Time to make some changes to the shop. #6: My ever shrinking shop.... Or maybe I have wasted space LOL

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Blog entry by AngieO posted 01-22-2014 08:03 PM 2335 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: My newest addition to the shop. Part 6 of Time to make some changes to the shop. series Part 7: New tools are always a nice change to the shop... Hitachi Scroll Saw! »

Ok… So if you know my story… you know that I started out pretty small. Here’s what I had…

These were my first tools.

Aahhhhh…. I remember bringing them home. The ear-to-ear grin on my face was the first of many to come. These poor little guys are long gone now. I got a lot of miles from the miter saw but it finally gave out on me. I actually had a hard time letting it go since it was my first power tool. BUT… the guy I sold it to I gave it to him real cheap and it was exactly what he needed. He had the same saw and he needed it for parts. He did not want to let go of his and fixing it was easy using mine. Glad it worked out.
The sander… it was on it’s last leg when I got it. No attachment there at all. lol

And… my first “shop” space….

I scavenged several factories and businesses for these pallets. Too much time on Pinterest drove me to it. LOL. BUT… I don’t regret it at all. Using my miter saw, sander and reclaimed pallets to start my journey made me think outside the box to get things done

And you’ll notice that one of the pallets says “DO IT” on it. This was there when i found it. And as me and my step-daughter Bailey stacked these to make my bench… when we saw that we placed it there so I could see it every time I worked at that bench. It was a reminder that I could make my dream of a shop come true… i had to just DO IT!

Then, almost a year ago (February to be exact) I moved into my garage. At the time it was doing nothing more than store my ex-husbands belongings. I started by moving all his things to a side and I used 1/4 of the place. I was THRILLED! Which is what sparked my thoughts for the day. A year ago I had a pallet work bench. I moved into a 1/4 of the garage and thought it was incredible. Now I have a full shop (Including a full size floor drill press – insert ear-to-ear grin here)... and I STILL feel like I need more room. My shop is always feeling like it’s shrinking.

It’s pretty simple… here’s a HUGE part of the issue.

Check out this pic… It’s a pic I pulled from my phone, or I would have taken a better pic of that back wall. It’s where I have the most wasted space.
See the cabinets in the back? You’d think that they would come in handy. But really they are wasted space. I need to maximize the use of them and I’m really not sure where to start.
Also… look above the cabinets. This is more wasted space. I could use it for something I’m sure.
That big white thing… my freezer. I wish I had room for it in the house. But this is where it’s gotta be for now. But to the right of it… junk corner. This junk also blocks that cabinet above it which is practically empty.
And again…. where the workmate is sitting… all that is wasted space as well.

Here’s more wasted space. More cabinets that are not being utilized to their fullest. That built in bench… UGH!!!! Gotta get rid of that. That space where the workmate is… wasted space.

So… while my shop is not really big… it’s big enough. It’s shrinking because I keep acquiring more tools (and wood) I just need to maximize the space. I’m open to any suggestions on use of the cabinets and that entire wall. I definitely feel the need to empty the space and start over… but that won’t happen till we get some warm weather. So for now I need to just do what I can.

Looking forward to your ideas and suggestions. For now… since there will be no shop time today… I’m off to check out some other workshops to get some ideas.

18 comments so far

View hoss12992's profile


4151 posts in 2400 days

#1 posted 01-22-2014 08:39 PM

You have came a long way, no doubt. Im a huge fan of looking at other’s shop pics and try to pick out some ideas that I can incorporate into my shop. Im not a fan of cabinets for the most part, and for me, shelves seem to be more practicable. Look forward to seeing the changes you make for YOUR shop to work for YOU!

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View gwolfe1977's profile


228 posts in 2318 days

#2 posted 01-22-2014 08:40 PM

I would start at the partially removed workbench. Finish the removal and then rebuild. I would add as much storage space as possible underneath, whether it be cabinet style or just shelves and then move to the next area. Just my thoughts on the issue. Good luck

-- Gary,Nebraska

View Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop's profile

Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop

646 posts in 3198 days

#3 posted 01-22-2014 08:49 PM

Well most peoples issue with overhead cabinets is if the can’t see the tools then they don’t get used. So they lay them around where they can see them, thus clutter begins. If you think that may be some of your issuethen i suggest removing the doors. That way all can be seen and therefore utilized. One thing you might consider if removing the doors isn’t the answer, then hang peg board on each door outside or inside to make hanging room for insignificant tools that clutter up horizontal space. I will have a freezer in min and I plan on turning it 90 degrees and hanging a pegboard space to take care of what would normally be wasted space. Your lower cabinets can be retrofitted with drawers behind the doors for ease of access to everything that would normally be tucked away in the back.

I see that you have two workmates and if you don’t use one then sell it and keep one. They do come in handy. Since they fold they can store hanging or under something. This way you can take that lumber rack to the floor which would increase storage for your lumber. A French cleat system on the wall really works well for modular storage that can move anywhere you want. My outlook is always look for wasted space then find the best solution to maximize its potential. Think outside the norm and you will be surprised what you can think up.


-- Drew -- "I cut it twice and it's still too short!"- Rock-n H Woodshop - Moore, OK

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2654 days

#4 posted 01-22-2014 09:28 PM

Gary…. That is definitely where I need to start. But… I do have to figure out what will go there in it’s place and find a place to store the things that’s there until new is built.

Drew… Hadn’t thought about putting in drawers on the lower cabinets. That is a great idea. Definitely going to do that.

I guess I’ve been trying to make the best of the cabinets that I have. Ultimately… I wonder if I should consider taking them out and building my own. The cabinets are from one of my ex’s grandpas houses he gutted. They were handy for his use and I’ve just been using them…. because they are there.

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2654 days

#5 posted 01-22-2014 09:36 PM

Oh… lets not forget that I have a tendency to “acquire” things. The day before yesterday a friend let me know she had some “good wood” that she wanted to know if i wanted. I came home with a truckload of “stuff”. One being an old tv that I plan to upcycle. It’s one of those console types. I plan on removing the tube and making it into something that I will either sell… or make it into a shop stand. I could put wheels on it, shelves where the tube is now… i got a couple of ideas.
So i also came home with quite a few sheets of some sort of laminate material. Will be great for backing for the frames I’m about to build and they make great pieces for the “bunky board” for the doll beds that I make.
Came home with a few 1×10 cut offs and some 1/4 plywood. To me… I see all sorts of things I will do with these supplies. BUT… storing them…. LOL gotta get a better place for them.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2514 days

#6 posted 01-22-2014 09:54 PM

You might be able to re-use all the cabinets.
Years ago I used a bunch of old kitchen cabinets by stacking them together and making a “cabinet wall”. Worked good for storing all the little stuff like boxes of screws and nails, or small hand tools. Some of the cabinets only had “half-depth shelves” and I made shelves that were full depth to make more room for “stuff”

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Freakazoid's profile


68 posts in 3286 days

#7 posted 01-22-2014 10:58 PM

Getting my workspace right for me has been very difficult.

In the beginning, it was a bench that went the length of one wall, big crates underneath, a shelf way too high above it, and general “put it where it fits” everywhere else. What ended up happening was stuff came down from the top shelf when I needed it and never put back (way too high), acquiring more stuff, and never getting rid of stuff. The bench became the storage and I was working on the floor again.

What is working for me now is a couple of things: central work space and storage on the walls, top to bottom. It was a complete change for me (and takes getting used to) – I had always worked on surfaces facing the walls, now the walls are at my back.

It is still a work in progress, but I have a table saw setup in the middle with a big (incomplete) work table as outfeed and assembly area. The work table is (will be) filled with big drawers – I picked this up from a FWW Mike Pekovich article where he said square footage is more important that cubic footage. It took me a while to understand that, but having drawers made me understand. The central work area allows me to mount cabinets or store whatever on the walls, top to bottom. I have a couple of big cabinets that are along one wall that hold a lot of frequently used items, so when one is needed, turn around and grab it. It is equally easy to put it back (key for me). I have lumber racks above the cabinets (infrequently accessed), and lesser used items underneath.

I know I make it sound like the shop is done, but I only have one wall complete. However the difference has been huge, can’t wait until the rest is done.

-- I can complicate anything

View revieck's profile


267 posts in 3577 days

#8 posted 01-22-2014 11:37 PM

Angie, Angie, Angie! You have come a long way in this woodworking world! Free wood, friends who will lend or give you tools, because you’ll put them to good use. You deserve it girl!... And take those friends up on the wood lathe lessons!

-- Don't be at the airport when your ship comes in!

View ksSlim's profile


1302 posts in 3397 days

#9 posted 01-23-2014 01:15 AM

Use the vertical space tht’s available for horizonical storage of longer stock.
sheet goods on a moveable (wheels) but upright storage cutoffs in a sortable/graduated container.

Lots of ideas here on LJs.

I’ve tried for 50 years, and the space keeps getting smaller after 2 enlargements.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3311 days

#10 posted 01-23-2014 01:52 AM

You are movin on up. Keep pressing forward, safely of course.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View doubleDD's profile


8650 posts in 2550 days

#11 posted 01-23-2014 02:16 AM

You need to have easy access to hand tools and small power tools. If not, you end up doing things differently than the way you should. Thus a accident to happen. I try to use my cabinets for things like paint and finishes, misc. stuff. I had cabinets above the workbench but interfered when building certain projects. So I made shallow cabinets to hang in the back of the bench. That way I still have an open area with easy reach to things I use a lot. All in all, its a never ending battle unless you have a mansion. Good luck Angie.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3393 posts in 4219 days

#12 posted 01-23-2014 07:52 AM


Our shop has been a work in progress for years now, but one thing I’ve learned: I hate open shelves. It seems like all we create is sawdust and even though we have a good dust collection system, there is always sawdust on EVERYTHING in the open. I like drawers. The lab cabinets that I recycled had doors so I put slide-out trays in all of them. It makes it much easier to find things. I’d never go back to open shelves. I don’t want open shelves in my kitchen (everything gets greasy even with a rangehood), and I don’t want open shelves in the shop to collect sawdust. Just my two cents worth. (Except for my sink cabinets, every base cabinet in my kitchen is a drawer cabinet.)

Keep up the good progress!


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3020 days

#13 posted 01-23-2014 03:52 PM

Angie I’m in the same boat, and am just making adjustments as I go along, I’m limited on space as well. I’m not sure if this is feasible but in one corner of my shop I made a holding shelving system for my bench top tools so I pull them off and set them on the bench as needed.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2654 days

#14 posted 01-23-2014 05:08 PM

I have thought about doing one of those shelving units for bench top tools.

I think the biggest difference will be made when I get the built in tore out and build my miter station. And…. organize the junk on the right side of my shop.

View Richard's profile


1927 posts in 3197 days

#15 posted 01-23-2014 06:42 PM

Draw or Sketchup a design you like and then GUT the Whole thing and build it all new. Should only take a day or two. :) Ok maybe more so it might just be better to do it in stages like 1/4 this week then 1/4 every other week or month .
Good Luck with it.

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