The South­ern Yan­kee Workshop


Bill Barsh’s work­shops have pro­gressed from his first, in a 10×10' me­tal shed, to a one-car garage, a two-car garage, and fi­nally, his dream shop, built in 1995 on his prop­erty in Mis­sis­sippi. His hobby even­tu­ally grew into a small busi­ness, South­ern Yan­kee Workshop.

Step into Bill’s shop and the first thing that hits you is how bright it is. The walls, ceil­ing, and cabi­net faces are all white. Bright-white flu­o­res­cent fix­tures and LED task light­ing elim­i­nate shad­ows. A few win­dows let in nat­u­ral light. The se­cond thing you no­tice is his ra­dial-arm saw, a car­ry­over from the 1970s. He uses it mostly for rough cross­cuts and mak­ing half-lap join­ery.

Bill placed his dust col­lec­tor in the at­tic. Al­though chang­ing the dust-col­lec­tor bag is in­con­ve­nient, it’s a small price to pay for the re­duced noise and added floor space.

Sheet goods, cut­offs, and shop chem­i­cals are stored in an ad­ja­cent room. In­side the main shop, 86 draw­ers keep the work area clean and or­ga­nized. Yes, he knows what ev­ery drawer con­tains. For ad­di­tional stor­age, he lined the walls with a 30"-wide strip of peg­board.

When needed, Bill cre­ates a fin­ish­ing “room” in the corner by slid­ing a can­vas cur­tain along a wire on the ceil­ing. The cur­tain tucks in be­side the garage door when not in use. A com­bi­na­tion of open doors, fans, and vents en­sures fresh-air flow when spray­ing.

He plumbed in a cou­ple of con­ve­niences, too. A bath­room oc­cu­pies one corner of the shop, and a util­ity sink pro­vides easy cleanup of tools and fin­ish­ing gear.

Bill’s shop is an ex­am­ple of clean­li­ness and ef­fi­ciency in a re­lax­ing at­mos­phere. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

Shop or­ga­ni­za­tion re­volves around the table­saw. Bill can cut 4×8' sheets with the over­head door closed. He al­lowed plenty of walk­ing room be­tween sta­tion­ary tools and benches. Lum­ber/ sheet goods stor­age

tools and jigs at a con­ve­nient height. The heavy-duty work­bench and wall of cabinets serve as a project-assem­bly area.

Peg­board run­ning around the perime­ter of the shop pro­vides plenty of op­tions for hang­ing

Can­vas “walls” form a con­ve­nient tem­po­rary booth for spray­ing fin­ish.

Bill is an Air Force Viet­nam vet­eran and worked for 23 years on the space-shut­tle pro­gram. Find his shop on­line at south­ernyan­kee­work­

The at­tic houses project lum­ber and a dust col­lec­tor with a trash-can sep­a­ra­tor. The dust col­lec­tor is op­er­ated by a wire­less re­mote con­trol.

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