Small workshop (packs a big punch)

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Project by ADHDan posted 03-03-2014 03:58 PM 5599 views 1 time favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally got my workshop set up more or less the way I want it, semi-permanently. My shop is in a small (11’ x 17’) room in the lower level of my split-entry house. To make the best use of space, I’ve got it set up as follows:

-Workbench/storage cabinet on Rockler pop-down casters. Over the workbench I have pegboard for hand tools, and a shelf with cubby storage for holding sanders, jigsaw, oscillating tool, and biscuit joiner. The shelf and the pegboard are hung with French cleats for easy reconfiguration.

-Harbor Freight dust collector with homemade separator on a rolling cart. The dust line runs down the ceiling to a wye-split, which runs one line to the table saw and planer and another line to all my other benchtop tools (miter saw, oscillating sander, drill press, router table).

-R4512 table saw on a homemade rolling cabinet that also holds my DW734 planer. The stand has storage for blades, jigs, push sticks, and other table saw accessories.

-Three rolling tool carts along the back wall. One is a flip-top cart for my miter saw and bench grinder. Another holds my router table on the top and my air compressor underneath. The third has a lazy susan for my oscillating sander, drill press, and metal vise, with storage for short cut-offs underneath.

-Long lumber storage along the wall opposite the workbench. I used the Rubbermaid shelf system from Home Depot; it’s strong and customizable.

-Plywood storage to the right (looking into the shop) of the three tool carts; additional cutoff/plywood storage in a rolling cart to the left of the three tool carts.

-Short bar and spring clamps over the workbench; a decent collection of long clamps (bar and pipe) at the top of the back wall, over the tool carts.

-Three upper cabinets – one in the back left corner over the tool carts, one along the long wall to the right of the tool carts, and one on the wall adjacent to the lumber rack, next to the entry door. These hold c-clamps and vise grips, additional power tools and hand tools, and hardware and dust collection accessories (respectively).

-Rolling cabinet/assembly cart with storage drawers. This cabinet is the same height as the table saw, and my workbench is just a bit lower, so both of them can be used for outfeed support.

-Rolling cart holds my shop-vac with a Rockler vortex separator in an upper compartment. Just under a cabinet, next to the lumber rack.

-Hooks all over the ceiling for hanging jigs and DC/shop-vac hoses.

-There’s a long metal duct that runs through the shop; I made the most of it by gluing magnets to often-used tools and sticking them to the duct for quick access. I also put magnets on clips and use them to hang plans, so I can see them at-a-glance from anywhere in the shop.

I think that covers everything, but if I think of anything I omitted I’ll post more.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

17 comments so far

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4198 days

#1 posted 03-03-2014 04:37 PM

I’m a fan of small, personal workshops. Mine is only a bit larger than yours, being a bit over half of a two car garage. If one is not moving a lot of long lumber or full sheets of goods, the large spaces so often advocated are both unnecessary, and impersonal. I like your shop. It’s personal, and it has character.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View ADHDan's profile


802 posts in 3353 days

#2 posted 03-03-2014 04:45 PM

Thanks Roger! It’ll have even more personal character once I get some wall space cleared to hang my Iron Maiden and punk rock posters. Strangely, my wife doesn’t want them anywhere else in the house.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View clieb91's profile


4264 posts in 5179 days

#3 posted 03-03-2014 04:49 PM

Dan the shop looks good always fun to see another’s ideas on how the shop is set up . Great use of the small space. I like th eidea of utilizing the duct work with magnets. I have a ton of duct work running through my shop and might have to think of a few ways to utilize it.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4198 days

#4 posted 03-03-2014 04:59 PM

Wives are notional. The best stuff always finds itself in the shop. That’s why we like it there. LOL

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View clarkey's profile


468 posts in 4301 days

#5 posted 03-03-2014 05:37 PM

Cool Man Cave

View Andre's profile


4741 posts in 3050 days

#6 posted 03-03-2014 05:47 PM

Looks like you have some fine wood to work with, wish I could get my workshop completed!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Bobsboxes's profile


1673 posts in 3908 days

#7 posted 03-03-2014 06:11 PM

Looks like you have made the best use of space, great ideas for other people trying to build a shop. Really cool ideas.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View ADHDan's profile


802 posts in 3353 days

#8 posted 03-03-2014 07:07 PM

Thanks all!

I picked up almost all of that wood from an extremely nice older gentleman who brought it with him to Minneapolis from Denver. He got it for a steal at an estate sale, and sold me the entire pile – plus three more gigantic boards out in the garage – for $120. I’m guessing he figured he wouldn’t be using it much as he was getting older, and wanted to pay it forward by selling it cheaply to someone who could use it. It’s mostly cherry, with some oak, walnut and maple. I can’t wait to do something with it.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View fivecodys's profile


1761 posts in 2881 days

#9 posted 03-03-2014 09:24 PM

I too have a small shop. It’s part garage, part laundry room, and part shop.
Everything but the washer & dryer can be moved. (I’m still working on that one) :)
Nice score on the wood. Look forward to seeing what you do with it.


-- A bad day woodworking is still better than a good day working.

View cyclops4069's profile


66 posts in 2822 days

#10 posted 03-03-2014 09:53 PM

its a great space you have there….and good score on the timber….

-- regards, cyclops4069

View Jeffups's profile


77 posts in 3086 days

#11 posted 03-04-2014 04:14 AM

Great small shop. But I truly believe no shop will ever be complete, because we keep adding and rearranging. Looks great for now.

-- I have to remember this is a hobby..

View stillhaveboththumbs's profile


33 posts in 3668 days

#12 posted 03-04-2014 04:23 AM

Nice job and I thought I was cramped.

-- But I did measure it twice and cut it three time and it still is to short!

View hoss12992's profile


4180 posts in 3137 days

#13 posted 03-04-2014 02:34 PM

Really nice shop.

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4111 days

#14 posted 03-04-2014 03:12 PM

It looks like a great work space and I’ll bet that you really enjoy your work in there.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View ADHDan's profile


802 posts in 3353 days

#15 posted 03-04-2014 06:32 PM

Thanks again, all!

Jeffups – You are absolutely right, and that’s one of the things I focused on in rearranging my workshop. For the past six months I’d make little notes to myself about things that were inconvenient or bothersome, but made sense from a “top down” planning approach – and then I fixed them, viewing the shop as an evolutionary process.

One example: at first, it made “top down” planning sense to have all of my clamps organized together on the back wall, because that groups them by category in the least obtrusive area. Over time, I realized that this layout worked fine for my long clamps, which I typically only needed for specific tasks and specific stages of a project. On the other hand, it was a major hassle walking to the back of the shop just to grab a couple spring clamps or 12” quick-release clamps for as-needed jobs. So I moved those clamps to a joist directly above the workbench.

Another example: I used to have all of my power tools in the big cabinet at the back-right of the shop. It made sense initially to have all of my hand-held power tools in a single space, but over time I learned what tools I used the most (e.g., sanders) and what tools I used the least (e.g., circular saws). So I built a shelf over my workbench specifically to hold my key go-to tools – sanders, jigsaw, oscillator, and biscuit joiner. Now, I may even get rid of that back cabinet (since it’s only half-full) and look for a better way to use that space.

For setting up a small shop, I think it’s key to observe your natural workflow/process and let that dictate the shop layout, rather than trying to set up a shop layout that makes sense “on paper” but clashes with your practice.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

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