Table saw location in a small shop, 20x17

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Forum topic by Paul posted 08-21-2014 03:16 AM 2347 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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719 posts in 987 days

08-21-2014 03:16 AM

I’ve wrestled a bit lately with the location of my shop tools as I bring more in. The tool I move around the most is my table saw. Being a VERY small shop I tend to do glue ups on my table saw as I have more room on top of it than any other surface.

I have 2 table saws in the center of the shop currently in a cluster with a router table/accessory table that houses my air cleaner. I’m bringing in 3 base cabinets to reconfigure for a client this weekend and wonder what those of you with small shops do with larger projects. I have another 20×17’ room I have move finished cabinets into.

Do most of you small shop people center your table saw to you shop or have you found better real estate locations?

This is the current center of the shop.

Both saws normally get cleared off for working with cabinets.

How do you guys manage tiny shops bringing in larger projects?


15 replies so far

View InstantSiv's profile


259 posts in 1017 days

#1 posted 08-21-2014 04:01 AM

My woodworking portion, in the basement, is 16×14. I used to have the table saw out of the way and wheel it out when I needed it but got tired of moving it around. I’ve now located it where the right side is pushed against a wall. My workbench is 2’x4’ and doubles as the outfeed behind the saw. I really like this new arrangement. The center of the shop is nice and open and all the tools are around the perimeter.

I don’t do very many larger projects but do have a routine for em. For larger projects I’ll do rough work out in the driveway where I’ll setup a breakdown cutting table. I’ll then bring them down to the basement where I’ll cut to size and assemble on the workbench or on the floor if it’s larger than the workbench. If you can, setting up a staging area out side of the shop to stage materials and do stuff like rough cutting and having a finished area where you temporarily store stuff finished parts/assemblies outside the shop really helps keep the clutter out of the shop and speeds up the work in the shop.

View Paul's profile


719 posts in 987 days

#2 posted 08-21-2014 05:10 AM

I guess I should refine my question further to a single room situation. I break down sheet goods etc in the one room my shop is located in.

Where do you space your equipment in a tiny shop to get the most use out of it without moving it too much?


View Loren's profile


8164 posts in 3070 days

#3 posted 08-21-2014 06:32 AM

My solution was to build a vertical panel saw.

I do still use a table saw but I’m not enslaved by its
work envelope for breaking down full sheets so
it is kind of in the corner. I move it sometimes
with a pallet jack to get outfeed clearance for
longer rips.

View Paul's profile


719 posts in 987 days

#4 posted 08-21-2014 06:59 AM

My solution was to build a vertical panel saw.
- Loren

I mentioned room was an issue, I’m glad you had room for your panel saw.


View knotscott's profile


7146 posts in 2798 days

#5 posted 08-21-2014 09:23 AM

Grizzly has an excellent shop layout tool on their website. It’s free and easy to use. It allows you try all kinds of layouts with scale outlines of tools in your shop dimensions. Sure beats the trial and error of rearranging…

My “allowable” usable shop is in less than half of a two car garage (the left side of the pic), so is roughly 11×20. but at least has the visual floor space of 20×20, most of which is dedicated to other things. This arrangement works pretty well if I keep it neat, but I still struggle with big projects, and I don’t keep it as neat as I should!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Robin1's profile


120 posts in 913 days

#6 posted 08-21-2014 03:12 PM

I think Loren was saying that the panel saw replaced the table saw as the tool to break down sheet goods. Panel saws take up a smaller footprint than a table saw and can be used against a wall. The shop at the college where I work did the same thing- we couldn’t fit a stationary table saw because we wanted the center of the room free for assembly tables. The department purchased a panel saw for us to cut sheet goods with and we use a DeWalt saw like yours for ripping narrow stock. Both operate next to a wall, leaving the center of the room open. Ours cost about $1200 but you can make your own for less and it would probably be more accurate.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7716 posts in 1802 days

#7 posted 08-22-2014 06:22 PM

TS is as close to the center as I can get it, facing the door, everything else is arrayed around it. I really don’t have much choice as I only have power on 2 walls, and the 4 windows + door limit where I can place things. As for large projects I just stopped doing them, it was too much trouble as my TS is also my assembly table.


View Crank50's profile


170 posts in 998 days

#8 posted 08-22-2014 06:39 PM

A panel saw takes up very little floor space, just a lot of wall space.
But, I have seen some DIY designs where there is just a rail mounted high on the wall, and everything hangs off the rail. Even saw one that had the rail above a garage door and the parts were all removable when not actually set up for cutting.

I plan to build me a panel saw some day for exactly the reason that it’s the least footprint for breaking down sheet goods.

As far as the other layout suggestions, I have often seen that a small shop needs the right hand side of the table saw against a wall. A router can be built into the left hand side. Everything else actually parks around the perimeter and some things get pulled out into the center for working with long stock.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7716 posts in 1802 days

#9 posted 08-22-2014 07:48 PM

If worked more with sheet goods I would build an outdoor vertical (incline really) panel saw, then just detach the saw and bring it inside when finished.


View JayT's profile


4681 posts in 1633 days

#10 posted 08-22-2014 08:41 PM

I envy your very small shop that is three times the square footage of mine. Table saw is in the middle and it also gets used as a glue table by covering with an old countertop. I do have it on a mobile base and it gets moved about a foot back and forth to create a bigger walkway and work area around the drill press. Sheet goods are broken down in the driveway or yard with a clamping guide and cordless circular saw before being brought in.

When weather is decent, I can use the single car garage to store in progress projects, as the wife parks outside. It’s pretty amazing how fast you can bundle up a project and get it in the shop to empty the garage when a hail storm is coming.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View jmartel's profile


6474 posts in 1572 days

#11 posted 08-22-2014 08:47 PM

I recently looked in an old issue of Wood magazine where they made a panel saw that rotated down from the ceiling. Could work.

And the TS is probably best in the center. I’ve got a 16×18 and that’s how it’s set up.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View splatman's profile


546 posts in 821 days

#12 posted 08-24-2014 05:30 AM

A low-tech approach to shop layout planning, is to draw the shop floor on a sheet of paper, and cut out pieces of cardboard or paper to represent the tools, machines, and furniture to the same scale as the shop floor drawing. I once helped my sister arrange her bedroom using this approach. Then cut out pieces of cardboard/paper to represent sheet goods and boards, to see how things will work out.

View sawdust703's profile


270 posts in 842 days

#13 posted 08-24-2014 11:41 PM

I had my shop in our basement in a 10’ x 14’ room for many years. I moved my table saw in & out of the room as i needed it. As I started to acquire more toys, my wife told me it was time for me to move them out.:( My shop is now across the street from our house in what was, for many years, laugh if ya want, a beauty shop. I have about 12’ x 25’ for my main work area. My table saw sits off to the left of my 3’ x 3’ project table. My TS is mobile, so I can move it, if I need to. I have my 3 scroll saws on stands on the west wall of the shop, all with their own electricity. On the North wall of my shop, I have my band saw & drill press, on stands I have built for them. They Also have their own electricity. Also on the north wall, on one of the counter tops that is in the shop, I have all my battery chargers & cordless drills. Just above the the counter top, I have several wood screw compartments I have made. They are fastened to the wall. On the east wall of my shop, I have my belt & disc sander, router & router table, & planer. They have their own electricity. On the south wall of my shop, is my RAS in its bench. it uses the same circuit as the planer & sander. I have a few small peg boards on the walls for hand tools & such, along with some shelves I’ve built for other electric tools in cases. My nailers, sanders, routers, jig saws, & a few other tools are on a shelf I built into the frame of my project table. Being used to not havin’ much room, & organizing things into a workable situation was nothing new, but getting the tools to electricity was. My wood is stored in the back of the shop in another room, away from everything else. I have enough windows & a door to open, so dust control really isn’t a problem, unless its cold, then I use my shop vac. My compressor is in the back room with the lumber, & the air hose is run to front. Its A LOT quieter that way!!;) It took me awhile to get things organised, but it works for me now. Not being able to lift a full sheet of anything anymore, I have grandsons to help me move them to the TS for cut down. I also learned that with limited space, hang on the wall what ya can! Its out of the way! My sand paper rack is also on the south wall, between the RAS & the walk in door. My Sanding discs are on a peg board, in their containers. I didn’t mean to ramble, but the point is, if you really study your situation, you can set it up however it works for you! In a small shop, EVERY inch counts, & the more cramped your equipment is, the bigger chance you have of an accident!! Trust me, I can tell you from experience!

-- Sawdust703

View comboprof's profile


277 posts in 1156 days

#14 posted 08-25-2014 12:00 AM

My shop is 12 by 22. A bit cramped, but I am working on it. My table saw is a craftsman 113 so a smaller contractors saw. I’m reluctant to upgrade to a larger saw because of the space issue. It is on wheels and sits behind my huge 20” bandsaw in roughly the center of the shop near the right wall as I face and use the saw. There is a small path around the saw so that I can get to the wall of clamps. I have the lumber yard beak down sheet goods to my specifications usually about in half or thirds, cost me I think 0.50 cents a cut. I have a place to store 4 by 4 pieces and another for 2 by 8. I never keep many such sheets. I try to buy just enough for the project. Other wise they stay in the back of the truck. I have to move and maneuver the saw if I wont to cut some thing longer or wider than 6’. Its on wheels. Same issue with the Radial arm saw. which is centered along the back of the 12 foot wall.

-- -- Cheers, Don K. (Michgan's Kewenaw peninsula)

View Paul's profile


719 posts in 987 days

#15 posted 08-25-2014 12:23 AM

Thanks for all the great replies guys. I got a lot out of this thread. It rained a TON in Chicago yesterday and I was moving cabinets out of the back of my wet truck bed when I slipped ending up face first on the garage floor. Don’t worry! my right hand saved the cabinet but It ballooned up last night so I couldn’t really work today. Couldn’t hold a beer in that hand! So I set out re arranging a bit.

Thanks for the reminder about grizzly’s shop layout tool. I used it when I was initially setting up my shop but forgot all about it. Spent a few hours in the morning playing with it and got some good results.

Also thanks for the picture, My jointer is in the table saw cluster now like what you have in the picture. Freed up a half a wall and utilized far less flex hose and is closer to the dc now.

All in all I moved the table saw and bench cluster a little more than 2 feet over to my mitre station to create a smaller walkway. The router is on that side of the TS so everything that gets done in that smaller walkway now is all lengthwise to it. This really opened up quite a bit of room behind the TS and to the left of it.

Might not look like it in the pictures but I can comfortably walk around everything now.


Thank again! Any other tips and tricks you small shop guys have learned over the years is definitely welcomed.


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