Tips for Building Your Dream Shop

The perfect shop setup is something we all want. While hard to define what the “perfect” shop is, it would at least have plenty of space. Lots of lighting. Be comfortable. Outfitted with the right tools. (Unfortunately, that state of nirvana still eludes me and my shop.) I have always enjoyed touring other woodworkers’ shops. Additionally, I have read a lot of books and scoured countless websites that give pointers about the ideals of a woodshop. What follows is a list of tips for building a dream woodshop.

Someday, when I have room in my yard to build a shop, I’ll be able to incorporate all of these.

  • Paint the floor and walls white to increase illumination.
  • Keep tools that can only be used from one side (such as planers, routers, grinders, etc.) near the walls so as to maximize space.
  • If mass building projects, keep the jigs in a separate box/bucket that can be wheeled around for easy and orderly access.
  • Have 10+ foot ceilings to handle longer lumber easier.
  • Strive to have 8 feet of access space around a table saw.
  • Have lots and lots of lighting. Windows are good too for ventilation and light (though they take up valuable wall space).
  • Put the tools on wheels.
  • Keep the entry way open so as to be able to bring wood (plywood, other long boards) in.
  • If you don’t have a garage door, the main door should be a lot wider than normal to enable finished projects easy access.
  • Ensure that you have plenty of lumber storage areas.
  • Buy a dehumidifier to reduce rust and mold. Might not need here in the West, though.
  • Make all your roll around cabinets are the same height as you table saw outfeed. This way you can cut stock, slide it onto a table and roll it to another workstation (which, ideally, is also at the table saw outfeed height). This minimizes lifting and allows you to swap out tables interchangeably.
  • A bookcase is also advisable for the manuals etc. that you will accumulate.
  • The optimum layout would be a U shape where everything is accessible from a single swivel chair.
  • Have first aid and fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Build a dedicated finish compartment.
  • Have a phone in the shop–a phone saved Jerry’s life. If he hadn’t called, he would have died from blood loss. Thankfully the paramedics found him in time (though unconscious).

~ by Clearwater Hackle on December 16, 2004.

One Response to “Tips for Building Your Dream Shop”

  1. i’m drooling. yoiu think you don’t have much space, imagine trying to build a shop at my place!

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