The tiny shop chronicles: #1: Dwindling quarters

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Blog entry by SnowFrog posted 07-20-2011 06:19 AM 1697 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of The tiny shop chronicles: series Part 2: What’s the shop for? »

Hi there! Welcome to the tiny shop chronicles.

I am quite new to this site and have been enjoying it tremendously. It is full of information and experience but mostly a terrific bunch of helpful people.

Anyhow, I have been doing Renos of all kinds for years but it is only in the last 18 months or so that I have truly felt the passion for woodworking. As life can be very ironic, it is while converting our garage (my “former” shop) into our new living room that I fell in love with woodworking, which left me with no shop!

So, I relocated in an 11×13 room in the basement with no windows, which was not bad at all for a kids bedroom or an office which were the previous callings for this room but as a woodworking shop, it is tiny. 18 months ago when I only had portable tools, it seemed sufficient. But now, I have purchase a proper used table saw a Rigid TS3650 and a router table and the jigs are slowly but surely multiplying, the space seems to be dwindling rapidly. Actually, it is this quest for space that has brought me to LumberJocks in the first place. I have been frustrated with magazines and other sites which proudly showcase shops that are larger and in some cases, more comfortable than my house. My wife and I raised four kids in that house with two left at home so every little bit of space is well used. You would think that with Kids growing up they would take less space as their toys are not all over the place but the opposite is what seems to happen. Plus, all my kids are girls, which leave me severely outnumbered in the hormone department and completely outgunned and defenseless verbally. The military never prepared me for this! Those in this situation will know exactly what I am talking about.

Bottom-line, I need my man cave, my woodshop, my last refuge. It is a sanity imperative!

The Quest for Space

My shop is soooo tiny that… Almost sounds like a joke but it is so cramped that I must do something about it because I am afraid that the frustration of being in there lately will drive me out completely. I am sure I am not the only one in this situation and that other share the same frustration, but very few seem to want to speak out. I guess that those with tiny shops like me might be suffering from shop envy or tiny shop complex as I am sure this is a real affliction. So I decided not only to expose myself, so to speak but to try to help those with a similar affliction and get assistance and benefit from the experience of those who once were victim of this debilitating condition. Why a blog and not ask questions in the forums? Well, I will certainly do that also on specific subjects but I wanted also to centralize my experience and chronicle the changes through time. Discuss my choice of priorities, my motivation for the choices I will be making and create one central place to look for those with Tiny Shop Syndrome. A kind of tiny shop support group if you will.

I guess I should set expectation on other matters also. My quest for space is bordered by my quest for Money (4 kids remember!) and a quest for time (I work 12hrs a day). Things that are equally tiny. So this quest will be curbed by practicalities and compromises of all kinds, and although some “would-be” helper may get frustrated by my potential refusal to adopt the obvious solutions, please bear with me. Plus, the more potential and varied solution we provide, the more likely someone will find the one that fits their needs and budgets.

So I enlist all of you, big and small to help those less fortunate ;-)

-- One can dream, about a passion not yet fully fulfilled!

6 comments so far

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3646 days

#1 posted 07-20-2011 03:01 PM

My siblings are older than me, and from what I have seen, children often don’t take their stuff when they move out. I have 3 daughters. When they first head off to college they start boxing up their stuff with the idea that by the time they are done with school all of their stuff is boxed. When they get a “real” job with a “real” appartment, I’m going to deliver their boxes of stuff. Until then it is packed up pretty tightly in an out-of-the-way spot. Part of being an adult is taking care of your own stuff. No free storage at the family homestead!

Given your tight space, budget, and time, I suggest that you specialize into one area of woodworking. That will help narrow the kit that you need and allow you to really optimize the space that you have. Maybe intarsia, scrolling, small boxes, cutting boards, or even wooden gear clocks.

-- Greg D.

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3377 days

#2 posted 07-20-2011 03:10 PM

Snowfrog, I can sympathize with you because I have a small shop as well. I make out my sq ft to be just about 279. However, to get to the back door of my house you come strait through the shop so I have to have a center aisle that is clear for the most part. Also I have slightly bigger equipment than what is average for a small shop. It frustrates me all the time. The biggest improvement that I can make to mine is add a storage shed outside where I can keep lumber , jigs, and hardware. This might be a partial solution for you too. Anyways I wish for the best for you in the continuing improvement of your shop.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View FreddyS's profile


212 posts in 3284 days

#3 posted 07-20-2011 11:56 PM

Hey, there can be only one tiny shop™, and I got here first!
I’m joking of course, but your shop is big… mine is only 10×7 equipped with:

Small table saw
24×24” router table
Bench drill press
6” grinder
Some jigs
And soon a diy lathe when I finish it + the workbench I need to move out of the living room hehee

How I manage to fit all in there? shelves and wall racks, lots of them. If I need to work with big projects the table saw and the router table go a few steps outside to the backyard, otherwise I have like a 5 sq ft to maneuver inside, cozy place :)

-- Learning one thing at a time

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3493 days

#4 posted 07-21-2011 12:16 AM

Welcome to Lumber Jocks Snowfrog. I can certainly relate to some of your frustration to a degree. My last 2 shops were detach garages that contained all my woodworking needs, and have since downsized to a smaller building. Which doesn’t hold everything, but none the less holds the majority of my woodworking items. I can say that careful planning and making the most of your storage situation helps tremendously. My 10×12 shed for my yard tools and some household storage also is now home for my air compressor and lumber and a few other misc. items in order to make the shop more comfortable to work in.

I do like the idea of the tiny shop support group, although this site is good with help and suggestions in overcoming tiny problems.LOL Keep us posted as to your progress and the best to you in your quest for solutions. Looking at your shop one thing I noticed right off that would be of a big big help would be more shelves for storage.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Woodstock's profile


256 posts in 3798 days

#5 posted 08-26-2011 07:56 AM

Oh come on now. I’ve got the smallest shop.

It’s so small I have to go outside to change my mind….


-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

View SnowFrog's profile


102 posts in 3057 days

#6 posted 09-01-2011 11:42 PM

Hey N6DSW;

My shop is so small that if I have an idea, I must clear the shop to fit it in…

-- One can dream, about a passion not yet fully fulfilled!

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