I met Frank Pellow at the fine woodworking forum FamilyWoodworking.org.

He posted a link in FamilyWoodworking to his book “The Story of a Woodworking Shop,” which he describes as “a journal about planning, building, equipping, and using Frank Pellow’s shop.”

He started building – and writing – in 2003, two months after he retired. His journal gives a detailed account, step by step, of how he built himself a whole new shop in his backyard.

Here’s Pellow again with the thesis of his book… (it’s a sort of thesis of the internet too I think)

“In the past, almost all my construction projects have been undertaken with one or more other people. That has many benefits and, for me, the greatest benefit, is to be able to discuss design alternatives both initially and as unanticipated problems and opportunities arise.

This time, I started out alone but, as soon as I utilized the Internet, many folks came to my assistance.”

(all images below link to the forum thread which contains links to where you can download his book…)

Here’s his original basement shop:
frank pellow's basement woodworking shop

Here’s an excerpt from his preamble, where he states his intent (when he first thought to refurbish his existing wood shop instead of building one in the back yard):

I want a shop with several things not provided by my current shop:
• Natural light
• Better ventilation and dust collection
• Some 240 volt circuits
• About double the space
• Wider entry doors

Here’s his initial plan:

And here’s the rough sketch of the free standing wood shop he decided to build after realizing costs would be too high for a renovated shop:

Here’s the build, underway, after help from his friends from around the world in woodworking forums:

His book, which he’s made available for FREE on FamilyWoodworking.org, is a MUST READ if you’re building and/or populating your shop.

His thoroughness is engaging. The voice is plain, clear and personal. And I highly suggest you read every page as it’s filled with gems of experience that will help you with some “a-ha!” moments.

As I scanned through it I found that all the information he gathered from woodworkers online he highlighted in green. To his friends online he attributed great ideas and pictures for things like clamp storage racks, a rolling cabinet system, and a plywood storage solution.

Here is a concentrated “crowd sourced” section of his book:

There are many changes and those listed below were suggested by my friends on the internet:
• Removed all the floor receptacles in favour of ceiling receptacles.
• Changed the service from 60 amps to 100 amps. And, as recommended, the panel box is SquareD “QO” series.
• Moved the service box so that there would be more space around it.
• Buried loops in the wall for additional 240 volt receptacles should they be necessary.
• Used 10 gauge wire rather than 12 so that I can upgrade to 30 amps should I ever want
• All the 120 volt receptacles are GFCI protected.

Here is an unfinished exterior shot to give you a feel for its final look.

Here is an untooled interior photo from the north to the south of the shop:

Here’s a finished exterior shot:

Here is a finished interior shot, with tools:

So… what have been the results of Pellow’s book so far?

He told me by email:

“I have heard from more than 100 people, most of whom said something quite positive to say. Of these, about 20, have already taken some action based upon what they have read.”

Again, I recommend this “woodshop building” book to any and all who are passionate about woodworking and making their workspaces as functional, efficient and workable as possible.

An amazing work. And the shop looks great too ;)