addition, kiln-dried blanks should be coated with a wax or similar barrier to prevent moisture ingress. But as many workshops are unheated and cold most of the time (well, certainly in Scotland!), then storing small amounts of dry wood in a warm corner of the house could be an ideal solution.

Part-turned items from green wood require a cool, dry location with good air circulation to bring down the moisture content befcxe they are transferred to a dryer area. Store green timber in the round outdoors, protected from the weather, but with gcod air circulation. Lay it on a hard, dry surface.

Left Make sure your wood is stored properly. Right It's a good idea to mark your timber.



My woikshop.


My woikshop.


The workshop is not a safe place to spray. The particles will remain in the atmosphere long after you have taken the protective gear off. II spraying is a regular part of your process, then a spray booth will be essential. For occasional spraying find somewhere other than the workshop area. I live in the countryside and spray just outside the workshop.

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