home design software

Fitting a Big Workshop in a Small Space


(ARA) – A personal workshop is the do-it-yourselfer’s sanctuary – a perfect place to relax, escape the daily grind, and hammer out home improvements. And while bigger may be better, many homeowners don’t have the space, or the budget, for a sprawling stand-alone shop.

There’s no need to worry because with a little creativity and the right equipment, you can turn a small space into a shop with huge potential.

Here are some tips for making it happen:

1. Lay it out
Before you start placing tools, draw up different design options. An overhead view provides a nice perspective to spot space-saving opportunities. Sketching also forces you to think through the entire shop, giving you a better idea of what you want and what is realistic.


2. Think mobile and modular
A shop does not have to look the same in operation as it does in hibernation. Instead of bulky permanent setups, make it easy to arrange workstations when and where you need them.

Add mobile bases to bigger tools and keep them tucked against the wall until they’re needed. Swap your traditional workbench for a space-saving folding model (Rockler Woodworking and Hardware makes a robust full-sized bench that mounts to a wall and collapses to a depth of just 10 inches). Store smaller power tools like grinders and bench-top sanders in cabinets or nearby shelving. You can fit a full-service shop and an SUV in the same garage stall; it just takes a little planning and some flexibility.

3. Don’t over-tool
If your shop can’t hold all the tools you want, focus on the ones you need. That list depends on the kinds of projects you’ll be making, so plan accordingly. Think about multitasking tools to save space. With a straight bit in the router and an offset fence, for example, a router table can replace a jointer for putting clean edges on boards. Tool-size is another important factor. Consider bench-top drill presses, router tables and sanders as opposed to large, stand-alone units. Depending on the size of your projects, they may be all you’ll need.

4. Give dust due diligence
Without proper dust collection and ventilation, a small shop will be uncomfortable at best, dangerous at worst. Unchecked dust is especially troublesome in basement shops where it wreaks havoc on home heating systems. The advice here is simple: take the time to learn about dust control and invest in a proper system. Head to a specialty woodworking store and describe your shop to a sales associate. They will point you in the right direction.

5. Store smart, store more
Finding creative ways to store tools and supplies will really stretch your space. If your router table (or any large tool) rests on four open legs, build or buy a cabinet-style base and voila – you’ve got a place for bits and hand-tools without adding bulk. Organize clamps with a two-sided A-frame clamp rack; you can store clamps on the outside and use the interior space for catch-all shelves. Get the most from your wall space by mounting pegboard and hanging as many tools as you can. Simple, sure, but that’s the idea.

Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, a leading woodworking retailer, has devoted a section of its Web site to innovative products that make the most of small spaces. For more ideas on fitting a big shop in a small space, visit www.rockler.com/savespace.

Courtesy of ARA Content