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Forum topic by Derek Lyons posted 10-15-2010 06:44 PM 2108 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Derek Lyons

584 posts in 2986 days

10-15-2010 06:44 PM

There not being a forum for shops, this seems the closest place…

To recap/summarize from my blog and shop tours:

My shop is essentially an oversized one car garage (min tour here). I need to keep space open for my wife to park in the winter.

After a busy summer that distracted me from woodworking, my shop rebuild is back on track. By the end of next week, all the construction will be complete and it will be time to haul the tools out of storage and start arranging them. I’ve fiddled for weeks with a plan – but can’t seem to come up with one that works.

So my question is this: Am I overthinking this? Just how important is an optimized workflow for a one man small hobbyist shop where everything is only a few steps apart?

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

17 replies so far

View lew's profile


11263 posts in 3174 days

#1 posted 10-15-2010 06:59 PM

As a basement shop dweller, I’ve tried to arrange stuff so that when working with any piece of stock longer than 6’ it doesn’t bang into another piece of equipment. Stuff sits at odd angles and elevations for clearance between the different machines. The idea of work flow is nice but it just doesn’t work in my situation.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2592 days

#2 posted 10-15-2010 07:02 PM

If you can get optimal work flow, you’ll never regret it.

If you cannot truly optimize your work flow, you’ll find a way to make do, and occasionally regret it.

NOW IS the time to overthink this, if ever you’re going to.

You’re not hurting anybody, right ?

-- -- Neil

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2592 days

#3 posted 10-15-2010 07:03 PM

Aw, heck.

I just looked at your shop pics.

If everything IS one wheels, then go nuts.

Change it around, and keep changing it around until you think you’ve found the sweet spot.

The wheeled tools thing means … it’s just NOT that big a deal to experiment a bit :-)

-- -- Neil

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 2986 days

#4 posted 10-15-2010 07:19 PM

Well, the question is more about the things not-yet-built that won’t be on wheels – like my lumber racks, chop saw station, tool storage, etc.. etc… The problem I’m having with over thinking, is I’m having a problem knowing when to stop thinking and start making sawdust…

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View dq2's profile


71 posts in 2222 days

#5 posted 10-15-2010 07:21 PM

I stopped thinking a long time ago … some folks call that mental-pause.

-- - DQ in Phoenix -

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2650 days

#6 posted 10-15-2010 07:26 PM

Just FWIW, I would LOVE to have a garage that large…

If space were more of an issue for you, then I would say just get it all in to where it works, keep it mobile, and have at it. You have plenty of space to work with though… Just start with the understanding that as you come in to the shop, you will need to break materials down, or store them. Have a space for that, then as you go along machining pieces, they will get smaller, and smaller… next you will have those pieces getting assembled. In my case, that goes back to the break down area… And lastly, finishing…

Given that your shop is on wheels more or less, you have more than enough space to wheel it out, wheel it in… If you find a layout that works well for you, just use duct tape on the floor to mark the position of each tool so you can quickly set up / break down… Either that or figure out a way to keep the wife’s car out of the shop.

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2299 days

#7 posted 10-15-2010 07:31 PM

Derek – I set up my first shop this year in my garage and trust me you are not over thinking it at all. I went into it blind and I have all ready re-arranged my shop a few times. As a matter of fact I still plan on moving some things. From my experience I would say that your main work bench and table saw are the two most important items as far as layout goes. Another thing I would put extra thought into is lumber storage and cut off storage. In my opinion the other tools are not as important when it comes to layout.

I have my table saw and workbench both centered in my garage. I have plenty of room to handle long boards and large sheets on my TS. Also my bench near my TS really helps. As for my bench I put up an assortment of shelfs, cabinets, hooks and other storage areas as close to my bench as possible. I make sure to keep any tool that I use often as close to my bench as I can. I learned this the hard way. If you are limited on space I would suggest an over head storage above your bench so you can hang your most used bench tools right above the bench.

I really over looked my lumber storage and cut off storage also. After tripping over cut offs and having my tables filled with them I decided to put cut off bins at every cutting tool.

Just my thoughts though.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2592 days

#8 posted 10-15-2010 08:35 PM

One option, in terms of lumber storage is to bury it … in a relatively unused corner.

THEN, use a rolling lumber cart.

You create your own little lumber yard. When you start a project, you shop in that dead corner, fill your cart with the materials needed for the project, and then put the rolling cart near … whatever (jointer/planer, or cutting tools, for example).

I might recommend you pay a little bit of money to use somebody ELSE’s thinking—at least in part.

For FIVE BUCKS, I think this is a great book:

I think I paid that for a USED copy.

Incidentally, why wouldn’t you put a chop saw station on wheels ? If you needed to, to maximize flexibility, I don’t see much downside—particularly if you build one FOR that purpose (ie, swing-a-way extension arms).

And Dan’s idea about multiple cutoff bins sounds like a winner. I have a fairly large corrugated box, in a corner. It serves as the basketball hoop for cutoffs. Every once in a while, I pick through it and organize them for the above-referenced dead-corner.

-- -- Neil

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2299 days

#9 posted 10-15-2010 10:26 PM

One more note about cut off bins – I started off by using some empty 5 gal buckets that I had and I found these to quickly over flow. I then had cut off bins with a mount of cut offs on the floor around them. I still use the buckets by some tools but I ended up building my own bins out of some scrap plywood.

Also, like Neil, after a while I will empty the bins and sort out anything I want to keep and move it to a different spot. The rest is saved for the wood burner.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2402 days

#10 posted 10-16-2010 08:44 PM

Lumber racks were one of the things I noticed looking at your pics. One of the things you can do for lumber storage would be to build some overhead lumber racks. Above the garage door is a good place for overhead storage. Maybe a wall rack for lumber that will be used currently, and a cutoff bin on casters for short pieces.

Along the wall near the garage door for that narrow strip by the door I would consider Building a workbench that provides storage below and tool storage on the wall above the bench. This is an area that will allow you work access without having to move items to get the car in and out. This will allow you more room to set up the other side with your table saw and other machines and not have to move them as often. A roll around workbench would also serve to pull out to put in the place where the car goes when the car isn’t in the shop, but can be rolled out of the way without much fuss.

Over thinking, is that what you call it when you sit in your shop for hours sometimes wondering if I did this or if I did that, or maybe move this here and that there. If your like some of us that will never change. There’s always room for improvement. Any how just some of my thoughts about gaining as much space as possible in a shared space.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View jusfine's profile


2405 posts in 2344 days

#11 posted 10-16-2010 09:03 PM

Hey, where’s the insulation? You can’t possibly live near Canada… :)

Check out my shop pics if that will help at all, it’s all personal preference, and based on what you build…

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 2986 days

#12 posted 10-17-2010 07:47 AM

Finding another spot for She Who Approves Tool Purchases’ car is just not an option… :) However, her car is only in there on winter week nights – which is also when I’m likely to not be in the shop anyhow.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 2986 days

#13 posted 10-19-2010 02:42 AM

Well, coming up on 21 years Boise. There’s probably a reason for that.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View widdle's profile


2054 posts in 2417 days

#14 posted 10-19-2010 03:11 AM

I am in a similiar situation.. Anyone have any other books to recomend ?

View Tdazzo's profile


56 posts in 2267 days

#15 posted 10-22-2010 03:41 AM

I often find decent WW books at some of my local used bookstores and found this one for a couple bucks recently:

It’s got what looks like a decent lumber rack solution with a swing out bin for sheet goods. Looks like it would take up a lot of wall space but my plan is to keep most of my tools on mobile bases so I can keep them in front of the rack and move them when I need to get to the sheet goods. Hopefully won’t be too much of a hastle. I couldn’t find the individual plan to link to but you may be able to get the whole book in e-book version for a couple bucks. Would be worth checking out in my opinion.

-- "If you can't do something smart, do something right." -- Sheppard Book

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