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Thread: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

  1. #1
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    Default Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Greetings! I'm relatively new to boat building and have so far been building boats up to 20 feet in length. I'm a member of a maker space that will be moving into a new location and we're planning the layout. We'll have a dusty shop/tool area and several non-dusty "clean" areas. I have two questions for the group:

    1) If you were designing a new wood shop space what would be at the top of your wish list from a boat building perspective? We're having great discussions about possible layout ideas, but it's been driven from a furniture maker's mindset. We'll have power tools, hand tool storage and benches and we have a fair bit of space to work with. For example, the initial design had the two table saws configured in such a way that infeed and outfeed was limited to 10 feet. I've asked that the milling equipment have at least 20 feet of infeed and outfeed clearance. What are some other boat shop must-haves, aside from a view of Babson or Marrowstone Island?

    2) I will likely be building my boat in the "clean" space and not in the tool area. For a lot of steps (e.g., assembly or painting/varnishing) this should be fine. The challenge comes when it's time to sand. I'll be using a vacuum hooked up to my sanders, but I'm not sure that's sufficient to keep things clean. Someone suggested some type of mobile dust tent that could be wheeled over the boat when I'm generating dust. Has anyone built, seen, or thought about something like this?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Watching with interest! I wouldn't limit your tablesaw range to 20 feet, though. It might help to orient it so long bits can infeed/outfeed through a door or two to enable cutting mast pieces. Same with a bandsaw. All of mine are on rollers so I can orient them to get nearly infinite feed length. We've resawn 15' timbers with no problem. But dust is an ever present problem as it's one big space.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Festool does a pretty good job of capturing dust. Also helps preserve the sanding person's lungs from nasty dust.
    Good luck

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    There are tons of mobile / portable / inflatable spray booths for painting (mostly cars) that might work. Here's one from a 30-second Google search -
    https://www.amazon.com/Inflatable-Sp...58261990&psc=1
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Fesstool and Fein both have industrial strength dust capture. One sales rep for one of those companies was famous for showing up at trade shows in a black suit to sand Corian. Think about it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    I might add that I am satisfied with my Onieda dust collection system. I did a lot of research before choosing their system. They offer assistance in planning a system which helped a lot, once I knew where machines would be placed. It is set up with a cyclone extractor and an overhead system of ducting. I like the floor trap that allows chips and dust to be directed into it by a push broom.
    Jay
    https://www.oneida-air.com/

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Desires clustered near the top of my list (in no particular order):
    • A way to get the boat out of the space. ie a big enough door.
    • A gantry crane. Baring that.. points on the ceiling where I can hang a couple of chain hoists capable of lifting whatever I'm going to build.
    • Heat
    • Plenty of light. Daylight if I can get it.
    • Built in compressed air.
    • A killer dust vac system.
    • Plenty of electrical outlets.

    My shop has all of the above although there is a limit as to how big a boat I can build. My table saw is unmovable... at least, it isn't practical to move it. Too heavy and the electric is hard wired. I have only a 14 foot limit for length but I manage. The same holds for my bandsaw. I manage. I'm alone in my space so I can deal with the dust issue. When I want to varnish or paint I do a cleanup and let things settle overnight. Then I do the finishing without raising any more new dust. This works fine for me because I don't have to deal with shop partners who can't/won't adhere to my schedule.

    Good luck with the new shop. It'll be fun.

    Jeff
    Last edited by jpatrick; 03-07-2019 at 04:10 PM. Reason: fixed some weird punctuation

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    If you will be steaming wood for carvel planking, you might want to think about how that is going to fit in. You only have a few seconds to get the wood bent in.

    Light on the sidewalls, for painting -- not just the ceiling. Light everywhere.

    I like my shop wood stove.

    A strong overhead for hoisting many things in many places.

    Lots of rubber mats on the floor if it's concrete.

    An infeed table that has 2 slots in it, about 1.5" wide, for ripping sheets of plywood -- one slot across, one lengthways. That way you can lay the sheet on the table, position it, then climb on and rough-cut it with a skilsaw. This is much easier than handling full 8 ft sheets on a table saw.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Guys - thanks for the great ideas! I appreciate having all the shop layout/setup ideas during this stage of the process. I definitely need to go look at the ceiling to see how we can rig something up there.

    We'll have two dust collectors in the shop area, but as of right now there won't be one in the "clean" space. The inflatable spray booth would be nice but is a bit beyond our current budget. I'll be looking into the Oneida, Festool and Fein products.

    Thanks!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    An infeed table that has 2 slots in it, about 1.5" wide, for ripping sheets of plywood -- one slot across, one lengthways. That way you can lay the sheet on the table, position it, then climb on and rough-cut it with a skilsaw. This is much easier than handling full 8 ft sheets on a table saw.
    Dave - We looked into a panel saw but I don't think it made the final cut. Your infeed table idea sounds like it would be a good solution for us. Just to clarify, do you center the cut lines over the slots so the blade doesn't cut into the table? Would you be able to share a picture of it?

    Thanks!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    A lot of sanding can be avoided through the use of cabinet scrapers and smoothing planes. They take a bit more work to keep sharp, but the shavings are easier to deal with than the dust.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

    Ben Sebens, RN

    15' Welsford Navigator Inconceivable
    16' W. Simmons Mattinicus double ender ​Matty

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedarfish View Post
    Guys - thanks for the great ideas! I appreciate having all the shop layout/setup ideas during this stage of the process. I definitely need to go look at the ceiling to see how we can rig something up there.

    We'll have two dust collectors in the shop area, but as of right now there won't be one in the "clean" space. The inflatable spray booth would be nice but is a bit beyond our current budget. I'll be looking into the Oneida, Festool and Fein products.

    Thanks!
    I will second the festool sanders and dust collectors. My festool sanders are outstanding tools. And the attached dust collector, though expensive, is essential safety equipment IMO (assuming one is building an wood/epoxy boat).

    As to the ceiling for hoists, I would not worry too much about it if it doesn't look easy. I build a gantry for the 25 foot boat I am building out of a bunch of 2 by 6s and 2 by 4s. It is plenty stout for the 25 foot boat I am building and I think it may have cost around 300 bucks in materials (not counting the chain hoists), perhaps two days labor. I realize 300 dollars is significant, so if the ceiling works out great, but in the grand scheme of things, it is no problem to build something that will work.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Although my dust collection is pretty good I had a nasty reaction to some dust ( sapele? Epoxy? ) and bought a Powermatic 1250 to clean the air. Not cheap but if it keeps the Dr. away, well worth it.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    My lottery boat shop would have the dust collection machinery outside the shop in a heated space. Dust collection would either be automatically triggered by whichever machine I'm using or by a remote control. I dislike the sound of my cheap Delta collector and find the walk to switch it on very tedious.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Yevsky View Post
    My lottery boat shop would have the dust collection machinery outside the shop in a heated space. Dust collection would either be automatically triggered by whichever machine I'm using or by a remote control. I dislike the sound of my cheap Delta collector and find the walk to switch it on very tedious.

    It's very easy to add a remote control start/stop switch to a dust collector. I bought one at ACE hardware for about $25. Simple remote with two buttons: start & stop.

    Jeff

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Festool is out of my budget, but a lesser shopvac can work- esp if it’s outside the building. Any dust blowby is then not problematic.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  17. #17
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    Default Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    The only dust free shop is the one you do not work in!! 😜


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Raka025; 03-09-2019 at 01:35 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Vacuums can often clog with fine dust and then run hot. This unit can forestall that: https://www.acehardware.com/departme...sories/2408706

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    My background is in operating and upgrading fully equipped shops for work with wood, foam, and composites in an art & industrial design school setting. The best we have achieved in terms of dust control for health purposes has used a combination of solutions. Key is to have external extraction, ducted properly (this requires careful planning) and sized to take into account how many machines will require extraction at any given time. Blast gates (available with remote switching) can greatly enhance dust extraction at individual machines in a shop with many different machines. The reason for external rather than internal installation is to reduce the noise levels (which will already be high) in the working spaces, and to allow for ease of cleanout without spillage back into the shop.

    We also have had good success with downdraft tables for sanding smaller pieces (e.g. a wooden chair frame, or a small table top) - these can be bought as stand-alone units, or one can fabricate one's own provided a good source of suction is available. They can be connected to the main extractor as well, but must have a blast gate for shutoff when not in use. A good additional accessory for a downdraft table is a flexible-arm extraction hood that can be moved around and positioned to best advantage on the workspace.

    The various portable vacuum/dust extractor systems can work with a properly fitted cowling on the tool, but none have the power to collect fines like a large extractor with a cyclone style seperator and big filter bags, and the vacuum cleaner types require frequent cleaning to work well. Good for one person use, not so good in a multi-user busy shop, but better than nothing.

    Our final (and crucial) component was a requirement for users to possess decent PPE, and to use it. This required some on-going education combined with role-modelling by the more experienced users. There's a tendency (especially amongst young men) to "cowboy" it and say that they aren't worried. In the school setting (post-secondary), we were able to be tough about this. It wouldn't be so easy in a multi-user shop setting.

    Finally, I would recommend that if you intend to sand and finish in the same location seperate from the shop, plan it (if possible) to be a seperated area which can be hosed or washed down by hand. Autobody shops do this and they require absolutely dust-free environs for painting. We achieved this in a dedicated room with a concrete floor by attaching sheet metal to the walls and ceiling, and making sure the built-in light fixtures were reasonably water-tight. One could use sheet plastic on the walls as well, but plastic does have an tendency to hold a static charge and thus attract dust.

    I realize all of the above suggests big budgets and deep pockets - do what you can, and work out early-on a set of protocols which will help ensure one person's need to sand doesn't compromise another's need for a fine finish.

    Best of luck,
    Dale Gamble

  20. #20
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Blues View Post
    Although my dust collection is pretty good I had a nasty reaction to some dust ( sapele? Epoxy? ) and bought a Powermatic 1250 to clean the air. Not cheap but if it keeps the Dr. away, well worth it.
    Considered that in the past, how effective is it?

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    OSHA aside, when I read about people agonizing over milli-micron dust collection systems and "clean booths" for spray painting, I can't reconcile that with all the real boat-building shops I've ever known. These weren't hobbyist shops either. They turned out the finest wooden boats that have ever been built on a production basis and made a living at it. Nobody was worrying about epoxy sensitization, either. They were full of stuff that could cut your fingers off or kill you if you drank it. If things got too dusty, you told the kid to sweep the floor. If the fumes got disagreeable, you opened the doors and windows. On a hot day, if you were lucky, there was a fan you could turn on. Generally speaking, their woodbutchers lived long, healthy lives, too. Maybe we're all getting a bit sissified these days.

    Here's a link to some great pictures of what a real boatshop should look like: Lowell's: https://thepatriotwoodworker.com/for...building-shop/
    Last edited by Bob Cleek; 03-14-2019 at 04:35 PM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Mr Cleek, you go ahead and think of yourself as becoming a sissy. But as for me... I think it's just being smart to take every precaution that one can to work safer.

    Jeff

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    When we were doing a big order for Disneyland, that consisted of the small boats used for the Mr. Toad attraction, we used epoxy in place of polyester resin. This was back in the beginning of the use of epoxy which was then experimental. The owner of our shop, developed an extreme reaciton to the resin and had to be hospitalized. A certain area of his anatomy became so swollen that he was forced to stand with his legs in parenthesize! After that he was so alergic to epoxy that it was banned from the shop and we went back to polyester resin.
    Jay

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    Considered that in the past, how effective is it?
    Two opinions, seems to be getting the job done, though you can’t see particles that small. I also am more careful about using the respirator and no longer sand epoxy indoors.
    Not sure if I’m out of the woods yet.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    Mr Cleek, you go ahead and think of yourself as becoming a sissy. But as for me... I think it's just being smart to take every precaution that one can to work safer.

    Jeff
    Different ships, different long splices, I suppose.

    The point is simply that traditional wooden boatbuilding methods and materials were much safer. In the old days, if you didn't drink the turpentine and eat the lead paint chips, you were fine. Today, everybody's shaping wood with sandpaper on disks, belts and drums and cutting wood with routers, thickness planers, and power saws that generate huge amounts of sawdust, filling the air with microscopic dust that covers everything, gets inhaled and makes us sick. In a traditional shop, a wood butcher could plane planks at the bench while ten feet away a painter could be varnishing a dinghy with no problems. I'm not saying that newer machines and materials are necessarily a bad thing, but there's usually a trade-off. There are hidden costs to tools and materials that replace sweat and skill and they are often greater than we realize.
    Last edited by Bob Cleek; 03-14-2019 at 04:55 PM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    When we were doing a big order for Disneyland, that consisted of the small boats used for the Mr. Toad attraction, we used epoxy in place of polyester resin. This was back in the beginning of the use of epoxy which was then experimental. The owner of our shop, developed an extreme reaciton to the resin and had to be hospitalized. A certain area of his anatomy became so swollen that he was forced to stand with his legs in parenthesize! After that he was so alergic to epoxy that it was banned from the shop and we went back to polyester resin.
    Jay
    Serves him right for playing with himself on the clock! Reminds me of the guy who went to the doctor complaining that after he retired his privates had turned bright orange. The doctor asked, "Now that you're retired, are you doing anything different?" The guy said, "I'm not doing much at all. I just sit in my easy chair all day eating Cheetos and watching porno videos."

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Quote Originally Posted by George Jung View Post
    Festool is out of my budget, but a lesser shopvac can work- esp if it’s outside the building. Any dust blowby is then not problematic.
    I have Festool sanders and I like them a lot, but paying 1K for hepa vac rubbed me the wrong way. I bought a 5 gallon Rigid shop vac and an auto switch. I did opt for the 9 foot Festool hose. It fits right on the Rigid hose. All in I spent about 50 bucks instead of a grand and it works beautifully.

    My tablesaw, jointer, and planer all attach to a big Rigid shop vac with an auto switch and the table saw has a Vortex dust separator as well. It requires a little work switching hoses here and there but it works as well as a stan alone dust collection system that I dont have room for.

    I still wear a dust mask when hand sanding. Dust Free is a great idea, but its never gonna happen in my shop so I do the best I can to be dust safe.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Boat shop layouts and dust free workspaces

    Willin... chuck that Festool hose and opt for a Fein. They're longer and much more flexible. I nearly went mad wrestling with the one that came with my Festool vac before I switched. The Festool connection fitting can be easily attached to the Fein hose.

    Jeff

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