The New Workshop
Nelson Riedel,
Initial 1/14/2003, last updated 09/03/2010

The works "workshop"  is in the basement that is nice and warm in the winter and cool in the summer.    In early 2007 the wife decided that we should think about building our retirement home.   Our previous home was a five level split and we were getting too old for all those steps. 

I dreaded the thought of the building-the-house battles but the thought of a new shop was just too much to pass. 

We purchased the lot in June 2007, purchased a set of plans over the internet and spent the next couple months completely redesigning the plans while keeping the basic footprint.   We ended up with a 1 1/2 story design; everything we need on the first floor, a couple guest bedrooms on the partial second floor and most important, a full basement with on-grade entrance.  

 The  building permit was issued in early November 2007 and the builder broke ground in mid November.  The early winter was really mild so that they got it framed by the end of January.   The plan was to have it ready for occupancy in early July so we put our old house on the market in mid May.   There were a few delays along the line.   The old house sold in August and we had to be out by the end of the month.  It was a scramble but we moved just before Labor Day 2008 into a 99% complete house. 

Early in the shop design process I set down the following general objectives:  

  • The shop is a one person operation so the machinery can be close together.

  • Wood working (sawing) will be done outside of the shop.

  • No painting other than powder coating will be done in the shop.

  • Silver soldering and light welding will be done in the shop.

  • A sit-down work area will be set up by the window.

  • The major fabrication area will have a large workbench accessible on all sides.

  • There will be a large open area for locomotive assembly.

  • There will be ample storage for hardware supplies and material.

  • The noisy air compressor will be located in the garage.   

The machinery I already had and intended to keep was:

  • 12" X 36" Lathe

  • Mill-Drill

  • Floor Drill Press

  • Two Grinders

  • Bead Blast Booth 

  • 4" X 6" Horizontal/Vertical Band Saw

  • Wire Welder

  • Belt/Disk Sander

  • Hydraulic Press

  • Construction Table Saw

  •  Small Miter Saw 

  • Several large tool chests and work benches.

The machinery I hoped to add was:

  •  A Vertical Band Saw

  • A 3-in-1 Sheet Metal Shear, Brake and Roller.

  • A Very Small Bench Drill Press

 The shop was pretty well finished mid 2009 and has been utilized to finish the Heisler.  I cleaned it up the other day  (September, 2010) and took some photos:  

 This shows the back wall of the shop which is under the front of the house.  The door on the right leads to the finished part of the basement.   That shop sink is used to clean material after soldering as well as cleaning hands, etc.     The long narrow area in the center back of the photo is the storage area.  There are 18" wide shelving units on each side.  The water heater and softener are at the back of the storage area.  The 4' wide hood is over a cart used for silver soldering and wire welding.  The stove is for curing powder coating; it hasn't been used in the new shop yet.  That is a small hydraulic press behind the horizontal/vertical band saw.    The belt sender in under the electrical panels.  Part of the back wall is on a 45 degree angle.  That is the blast booth beyond the 45 degree corner and then grinders barely recognizable on the left.    The basement is 9' from the floor to the bottom of the joists.  

The workbench in the center is 3' X 5'.  The legs are plastic --- sold under the name  2X4 Basics Workbench Legs.  I ordered them online from Lowes.  The red plastic containers (from Enco) store short lengths of stock.   That solved the problem of organizing the scraps needed for most the locomotive construction. 

This photo was taken from the storage area looking along the back wall in the opposite direction of the previous photo.   The bench between the grinders and the Mill/Drill is 8' long and has a small bench drill press on the far end.  The shelves above the bench and grinders store small hardware items such as screws,  plumbing fittings, adhesives, etc. 

This photo shows the next 45 degree corner.  That is an outside wall behind the drill press and the wooden locomotive/car storage stand.  That is the Heisler tender on the locomotive storage stand.  The area along the  pathway from the drill press to the welding area behind the photographer is where most the dirt is generated.  This was a consideration in the shop layout ---- keep the dirt as concentrated as possible.  The shop vac is under the bench on the right ----- handy to clean up the mess.     


This photo was taken from the area of the locomotive stand looking back toward the storage area.  That is an auto engine host used to lift the heavier items in the shop.   The protruding legs were shortened to make it easier to move around and the arm is used in one of the shorter positions to ensure stability.    That is the 3-in-1 sheet metal tool next to the hoist.   The gray cart holds stuff used when assembling or maintaining locomotives.  The vertical band saw is behind the cart.  The orange cart is a hydraulic table with rails on top.  This cart is used to move locomotives and cars between the work and storage stands and outside for test firing and loading into the trailer for transport to the track.  


This is the sit-down bench area with a nice view of the lake.  The computer is used for quick references and to consult drawings; the main computer system is in the office in the other end of the basement.   The cabinets hold the light hand tools used for the fine work.  That is the Heisler air compressor on the bench.   This photo was taken from the area of the vertical band saw. 


This photo also taken from the area of the vertical band saw shows the inside wall of the shop with the woodworking tools and the outside door.   The driveway to the back of the house is just beyond the doors.  Small ramps are used to roll the equipment in and out of the shop.   (I had hoped to have the concrete drive at the same level as the door sill but concerns about freezing and thawing as well as snow/ice buildup necessitated a couple inch drop.)  That is a geothermal heat pump unit to the left of the workbench.    This is a cluttered corner also used to store the kayak paddles and life vests.      


This last photo shows the relatively open area used to assemble the locomotives and cars.   That is the Heisler ready for transport to the track.     

NLW Home