This is the current shop. This shop is made up of three rooms: the main Cutlery Shop, a separate Grinding Room and a separate Woodshop. When we purchased the land, house and this building (which is a two bay garage with two rooms on each side), I had to start by rebuilding the entire south wall because it was rotten and had a fairly thriving population of termites making their living there. After installing three windows and four doors, building three walls, putting in a 60 amp subpanel and wiring the three rooms with dedicated lighting, multiple 220v and 110v circuits, insulating the ceiling and walls and sheathing the entire thing, it ended up being a fairly nice place to work. I did all the designing, framing, wiring… well, everything, myself (well, I did get some help from my wife) so I am kind of proud of it. The rooms may be small, but they are easy to heat with radiant oil and cadet heaters so they work fine for now, and this shop is much more than I ever had in the past, so I am happy. Almost all of the “furniture” in each room I salvaged from dumpsters, for free. I built all the bench tops and the bench in the Grinding room. Of course the shop will probably never be completely finished; lots of little things that still have to be done, but we should be here for a while, so I should have plenty of time to work on it. I have included a few pictures of what it looked like when I started.
I would like to emphasis that it is possible to have a fairly “nice” shop and good tools on a very tight budget. I doubt I would be considered monetarily wealthy, but, I am patient, a fairly good scavenger and am skilled at fixing, modifying and making the best of what others throw out. As I mentioned elsewhere, almost all of the benches, chairs, desks cabinets, etc came from dumpsters and demolitions, a few from garage sales. I keep my eyes open and am not afraid to ask if someone is throwing something out if I can make a deal on it, and they usually just give it to me so they don’t have to haul it to the dump. I think the real trick is knowing your limitations, both in skill and space, and knowing when to go after things that you know you can use, and passing on those that you aren’t sure about. Scrounging can lead one to begin to take anything home because “it was such a good deal”, “hey, I could save a bundle if I could figure out how to fix that” and “I might be able to find a use for that someday…” That is fine, and I have been guilty of it, too. But just try and not fill your shop to the point you start moving it into the house; that may not work out so well.
I have acquired the tools over many years of patience, flexibility, watching sales, visiting used stores and garage/barn sales and spreading the word. It adds up over time. I feel that because I went about it this way, I have grown to appreciate what I have much more than if I had just bought everything new outright to start with (even if I could have).