Shop Tour: John Meir’s Hybrid Workshop

The goal of this shop tour series is to get a better look at how other people setup and use their shop space as well as to promote other creators. If you like what you see be sure to leave them a comment here and subscribe to any or all of their content links to see more. If you would like to be featured in this series along with your shop send an email with the subject FEATURE MY SHOP to jay@jayscustomcreations.com. Enjoy!


Hi, my name is John Meir, I am 46 years old and live in White Lake MI, which is a suburb of Detroit MI. I am a hobby woodworker (weekend warrior) going on 5 years now and realized early on that I truly enjoy the process of creating quality woodworking projects over a quantity of woodworking projects. This pushed me into more hand tool work vs. machine tool work. I do use and fully employ machines but usually only to take rough stock and mill to dimensions in preparation for joinery. I love the whole aspect of using squares, marking knives and gauges, hand planes, dovetail saws, chisels, and any other hand tool in my arsenal to smooth and join my projects. I currently do not commission any work (but have a lot of friends and family asking) as this tends to lead to burnout and that is the last thing I want. Like most woodworkers in my position I give a lot of my projects away as gifts and truly enjoy knowing that these are lifelong items and have heart and soul in them. I do not have any online content and have thought about a YouTube channel but the work needed to produce quality content would pull me away from the limited time I have on my projects.

My 2-car garage shop consists of workspace I share with my wife and step son. This has limited my woodworking area to a wall and a half and 3/4 of floor space.

I just recently upgraded from a shop-vac to a dual stage cyclone/grizzly wall hanging dust collector. This consists of an Oneida Super Dust Deputy 4″ Deluxe Cyclone Separator Kit, a Grizzly G0785 Wall-Mount Dust Collector with Canister Filter and a Rockler “Dust Right” expandable 4″ Hose and quick disconnects. This seemed to be the most cost-effective way to get two stage dust collection with a 1-micron filter in a very compact area. The expandable hose and quick disconnects work perfect for me as I use machines one at a time and only during the first half of my overall project build process. Once I switch to hand tool work it just sits here.

I have also just recently switch from horizontal wood storage to vertical wood storage. It is still a work in progress but wow, what a game changer. If you have not done this, I would tell you that it is totally worth the effort to make the wall space to include this. It allows you to see all the stock you have and is a lot easier to grab the pieces you need. I have it separated by size and somewhat species and seeing as the hardwood lumber yard (Armstrong’s Millworks) is only a 10-min. drive from my house I only store cutoffs and some extra stock I get from my projects.

I bought this 6-inch Rigid Jointer off Craigslist for $150.00. This is one of my best buys to date. The previous owner listed it with a table saw he was selling and he did not want to separate it. About a week later he did separate it from the saw and I went and picked it up. I did not haggle on the price as I knew that $150.00 was more than fair. I put a new set of blades on it and it has worked perfectly.

The Power Tool Wall is where my horizontal storage used to reside. I also used to have shelving that wrapped around the garage and you can see the previous owner drywalled around the shelving. With wall space at a premium I removed the shelving and put up a french cleat system. This is where all my scrap plywood comes into its own by making brackets to hold my tools. I just reorganized this entire corner of the shop and these plywood brackets (and the french cleats) are all prototypes at this point. Once I get the organization I like I will began swapping these out with hardwood, spending more time to improve the longevity and appearance of brackets and french cleat system. I have a jigsaw and circular saw I will make brackets for but just have not had the time to get them prototyped out yet.

I agree with Jay and most woodworkers out there that stacking clamps out from the wall vs. side by side saves space and makes storage easier. Not much more to say about clamps except that I really like the light aluminum Harbor Freight clamps over the heavy and ridiculously priced parallel clamps. I pack them with hardwood and use 1/4-inch ply for pads. They are so much easier to handle and if your joinery is accurate you truly don’t need much pressure during glue ups.

This is my second favorite area of the shop next to my workbench. If you decide to get into hand tool woodworking I must warn you that you will get bitten by the hand plane bug. You still can find them cheap at flea markets and garage sales, clean them up, flatten the soles, sharpen the irons and you are off to making shavings. Before you know it, you have a huge collection taking up way too much space and only using a hand full of the planes you have. This is where I found myself about 4 months ago. I decided to downsize and sell all my Stanleys on eBay and upgrade to Lie-Nielsens. I believe in supporting high quality U.S. made tools and Lie-Nielson is at the top of a very short list. I am still in the process as you can see I still have a Stanley No.7, No.5 1/2, and a No. 5. These will be swapped out with Lie-Nielsens as soon as financially feasible. To the left of my hand plane till is my measuring and marking till. Here is where some my marking and measuring tools live. I have mostly Starrett squares and a couple of Bridge City Toolworks tools. My remaining marking tools reside in a drawer in my workbench. Seeing as I am still in the prototype phase of my tool wall I have not made tills for all my hand tools yet. To the right of my plane till is my handsaw till. My cabinet saws are all Disstons varying from the late 1800’s up to pre WW II. I find these saws to be the most appealing and are easy to sharpen. My backsaws are a mix between Disston, Veritas, and Lie-Nielsen. I did find an old Disston miter saw on the cheap, cut it down to about 18 inches and made a half-back saw out of it. Sharpened it and it works surprisingly well. I do plan on replacing these saws out with Lie-Nielsens but I am realizing with the cost of them that this will take some time. I wonder if asking the wife for an early Christmas present is out of the question…

This is another great Craigslist find. The guy bought a storage unit with this in it and I got the planer and stand for $250.00. Well worth the money but a bit on the noisy side. My long-term plan is to get a 12-inch Jointer/Planer combo and sell my Rigid Jointer and DeWalt Planer. If only money was not object LOL.

Ok, I truly am spoiled. My wife bought me this Powermatic for Christmas. Yes, she fell into a small windfall (a Bitcoin thing) and splurged on this thing for me. I must say it is a great saw. She asked me what I wanted and I kept tossing around all these different saws… Sawstop, Powermatic, Jet, Grizzly, all of them. I did try to get my head in the right perspective and tell myself that I am a hobby woodworker and don’t need a monster table saw. I did want a cabinet saw though and ended up deciding on the PM1000. It’s about the smallest cabinet saw you can get with a decent trunnion system on it. I do have a cast iron router station on the side of the saw but I don’t use it much. Hand tools take the place of 98-99% of any router work you would think of.

This is my second workbench to date. My first was made from Douglass Fur I bought from Home Depot. It was a Paul Sellers design and served me well. What it was lacking was storage space and with the side curtains I saw a lot of wasted space. It now serves a dual purpose up north on my property as a washing station next to my hand well and a workbench. This workbench was one I designed with the thought of maximizing space in the footprint it takes up. It is basically a Sjobergs with a mix of Shaker Style cabinetry and Roubo Split Top. The split top is bolted down and my thought was, if I ever need to move this out of my garage I can break it down to a manageable weight and size.

My workbench serves 3 primary purposes: an out feed table, a hand tool workbench, and an assembly table. The split top is made from Ambrosia Soft Maple. My buddy’s mom had a maple cut down and they left the trunk. I went over there with my Alaskan Saw Mill and milled it into 3-inch thick slabs. They sat in my back yard drying for about a year and a half when I brought some of it in the garage to finish drying and acclimate to the shop conditions. I still have more in the back yard waiting for the right project as this is only about 35% of what I have. The base is made from red oak I picked up from the local hardwood dealer. The drawers are oak fronts hand cut half blind dovetails with poplar sides and 1/4-inch plywood bottoms. The top is finished with Dutch Oil and the base with amber shellac All my finishes, hardware, screws, nails, glues, dies, sandpaper, chisels, files, rasps, and remaining hand tools live in this workbench. My sharpening gear sits on the shelf, is within hands reach and is a must with hand tool work to constantly sharpen up. I am left handed and only have one vise on this bench, a simple 9-inch Rockler quick release vise. It serves all my purposes and works great. I have two hold fasts that I used on my previous bench but have not needed them to date. Therefore I have no dog holes in this bench. I use the “clamp in the vise” technique for flattening and smoothing boards and it works great. At times I have clamped my work down on the bench to work but find the vise covers most if not all my hand tool work.

In conclusion I would like to thank Jay for opening up his webpage for all of us to post our work shops. To see all the different configurations and storage solutions always inspires me to rethink my process and layout. Thanks for viewing my work shop and have a great day!


John also included some pictures of completed projects. Very nice work! I really wanted to highlight not only John’s shop space but also some of his projects because a lot of people (including me at times) get caught up in the “I need this tool and that shop space” to get the job done. John is producing great projects without going crazy with the tool and shop side of woodworking. Great work, John!


LIKE WHAT YOU'VE JUST READ?


Join thousands of other people and sign up for my email newsletter to get notified of new content and updates.


I won't share your information or send you spam. You may unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Hey, you're already subscribed to my email newsletter. I thought you looked familiar ;)

28 COMMENTS

  1. Nice! I really like his bench. I have about the same amount of shop space, so it’s nice to see these storage solutions.

  2. Really appreciate this series from Jay (like all of Jay’s stuff). I really appreciate seeing how those of us who love woodworking, and have to do it with budgetary constraints, find ways to get things done. Beautiful work from John. You hand tools guys amaze me.

  3. John, The hand plane storage shelves on the bench are an awesome touch, not sure if they are just decorative at this point with your plane till but dang it looks good. Great use of space especially the vertical lumber storage, while producing awesome projects.

    • My original plan was to have my most used planes here and the rest of my planes in the drawers but I had way too many planes and then I reorganized my shop and workflow so just decorative at this point. Thanks for the positive comments.

  4. Really nice neat shop layout John, some great looking projects, keep to your guns about charging for jobs, working for a living takes up an awful lot of time and distracts from testing and experimenting and learning.
    keep up the nice work and post more often with Jay, he too is awesome.

    • I believe most people don’t realize how much quality rough lumber costs on top of the labor for hand tool work. When you tell them thousands of dollars for a piece of hand-made furniture they tend to look at you like you are on drugs. LOL… So, I have just gone the route of not commissioning any pieces. Thanks for the positive comments!

  5. When I saw your projects I now think you are ready to start on u-tube. You will have a tremendous following. Go woodworking. Joe.

    • Thanks Joe, maybe when I retire and have time to dedicate to it. To do it right, in my opinion, would be a full time job and right now I already have one of those…

  6. Very nice. Thanks for sharing your work and your thoughts about equipping the shop.
    Also, the trestle table is a beauty.

    • Thanks Tom, the trestle table was a very fun project and sits in our dining room. It was the project that really forced me to properly chisel mortises and hand cut tenons. I cannot take credit for the design though…

  7. Super nice setup. How do you find having your primary bench doing triple-duty as an outfeed table? I love the idea, but I’m thinking that clearing off my bench for most of my table saw cuts would get pretty. But the upside is I’d be forced to keep things neater!

      • Hey Charlie, I would say if I had more space I would prefer a seperate outfeed table, however, it does force you to keep your bench top cleaned up. That was one of the reasons why I got away from my first bench with the tool well. That caused problems when using the bench as an outfeed or assembly table with having to move my tools out of the well.

  8. Awesome shop you have constructed sir! How does the doug fir work bench top hold up? I am retired and on a fixed income and like to try to do a work bench out of doug fir.
    Ron

    • Ron, the Douglas Fir workbench held up perfectly. It was very strong, took all the abuse I could throw at it, and with it being softer than most of my projects it was more forgiving on my material. If you are on a limited budget, then go for it! You won’t be disappointed.

  9. I really enjoyed touring your shop John. Your tour was as well done as your shop. I learned a great deal of new ideas. Thanks also to Jay for posting these shop tours on his site. Thats classy. Well done on your projects as well. Thank you for sharing! Dave Henderson

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.