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66 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm posting to share the journey I'm on, and maybe give someone some ideas and possibly to get ideas from others. This thread is about setting up the workshop to make it the productive space I need it to be.

This shop build and the purpose of the new router is my product design project. To give a brief history of my project, 4 years ago I started a new job and after taking that job I quickly started to experience knee pain. I managed it by searching for a knee pad that gave the right kind of knee protection, but after 1.5 years, the only knee pad I could find that worked for me was fairly expensive ($60/ pair) and lasted me 3-4 months. So I decided I would make my own knee pads. How hard could it be, right? That was nearly 2 years ago.

This first photo is from last fall when I was installing the electric furnace. This is pretty much how the shop/ garage was set up when I was building the first prototypes. It worked really well in the beginning, and I'm glad I had this kind of space to work in. But as the project started to grow, and as I realized what I needed to do to take it to the next level, I realized I needed to make some significant changes.
Building Shelf Interior design Shelving Floor

My garage is ~575 sqr feet (53 m^2) total, which includes the space my car takes up. The photo above should give you an idea about the "original" setup. I had benches running the full length on both side walls, and the benches were always completely covered. It wasn't a great use of space. Back then I had no idea I would buy a CNC router, but I knew I needed to find a way to manage my space better.

This next photo is from a 3 months ago. Now all the built in benches are gone, there is a new shelf unit on the right side, and I built a new free standing bench out of metal. Again, I was still expecting to hire out the CNC work, so making space for a router wasn't part of my plan.

The wood table on wheels in the middle is my new cutting table, an the space underneath is storage of fiberglass cloth, vacuum bagging materials, etc. These typically come in 60" rolls, so storage can be a pain without the proper solution. And the big blue cabinet in the corner is specially designed to hold plastic bins--the bins attach to the back wall and to the doors. It was a craigslist find, and it is pretty dense storage, keeping all my small parts like bolts and screws easily accessible. It wasn't cheap, but I don't expect I will ever sell it.


I'm proud of the new work bench. I like the fact that these plastic drawers hold everything that was previously hung on the wall, which freed up valuable wall space. (Later I added leveler feet and painted it.)


Then I got a deal on these industrial ovens, also on Craigslist. New price would be $2000 each, but I paid $350 each. When I picked them up the guy said his company had like 20 of them that they just threw away. So apparently I paid too much? But really it was amazing luck, because these ovens are perfect for what I need. I will use them for curing epoxy and urethane rubber.

Getting the ovens onto the stand was an adventure. The platform in front of the one oven and the chain hoist should give you a hint. In a previous photo you can see part of a red chop saw on a table--that chop saw (with a couple other saws) lives on a table that rolls underneath these ovens. (I still didn't know I was buying a CNC router when I built this, but it turned out to be a critical space saving measure.)


Alright, to the present day. This next photo is this last weekend with my newly completed stand for my new router. Router has a 30"x40" bed, so the rack under the table is 30.75" high to accomodate material for the router. I used MDF and sealed it with epoxy. I would have used ACX playwood, but was nearly double the usual price, at $100/ sheet!


And this is what I did yesterday. My new router. It is a ShopSabre 23. It is a hefty Boi. The shipping weight says 800#, and I think that's about right. Oh yeah, you can see the filter for my new dust collector in the background. I installed that last week. And as I type this, ductwork is scheduled to arrive tomorrow!


And it wouldn't be complete without showing the dust collector. It's an Oneida 5hp High Vacuum cyclone. To make it fit I had to raise the roof, well, the rafters atleast. So far everything has been a tight fit, but so far things are working out, if only just.


That's about all I got for the moment. I'm typing this on my laptop in the the dark, because the electrician showed up a week early to install the new electrical service. My old electrical service was a 120A fused panel from the 60's. That isn't enough for what I have in mind. But when he leaves, I'll have a brand new 200A service--that's a full 200A available to my garage. (The house will be on a 100A breaker.) Oh yeah, and he's wiring in the dust collector and the router's VFD, so maybe I can fire up the router here in a few minutes!

The long wait was a little depressing, but now everything is happening at the same time. Literally. It's kind of amazing, really. My last day at my old job last Friday (I gave them 2 weeks notice), and by coincidence I was notified on Friday that my router was ready to pick up. So I picked up the router Monday. Today (Tuesday) the electrician called at 6am to say he is coming out today, a week early. Tomorrow the ductwork arrives. This leave me with 1.5 weeks of free time to run duct work and get everything sorted out before I have to go back to work. I couldn't have made things to work out better if I tried!

I'll update as I go. Maybe I'll get the first chips on video?

· Registered
66 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Update: Everything is up and running! I even had time to make a few cuts to get oriented with how the machine and software work. I wouldn't call it "done", but all the parts of the system are together and working.



Dust collector: I am really pleased with the dust collector. So far I faced off a spoil board (MDF) a couple times, and I cut out a small test part out of particlle board. I'm a little surprised how much dust was in the barrel, and how little dust there was in the filter. It is working as advertised.

I was concerned about the noise. Using an app on my phone, the noise level standing near the dust collector itself is ~72db. Inside the shop it is ~80db right now. Most of the noise in the shop is coming from the filter, so I ordered Oneida's "sound filter" that goes on top of the filter. It is supposed to reduce the sound level by 6-7 db, so in the end the sound level in the shop should be in the mid to low 70s. (I didn't order it originally, because I wasn't sure if it would still be effective when the filter is at the end of a ~45' run of duct. Turns out a lot of sound is still coming from the filter, so I think the silencer will make a difference.)

I got their "stop start station" hard wired on/ off switch. It is installed right under the VFD. I'm sure I paid too much for what it is, but I am happy to have the dust collector on a mechanical switch near the router. (It isn't working yet, but it will get finished next week.)

For dust collection on the router, I purchased ShopSabre's upgraded dust skirt, which works really good. The design pulls dust just from a circle around the spindle. (It had to be modified to work on the ShopSabre 23 machine, which is a bit of a bummer considering the cost....) I also received the standard dust boot, with the brush all the way around the perimeter. It works decent, but not nearly as well.


The installation of the ductwork was pretty easy to do, though it was time consuming. The spiral duct was easy to work with, and the duct layout was pretty straight forward. I confess I was in sheet metal union for 3 years, but that didn't help me since I didn't hang a single piece of duct while I was there.

I used spiral ductwork, because my dust collector "might" be able to collapse lighter gauge duct. I'm not sure if it is totally necessary, but that is the advice I got from Oneida.

I almost managed to order everything I needed the first time. I was short 1 section of 8" pipe. I got it wrong because the actual placement of the dust collector ended up being a little different from the drawing I had made. But I was able to finish it up with a piece of hardware store duct--I put it on the pressure side to avoid any issues. And I also needed an extra 8" elbow, which I put on the pressure side as well.

I'm still working out where I want the vacuum lines to run, so that isn't done. I'm not very good at imagining all the details from the beginning, so I'm just sneaking up on the final design. (I capped off the un-used piping temporarily, which isn't shown in the photo.)

To Do list:

I want to invent an insulated and thermally non-conductive blast gate for where the duct passes through the wall. I want to see if it is possible to make an automatic opening gate, one that uses the suction from the dust collector to open the gate. It should be possible. But even if I can't make it work, I need to make some kind of insulated blast gate, whether it is a conventional design or something fancier.

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66 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
And finally! Roughing my new mold. I finished drawing this 3.5 months ago, and now I finally get to see it come to life.


(Edit: in the photo I am roughing with a 1/2" bull nose end mill, 1/4" step over, 1/4" depth of cut, and maxed out at 300ipm. I think 14,000 rpm. I don't know if I can push it harder, but it isn't complaining.)

I explained elsewhere that originally I planned to have a shop do the machining for me. But when I finished the CAD work, they told me it would cost $1,350. I paid ~$14,000 for the ShopSabre, including spindle, phenolic top, upgraded dust skirt, and vacuum table. Having the guy machine 1 mold is roughly 10% of that cost, so a no brainer.

It has been 7 months since I decided to transition to working digitally. It's been a struggle, and the months of waiting and delays have been depressing. But now I'm excited to think I could have the new version done early next week.

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66 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A quick update on the dust collector. I received the "sound filter" muffler attachment for the dust collector, and it does make a difference. Previously the noise coming from the filter sounded a bit like a jet engine, and the main source of noise was the filter. But now it is more of a white noise, which is easier on the ears, and the sound isn't all coming from the filter.

Based on the app on my phone, the difference is 4-5db. (A 3db drop in spl = 50% reduction in sound energy...SPL is a logarithic scale. And 3 db is noticeably softer to our ears, but sometimes is considered the minimum threshhold for a person to notice a difference in sound level.)

I'm happy with it. I don't feel any need to wear hearing protection while running the dust collector, which means I am likely to run it more than I would if it was brutally loud.

· Super Moderator
753 Posts
awesome - simply awesome set up. I know you are proud of it all.
as an ex-handyman, I have tried all the body gadgets to assist the body with the wear and tear.
back braces, ankle braces, knee pads, etc. if you can't find something that fits your body part that suits you, it is like wearing "one size fits all" prescription glasses - it just don't work.
wishing you all the best in your new adventures.
(looking forward to seeing some of your projects after the trademark/patent process).

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I cleaned out my dust barrel today and figured I should give a short update.

So far I have filled and emptied my barrel twice (55gal), and I emptied the fine dust pan in the filter once. The amount of fine dust that made it's way to the filter is so small that it is hardly worth mentioning.


I was expecting that there would be a lot more fine dust making it's way to the filter. Most of the dust I'm making is pretty fine to start with, especially compared to woodworking tools like planers, shapers, table saws, etc.

I am pleased with the result. The system is doing what it it is meant to do, which is all I can ask. It collects the vast majority of dust and chips on my router, and the noise level is low enough that I can run it all day or all night, without it being a problem for me or for my neighbors.

Overall I think it was the right choice. It does it's job without any drawbacks besides the obvious things like upfront cost and size. Suction is great, it isn't too loud, and it really isn't oversized. (I questioned if I was over-doing it with this unit; I don't think so.)
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