Garages and Basements are often the best spot to set-up your wood shop. But what is the best way? With limited space, and often limited budgets the best will may not be the most efficient. One of the themes of this website is learning to do your woodworking in a non-dedicated space such as a functional two-car garage. If the space is normally used for parking cars, then the key factors in shop design are overall compactness and the portability of bench-top tools. Woodworking hobbyists whose aspirations exceed their available space might benefit from the information and opinions.
How to Build a Garage Workshop
Some might say that Ron's friend Jim over in Trumbull, Connecticut is a pack rat. Ron can certainly understand. There are lots of things that you just don't want to throw away because you never know when you might need them. But sometimes you just need to get rid of stuff. Ron paid Jim a visit to help.
Smart Shop in a One-Car Garage Wood Shop
Tales of bad shops are a woodworker’s war stories. After living in five houses in seven years, I have plenty of them to tell: ladders under closeted trapdoors that descended into windowless basements, ceilings that were only an inch taller than I am when I stand barefoot, abandoned radiators, wasp nests, snow, water—good Lord, the water—and a hole in the middle of one shop floor (about 2 ft. in diameter and 2 ft. deep) just behind the in-feed side of my table saw. Oh, yes, I could tell you some stories. But that’s not my point. My point is that when I moved into a rented house with a one-car garage—9 ft. wide and 18 ft. long—most of my coworkers wondered how I would fit a shop into such a tight space. But after the shops I’ve endured, I felt like I’d finally arrived.
Roll-Away Workshop for the Garage
After many years living in central Florida, I received an invitation to relocate to Tucson, Ariz. Having been an active woodworker for 18 years, I placed adequate shop space high on my list when it came time to buy a home. While it would have been nice to find a house with a separate garage wood shop, my wife and I settled on one with a spacious 23-ft. by 23-ft. two-car garage. This presented me with a challenge: create an efficient and comfortable workshop that could accommodate big projects but still make room for the family cars. So I began laying out the basic requirements needed to share my table saw with my parking space.
Turn a garage into a functional and good-looking DIY workshop by first clearing the garage completely. Like a clean canvas, an empty garage lets you plan what you need rather than planning around the clutter. Lay out cabinets, counters, shelves, drawers, pegboards and bins for a workshop with a place for everything and then put everything in its place.
My Basement Workshop
In 2007, I moved to a different city. So, I needed to set up a new workshop at my new place. My old workshop was in a garage, but this time, I put the workshop in the basement. Initially, I figured this would be an interim measure until I could build a building for the workshop. But with the harsher Ottawa climate, I realized that having a basement workshop does have the advantage that I don't have to heat it up before going in there. This means that it's worth going in there for just 20 minutes of tinkering here and there, even in the winter.
The emphasis in this 12x16' basement shop was to squeeze in all the tools and machines needed for a complete workshop and still provide room to move around. Can you imagine how crowded the space would be if all the machines were on separate stands? The other challenge was to take care of the dust as quietly as possible.
We took a standard 24x24' double-car garage and designed the space to accommodate a nifty shop and the team had to think mobility, double duty, comfort, security, and cost. But in the end, one great similarity with our first effort stands out: bunches of terrific, easily adaptable ideas.
When we designed the wood shop you see here, we wanted to create a full-featured shop in a compact space. We started with a third stall of a 3-car garage, a feature found in many newer homes. You may not have this type of garage at your house. That s okay. Wherever you place your shop, we know you ll find a whole world of great ideas in this one that you can easily put to use.
Space-saving solutions for a Smart Garage Wood Shop for the One-Car Garage (PDF)
Fine Woodworking editor Matthew Teague has endured more than his fair share of unworkable shop spaces, so when he could call a one-car garage his own, it was heaven. Here's how he turned a 160-sq.-ft. garage into a smoothly running shop. Through clever use of mobile bases and sensible organization, all major machines are stored and fully functional in this small space. This article will help you create a workable shop in limited space.
Giant DIY Garage Cabinet
Don't let the size of this project fool you. It may be big, but you can build it in a weekend. The cabinet is just a basic box: nothing more than simple framing covered with plywood. Installing the doors is exactly like installing sliding closet doors. You only need inexpensive hollow-core doors and sliding door hardware.
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