Shop Organization #1: Shop Setup

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Blog entry by SteveKorz posted 07-14-2008 05:55 AM 2347 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shop Organization series Part 2: Wall Slat Organizers »

I’ve looked at a lot of workshop profiles on LumberJocks lately. Everyone tends to setup their shop a little different. For those of you that read my Fire Therapy topic in the coffee lounge, you know that I’ve been doing a little housekeeping lately. Since my mass exodus of junk, I have an incredible amount of room in my shop to begin to actually set it up for the first time in my life.

Before I messed around for three or four days hanging shelves and cabinets, I thought I’d ask a few questions to help my thought process along… What are your personal preferences for your shop? Do you like the bandsaw and tablesaw, planer, etc to run parallel with each other? Is there an actual tried and true method for where things should go to make things efficient? Is there one particular feature of your shop that you can’t live without?

My shop space is an entire pole barn, 24×32 with a concrete floor. I’ll see about posting some pics soon, if that would help.

Thanks in advance…


-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

12 comments so far

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4596 days

#1 posted 07-14-2008 06:40 AM

I’m really in favor of my mobile bench. It can accomodate just about any project. Well, I haven’t found a non-accomodating one yet. So I would suggest placing your assembly table out in the middle. If it has casters, then you can roll it out of the way.

Something else to consider is that most of your stock comes in 8’ lengths. So you’ll want to be able to swing a 2×4 and have it accessable to all your saws, etc. In other words: is your miter station too close to the bandsaw, and vise-versa?

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4824 days

#2 posted 07-14-2008 02:15 PM

I’m a big fan of having everything as mobile as possible in my tiny shop, but in a big space like you’ve got to work with, that may not be so important. About the only thing I would worry about is making sure things are arranged so that you have maximum room for infeed/outfeed on your saws.

One other piece of advice based on my experience: Because there is going to be dust no matter what, I recommend cabinets over open shelving whenever possible.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View SteveKorz's profile


2139 posts in 4320 days

#3 posted 07-14-2008 04:36 PM

I’ve been considering the cabinet option a lot more lately. I do not have a dust collector yet (besides my shop vac). I don’t so much mind the saw dust, but the mice are sometimes overwhelming. Living in the country, it’s hard to keep them all out. I’ve got a couple lazy cats, but they don’t do much. So, I’m slowly replacing everything that is open with some cabinets or sealed drawers. About the end of August this year, I’m going to make about 30 sealed containers for the DeCon poison so my dogs can’t get to it, and I’m going to put them all over the barns (I’m pretty tired of mice… lol…)

As far as the mobility goes, the bandsaw that I just bought is the first tool I’ve ever had on a mobile base. I really like being able to easily push it around the shop. I’m trying to finish my miter center now, it’s 120 inches long and it has a 52 inch gap between cabinets. The countertops extend 10 inches on each side past the cabinets to the opening for the miter saw. The miter saw will sit on the top in a recess between the counter tops. This leaves a big void underneath. So, I’m thinking of making a mobile assembly cart with cabinets to fit underneath the miter center. It will store under there or come out and be a mini workbench. I really like the idea of the assembly table, because right now it’s the top of my table saw…

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 4447 days

#4 posted 07-14-2008 05:04 PM

I wish I had the space that you do, someday?
I like to keep the jointer, planer, table saw and band saw near where the lumber racks are withenough room to swing full size sheets of plywood around without hitting anyhing. I am a big fan of mobile tables for moving stock from one machine to the next. And fo a assembly table like what Marc (wood whisperer) made for his shop with lots of built in storage for assembly type supplies. I suppose it also depends on where your power plugs are as well.

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View SteveKorz's profile


2139 posts in 4320 days

#5 posted 07-14-2008 05:23 PM

I just bought some other electrical boxes. I’m going to do some rewiring and hang three outlets with four plug in’s each from my trusses down the length of the barn. I also have outlets every 8 feet or so around the walls. I’m trying to make it where I can put a major power tool in the center and plug it in at the ceiling without having the power cord on the floor to trip on.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10864 posts in 4658 days

#6 posted 07-14-2008 07:47 PM

I think Grizzly has a FREE floor plan program where you can arrange various things & move them around… etc… Has a lot of images to select from and you can make your own, IIRC…

Take a look at their site… It’s easy to get & use…

Glad you have all that room to play with… you must feel like a KING! (I would!)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4380 days

#7 posted 07-14-2008 07:53 PM

Hi Steve

Because my shop is small, I will have everything mobile. I am going to have an assembly table like Marc of Wood Whisper has. The table saw and assembly table should be the same height. That way assembly table can be your front catch table as well. The miter saw and bench drill drill press will be on one mobile unit. The Ridgid edge/belt spindle sander and Grizzly 12” baby drum sander will be a mobile unit. The Router table will be another mobile unit. The band saw, planer/jointer will be mobile.

All tools and supplies should be behind doors or in drawers. Only thing out would be clamps on walls some where. Even if I had a bigger shop, I would still probably have stationary equipment on wheels. I will be posting some pictures soon. The 200amp service is in and the shop is wired. Plenty of light is a must! The 5HP cyclone is here and I am ordering all the duct work the end of the month. Good Luck! Keep us posted

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Josh's profile


119 posts in 4544 days

#8 posted 07-15-2008 12:17 AM

Everything in my shop has been moved to a new spot a few times except for the board rack. If you are setting up a shop I would say you should start with wood storage. I would build twice as much storage as you think you need. Doesn’t take long to fill them up. :>)

View Grumpy's profile


25952 posts in 4457 days

#9 posted 07-15-2008 01:48 AM

Steve, I agree with Josh. Get your storage organised first. Deep storage shelves are often useless unless you have items you don’t need to access very often.
Putting your machines on mobile stands will help a lot when you have those large pieces to manouvre.
Either a mobile switch for your dust extractor or a switch at each connected machine is definitely a plus.
My shed is full of stuff I can’t live without. LOL

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View bbqking's profile


328 posts in 4329 days

#10 posted 07-15-2008 04:10 AM

Hi Korz.

Setting up your shop depends on the way you like to work. If you look at my shop on my homesite, you’ll see that my main 8’x4’ workbench, a glueup table on sawhorses, and my tablesaw are in a line down the center. Jointer, drill press, RAS, bandsaw, and planer are to the sides. I like this because all the parts of my current project are on a flat surface with my machines surrounding them. I can measure and do layout of mortises, etc., then turn around and cut & mill or whatever and return them to a work surface for the next step. I have an 8’x3’ side bench attached to the wall for my mortising machine, small vise for tuning tenons, and other crap. My shop is fairly good sized, 18’x56’, so I have the space I need at this time. I have a separate breaker box for my shop and have 220 installed, although I do not use it yet. My dream would be a big run of face high cabinets w/doors to keep out the dust, but I have to figure out where to put them. Setting up your shop will be a good time.

As always, bbqKing

-- bbqKing, Lawrenceville

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 4377 days

#11 posted 07-16-2008 10:28 PM

Steve, as you mentioned, everyone has their own way of doing it; and will have numerous ideas. The best solution will come to you after you move things around 3 or 4 hundred times. It’s a personal thing. One thing I’ll agree with the others about, is a good general purpose/assembly table. Before TWW did his table, David Marks did one for Woodworks on DIY. I feel Marks gives a better and easier to follow process. Check him out at You can make it is big or small as you like and it will be an asset in a very short time. In addition to an assembly table, unless you want it strewn with tools, get yourself or build a tool cart. It will allow you to move the most used tools around the shop (screwdrivers, pencils, square, cordless, etc…) as well as allowing you to keep it right next to your assembly table with everything where it is supposed to be.


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4360 days

#12 posted 07-16-2008 11:02 PM

I have been working on the build out of my shop for over a year now. You need to think about how you like to work. Then layer power (where tools CAN go), lighting (so you CAN see your fingers), Dust Collection, and then Storage. Other thing to think about are are you going to run lines for your air compressor, Air Cleaner, etc. Hope this helps.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

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