Most shops fall into two categories: 1) you cram it in wherever it fits, be it a basement, a garage or the back of a truck or 2) You custom build it so that it is large enough for all the tools and storage you need. Mine is a hybrid: I built it, or rather had it built small enough to cram my whole shop into it. So why, when I had an opportunity to build, why did I build small. You might guess $, which is true, but only half the story. The other half is that it has to be small and portable.
At present, I live in an RV in a trailer park. Once we buy some land, I’ll be able to put it up on dollies and haul it to its permanent location. Furthermore, it and my RV have to fit in the same space as a regular mobile home. My RV is 34’ and my building, parked right behind it, is 24’. If you’re wondering, yes, we get a lot of strange looks.
Aside from being small, this shop has another problem: identity crisis. First, since I am a work-from-home computer programmer, I needed an office. So a corner of my 12’x24’ building is an 8’x8’ office. Second, living in an RV, with its tiny fridge and freezer, requires that I keep a chest freezer and small fridge in it. (This has turned into a kitchenette minus the water) Third, we need a place to keep our small library somewhere out of the way, yet accessible. Fourth, it has to serve as a storage of sorts for those things that need the climate controlled environment but don’t fit anywhere in the RV. Fifth, it has to serve as a small greenhouse; storing my garden tools and using the window area for seedlings. Last, it also has to serve as an office until my real office is ready for use.
I have to say that this has been a design challenge, and a lot of shuffling around in the mean time. Effectively, I have a 12’x17’ area that I share with the not so small library. In it I have squeezed in a Ridgid table saw, jointer, planer and oscilating combination spindle/belt sander, Ryobi benchtop drill press and band saw, Craftsman compound miter saw, router table, three moduler 2’x2’ tables on wheels and a tool chest. Amazingly, despite the crowded area, I can still rip a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood end-to-end and joint long boards. The project to make the library accessible yet out-of-the-way is in the works. See plan here
Hopefully, someday my workshop will have it’s own identity. Until then, it’s a bit schizophrenic.