Maintaining a Wood Shop in Limited Space
Maintaining a Wood Shop in Limited Space
The space available for a home shop varies in each case. Examining how others in similar situations handled the situation, it may give you an idea of how to handle your own situation. Keeping a shop in this tight of a space can't be achieved in a haphazard manner - it requires a solid strategy. Periodic restructuring is possible, but not an effective use of time or materials, so a good set of guiding concepts is called, set it up right the first time, and save the time and effort needed to re-do it.
The easy-to-maintain workshop getaway When he decided that his detached two-car garage workshop had too many demands placed upon it--mainly, the parking of his pickup, wife Jolene's car, and two Victory motorcycles--he made his big move. He designed and then contracted the building of a 30'x36' addition onto the back of his garage. To allow room for his ceiling lights and dust-collection ducting, he designed a 9' ceiling.
When you are looking at the workshop layout for woodworking each wood worker will be faced with a unique set of challenges in order to build one that is right for them. Firstly they will need to decide where it is going to be located. Will it be in the basement, the garage or will it have its own dedicated building? Certainly the decision on where it is located is probably the most important decision that a wood worker will need to make with regard to their workshop. Once this has been decided they can move on to the next stage.
Planning the layout of your workshop early in its development can keep you from spending years in an uncomfortable, poorly organized space.
While trying to figure out how to lay out my new basement workshop I couldn't figure out how to place the table saw and joiner in the back part of the workshop. Rather than fiddle with a CAD program, I just cut up some pieces of wood to serve as a layout model for the workshop. I tried to figure out a good layout for where to put my old table saw, joiner, and slot mortise in the back of my shop (left on the photo at left). As it turned out, even with a nice layout model, I still couldn't figure out a good placement for these tools that didn't result in some sort of interference here and there.
A Woodworking shop layout should work smoothly and efficiently. However, in most shops that I've seen, planning is lacking. With all the machines and materials required for a project, a shop can get crowded and cramped. All it takes is a little planning. You can make your shop layout for woodworking efficient. The key to planning is to think about how a typical project "flows" through the shop. Then establish an area for each part of the process.
As woodworkers we all love to look at the latest and greatest gadgets to use in our shop and then find that we ask ourselves where we would put them. Or maybe we just buy it and end up storing them somewhere never to be seen again. The fact is we all probably need to get rid of our junk and organize the things which we regularly use.
When I built my new shop, I knew right from the start that I would be hanging a lot of tools and supplies on the walls. I also knew from my previous shops that locations and requirements would change as new tools were added. Rather than punching more holes in the walls every time I needed to hang or move something, I opted instead to mount two rows of cleats around the entire shop. Getting items off the ground and my workbenches is easier (and neater-looking) than ever. I mount as much as I can on the wall cleats—everything from clamp organizers to the pencil sharpener.
Here’s a work space that’s huge and accessible from all sides yet folds up and stows away easily. If you don’t have room for a full-size permanent workbench but really need space to spread things out, this workbench is it. It opens to a solid 4 x 7-ft. surface with both wings up, yet closes and rolls into a small 4-ft. x 18-in. spot in a corner of the room. It’s a perfect work space for the garage or basement. It’s also a great surface for making repairs, working on hobbies, cutting sewing patterns, wrapping gifts, folding laundry, doing stained glass crafts or even just holding a mechanic’s parts.
Every day spent building out his garage meant another day away from the pleasure of working on his cars. To avoid the mess of drywall mud and sanding, chose easy-install products for the walls and ceilings.
This Washington workshop isn't much bigger than the half of the two-car garage where he used to work. But his new 16x24' shop is so much better. There's no need to move the family cars. And with a 12'-high vaulted ceiling and a covered porch extending the work area, has all the space he needs.
That headline struck me as discouraging. As an entry fee, $5,000 seems high enough to exclude a number of potential woodworkers, myself included. Christiana softened the blow by saying that used tools could cut the cost roughly in half. That figure seemed much closer to my experience, which involved buying a mix of new and used tools. Having said that, buying the right used tools is much more difficult than buying from a catalog or dealer who stocks everything needed to build a great shop. It requires a bit of guile and a good plan, but the payoff is worth it. Through careful choices and good fortune, I was able to outfit my shop with a blend of new and used tools for around $2,000.