Woodworking Shop Layout for the Small Shop

brian forbes westfarthing woodworks author biography about me experience

Just because you have a small woodworking shop layout, doesn’t mean you will not be able to produce great looking projects. Bob Vila could build a spiral staircase in a shop the size of an outhouse, so it does not matter what kind of space you have.

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Stick around and I’ll show you why. Enjoy.

Small Workshop Layout Ideas and Tips

woodworking shop layout for the small shop

There are a few things that you can do in order to maximize the area you have for small shop woodworking.

If you get a little creative, you will be surprised at what you can turn out of a smaller woodworking space.

Having worked in the front half of a one car garage for several years, I know a thing or two about saving space.

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I was turning out great acoustic and electric guitars from a space that was about 100 square feet. At that time, the other side of the garage was full of storage items that were being kept.

I literally had a space that would not even pass for a master bathroom in some houses as my workshop.

Keys For Successful Small Woodworking Shop Layout:

  • Buy bench top model tools whenever possible.
  • Put all large tools on mobile bases.
  • Build a modest workbench, no mega benches.
  • Incorporate your wood storage into a shelf on your bench.
  • Create storage areas inside and under fixtures to maximize space.
  • Use pegboard instead of large tool boxes to store tools.

See Also: 29 Ways to Maximize Your Woodworking Shop Layout

Buy Bench Top Tools and Use Mobile Bases

woodworking shop layout for the small shopOne way to conserve space in a small woodworking whop is to buy bench top size tools. We all love big tools, but in a small shop they can eat up your space quickly.

Especially if you are making smaller to mid size projects, you really do not need huge tools. Plus, bench top size tools are typically less expensive.

Also, if you have larger tools, put them all on mobile bases. I talked about how to make an inexpensive and sturdy mobile base before, and they give you the freedom to move your tools out of the shop when you are working.

When you enter the shop, you can wheel your larger tools out of the way, and it will make the area feel bigger than it really is.

See Also: 16 Great Tips for Setting Up a Workshop in the Garage

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Build a Smaller Bench

woodworking shop layout for the small shopBuild a modest workbench. While everyone loves to have a gigantic bench, a small shop doesn’t need that. Build a small bench, and your small woodworking space will not get much smaller.

This was one of my first benches. It’s about four feet wide, and two feet deep. Anything deeper than two feet becomes hard to reach over, and can cause back pain.

Also, anything wider than four feet in a small space can be too large. Even in my new space, I work on a six foot wide bench, and still tend to stay in the middle three to four feet. The rest just holds all of my tools until I need them.

Also, if you design your wood storage to fit inside the bottom shelves of your bench, you will keep it in reach, and minimize the stock you keep. If you build a gigantic storage space for your wood, you will end up filling it.

Build a couple shelves on your bench, and your small shop wood storage will be plenty for working, but not so much that you waste space. You can keep plenty of wood in your woodworking shop by just storing it under your bench.

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See Also: 12 Tips for the Best Garage Lighting Layout

Get Creative With Your Storage

woodworking shop layout for the small shopNext, creating storage areas under risers and fixtures in the small shop can help make use of a dead section under tools. 

I used to have carpeted risers around the shop that held up my tools. They were being thrown away at a place I used to work, so I brought several of them home.

Since the bottom of the riser was dead space, I decided to cut them open and use that area for jig storage. I was able to get a few guitar molds, some jigs, and some bulky MDF under the risers. This gave me free storage.

There are ways to maximize storage like this in any shop, you just have to get creative. Look for ways to get your tools and materials into cubbyholes or under benches, and you will maximize your space.

See Also: 9 Great Tips for Storing Wood Clamps

Use The Walls to Your Advantage

woodworking shop layout for the small shopThe biggest secret to keeping your floor space in a small woodworking shop is to use the walls to their full potential. Wall space is free space.

The walls are a gigantic untapped resource in the small shop. You can get dozens of tools onto the wall easily, and they take up zero floor space.

Purchase a couple sheets of peg board, and cover the exposed walls with them. Then, start hanging tools, templates, and anything else you can get on there. You can literally hang the contents of a couple rolling tool boxes on the walls.

It will cost you zero floor space to do it, and it’s easy. Peg board is not expensive, and installation is quick.

See Also: 7 Tips for Using a Portable Air Conditioner for the Garage

Small Woodshop Tips and Tricks

It really doesn’t matter the size of your shop, and here are several more reasons that you can do a lot with a little:

  • Spend some time looking online for more good ideas about working in a small shop. They are everywhere, because lots of woodworkers are in smaller areas. 
  • Ditch the big dust collection and go with a portable shop vacuum instead. You can save that valuable wall space for peg board instead of vacuum tubes.
  • Watch the size of your power tools, router tables, radial arm saws, and even table saws can be purchased in smaller benchtop models to save space.
  • Store sheet goods and bigger lumber vertically, and out of the way.
  • Look for hidden tool storage areas like under benches and in cabinets.

I have since moved into a larger shop than you see in these pictures. However, it is still fairly small by most standards. My time in the tiny shop gave me the tools I needed to make sure I maximized my space in the new shop.

Now, it feels like a gigantic space, because I carried over these same techniques into the larger space.

If you have any questions on Woodworking Shop Layout for the Small Shop, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.

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