Shop layout

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Forum topic by mamell posted 03-04-2016 02:17 PM 726 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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55 posts in 883 days

03-04-2016 02:17 PM

Hi again..
I’m in the long, agonizing process of reorganizing the garage which entails getting the Mrs to go along with getting rid of a lot of stuff she’s been collecting since, well, forever.. That’s actually the agonizing part.
My part is deciding how to lay things out. I have an area about 12 feet by 12 feet in a basic L shape in the corner of the garage with one small window.
Keep in mind this shop is rather new to me as we haven’t been together as long as many couples have so I won’t go into the whole longevity thing..
Now, there was/is an older bench that just has to go. It’s 2X4 and exterior plywood construction, about 12 feet long, 3 feet deep and a bit too tall to suit my arms built probably to support some flimsy jobs the previous owners did here whatever that was not to mention it’s seen better days. In any case it’s going to be disassembled and canabalized for the pieces worth reusing for other things and in its place a real workbench that will be my next big project coming up. I already have the vise ordered, but no bench to mount it on yet.

I don’t even know what the questions I have here, but I currently have a cheapo Ryobi table saw I have built on a rolling stand so it’s movable, my now infamous Harbor Freight drill press, a scroll saw and bench sander along with a few other odds and ends.. Oh yeah, the miter saw plus my growing collection of hand tools.
I’d like a station for the miter saw with space on either side to support whatever I need to cut, but also support (out/infeed supports for the table saw and so on..
As time has gone on I’ve grown more used to and fond of using hand tools as opposed to power equipment so I suppose the issue really is to organize storage to make things such as planers, saws, chisels, etc., more accessable than merely tossing everything in my tool chest. I used to run a body shop so the layout is quite different than a woodshop. I have no real need for a spray booth more than a few feet and I’m sure not dragging in any wrecked cars or trucks anymore..My days of turning wrenches and breathing in lead, paint and bondo are over..(not that sawdust is 100% better by any stretch, but it does smell better) Part of me misses that, but that’s another story for another day. Amazing that sand paper no longer has the same appeal to me it once did sanding down bondo and paint.. ;) One thing doesn’t change and that’s the desire to put quality above quantity and the desire to keep learning new things.

I guess I’m asking for ideas and/or suggestions about laying out a shop. Do I need cabinets to store things moreso than I would if I was storing wrenches and air tools? In the body shop there aren’t that many tools where keeping edges nice and sharp is all that important whereas a woodshop that seems to be rather critical or am I wrong there?

Excuse me if I’m rambling here.. I’m trying to imagine this shop in my minds eye before investing in things I’ll later wish I hadn’t. This isn’t a business for me anymore so it’s more about being comfortable in my shop more than organizing for speed and volume. I don’t have customers to impress or a boss nor employees to worry about so I have more time than money on my hands here, but I would like to set things up the right way.. I’m not really sure that I have an actual question at all, just looking for ideas more than anything..

Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to any responses..

-- Never underestimate the power of the history of sliced bread. Sliced bread is still the greatest thing since sliced bread.

2 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1354 posts in 919 days

#1 posted 03-04-2016 03:49 PM


Congrats on freeing up some shop space. The space you have will make for a tight work shop, but your passion for hand tools perhaps helps a lot by keeping some larger stationary tools out of the space. I have some thoughts; I hope you find them helpful.

Organizing the shop so that moving stuff around is minimized allows more time to be spent on the project. I find that throughout a project, I am consistently using the table saw and the crosscut saw. However, in a small space a table saw with a crosscut sled can eliminate the mitre saw – in most cases. Therefore, locating the table saw where it is always available and mostly out of the way would be convenient. If dedicating a space for the table saw can be accomplished, perhaps some dead space around the table saw can be used for storage. A table saw storage cabinet could be a roll around outfeed table which also serves as a router table. The cart could also serve as a roll around utility table.

Wall cabinets built to accommodate specific tools, making some cabinets deeper than others can keep things organized and at hand. When planning the shop, items that are in front of a cabinet can make reaching into a cabinet difficult. Also head banging can be a problem so placement is important. By using a rubberized shelf liner from the home center in cabinets eliminates most of the concern over dulling blades. But simply hanging stuff on the wall also works. However, hanging items are exposed to dust and this system can require a lot of wall space.

Preparing a scale drawing of the workshop and scale cut outs representing tools and cabinets is fairly easy and a fast way to run through a number of different configurations. This method also highlights any issues that might otherwise be missed until the shop is set up. When laying out the shop, ensuring enough space is left available for assembled projects makes using the shop during the later stages of a project easier. A small shop can easily fill with a lot of tools, leaving nowhere to assemble a project.

When you start designing the new workbench, consider setting it on locking heavy duty casters and design the workbench height to be at table saw height. The bench will then stay out of the way when making table saw cuts and can be used as an infeed or out feed table.

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 1452 days

#2 posted 03-05-2016 02:33 AM

Lay out your shop according to your workflow. Incomming lumber & storage & chop saw. The TS, planer & DC are normally next. Assembly & finishing area. Make boxes/shelves/cabintets as required. You have to use the shop for a while to figure out the fine tuning. Put everything on wheels. What works for you is the ‘correct’ shop layout. Build storages for the spouse’s stuff FIRST!


-- Madmark -

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