Advize me on organizing a shop

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Forum topic by DTOLAR posted 06-15-2016 06:31 AM 1552 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 2304 days

06-15-2016 06:31 AM

I have very little workspace at my house, so I am going to lease some warehouse space for the next 12 months or so, until I buy my next house.

Granted, If I put the lease funds towards the house buying funds, I could buy a place a little faster. But long story short, that isn’t feasible. If I did that, I’d end up with my shop in a storage locker for 6 months, unusable.

The space will be 1250 Sq feet, roughly 30X40, big bay door on the front, high ceiling, not sure exactly, but 12+ feet.

My current plan is to have a T shaped table, along one long wall, and sticking out in the middle, the piece in the middle will be my table saw and main work table, along the wall will be router table, band saw, drill press, etc.

The back wall will be wood storage, I mostly work with large slabs, 24”wide, up to 10 ft long,

In front of the table saw will be open work space.

Current tools”

Standard table saw
12” planer
table top band saw
Table top mortiser/drill press
Table top router table
All the usual hand tools.

Next planned purchase will be a dust collection system

I mostly build dining tables and benches. But also do a lot of cutting boards. I really want to get into building wood strip canoes and bowl turning

What advice can y’all give on layout, tool purchases, things to avoid, etc.

This is not a store front, just a space for me to work and get all my junk out of my garage.

10 replies so far

View Robert's profile


4782 posts in 2762 days

#1 posted 06-15-2016 10:08 AM

Hard to advise on this other than give generalities like keep milling machines (TS, Planer, Jointer, Drum sander, etc.) in close proximity.

You have a lot of room to try different layouts.

Be open to thinking about work flow as you do your projects. What would be better where? etc.
Often times we set up the shop in a sub optimal way and adjust our workflow to it, instead of vice versa.

Having machines on mobile bases means you can tweak it after you start working.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View knotscott's profile


8434 posts in 4657 days

#2 posted 06-15-2016 11:44 AM

Grizzly’s website has a great shop planning app that’s free and easy to use, and has clip art of tools that are to scale. I found it really handy to try different layouts on paper vs physical trial and error.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 2201 days

#3 posted 06-15-2016 12:30 PM


I agree with rwe2156 that tool grouping based on the woodworking process makes for fewer steps when changing machines. I find my space requirements include rough lumber storage (total inventory of lumber), project lumber storage (lumber selected for and being used for a project), an area for milling stock flat and square, a joinery area, an assembly area, a sanding area, and a finishing area. The workbench serves as a general work area. In my case, these are overlapping areas in my 480 sf two car garage.

Although I did not use the Grizzly shop layout tool suggested by knotscott, I did put pencil to paper and drew out several shop lay out options before committing to a final layout. Either way, I think it is beneficial to develop a layout drawing. It can save from having to rearrange heavy and awkward equipment. Besides, I get enough moving stuff around when the wife wants to rearrange the living room.

The potential problem I see with your plan is that your leased warehouse may be too big. I have looked at a lot of homes in the past and I never found a suitable home with a space greater than 600 sf (3 car garage). Sometimes a nice walkout basement can offer maybe 1000 sf, but these are usually finished as living spaces and are home to the furnace and water heater in the center of the basement. I know perfect woodworking homes exist but these homes did not seem to be on the market when I was looking.

Since the leased space is a temporary solution and at some future point the work shop will be relocated to your home, a larger leased workshop could become a problem when moving into the new home. I could foresee acquiring some additional equipment and setting up a very nice work shop in the leased space only to later discover that the home workshop is simply too small to accommodate the equipment from the leased space. If this happens, then either some tools have to go or money spent to enlarge the future home work shop space.

One answer is to lease a smaller space for the temporary workshop, perhaps around 500 sf, or close to the size of the home work shop you envision. This could save a little rent money. However, if not available, confining your tools and your work to only that portion of the 1290 sf warehouse that represents what you think would approximate your future home shop could make the next transition much easier.

A couple of tools you evidently do not now own could be handy to have. These would be a saw for cutting boards to length, real nice if the boards are long. This could be a sliding compound mitre saw or radial arm saw. The other tool is a jointer that makes milling stock flat with square edges easier than doing so by hand. But in both cases, careful consideration of the future home work shop size when making these purchases could avoid the aggravation of too large or too many tools for the future home work shop space.

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1029 posts in 2856 days

#4 posted 06-15-2016 12:40 PM

Think in work triangle,like kitchen designers do. Think of your processes,you bring in your wood though which door,then you unload it,so you will want your lumber rack near the door,then most likely you’ll cut it to a workable size,so saws near by,(saves dragging to across the shop).Then you’ll plane and joint,then assemble and glue,then finish, then store and finally send you want the work to flow from one area to another with out it having to move back in forth though the shop. I.e the work triangle,and work flow. and by the way,a 30×40 shop! you suck! :)

View Kirk650's profile


741 posts in 2030 days

#5 posted 06-15-2016 01:24 PM

The above advice is good. I’ll just add that most of my tools, except for the jointer, are on mobile bases, and I’ve found that to be very helpful. And, make sure that you have enough infeed/out feed room for the largest boards you can imagine milling.

I’d also suggest a floor standing band saw. I had a couple of bench top models, and I was never happy with their power or general performance.

View DTOLAR's profile


28 posts in 2304 days

#6 posted 06-15-2016 02:18 PM

Wow guys, thanks for all the responses, I’ll see if I can answer most things at once

I’ve only had 4 places come open in the last 6 months or so that meet my needs,

one was 1168 sq ft and perfect, tons of lights, tons of outlets, really close to home, but they leased it out from under me.

Now I have 2 that are 1250, one cheaper that I’m second in line for, and one pricier

and a 1000 sq ft shop that’s cheapest, and brand new, but it only has 1 wall plug, I currently have one plug and it sucks. But for just a year, and cost savings, it may be worth putting up with.

I used a free, ~1800 sq ft shop for a bit and got a good idea of what I need, I used about 600 sq feet of it, but had no wood storage or work tables, but regardless 1000 sq ft is the smallest I have found

Some of my tables are 9ft long and 4 ft wide, requiring a fork lift to move, so I do need some space, especially if I plan to start doing 16 ft canoes.

I don’t have a lot of “flow”, its just me, and I turn out things as I can, I make 1 or 2 products a month, I have a full time job, so having a super optimized layout isn’t vital, but I like the idea of tools on casters. I actually planed to have “carts” built for all my tools so that the work deck is the same height, and I can roll them in and out of a slot in the work table to have lots out in feed and out feed room, The majority of my work is with the planer and table saw, most everything else is hand tools.

I do have a compound miter, forgot to mention that one, rarely have I felt the need for a jointer, but I have access to a friends if I want. Maybe I just don’t know what I’m missing. Most of my joint work is book matching slabs, I just use a straight edge and my skill saw, clean it up with a hand plane or power plane, usually gets me to less than 1/32”.

Wood storage is a concern, just a big bay door on the front, and I cant store it there, because I cant be tripping over it walking in and out and I have to get products out, so I was thinking making the whole right wall storage, and work on the left wall? Just imagine rows of sticker stacked slabs, I probably have 40 of them in the 12-24” by 8ft long range.

View DTOLAR's profile


28 posts in 2304 days

#7 posted 06-16-2016 07:26 PM

Looked at a few of the options today,

Option 1 is about $100 cheaper per month, but is literally just sheet metal, 20” X50”, 1 110v outlet, no bathroom, no running water

Option 2 is 25X50, has a small office, and a bathroom, 3 or 4 wall plugs.

The office is big enough that I think it would make a good “clean room” to apply finishes and stuff, one of my issues now is that if I put a fresh coat of poli on something, I can do anything else that would produce saw dust.

View JAAune's profile


2056 posts in 3598 days

#8 posted 06-18-2016 12:20 PM

Setting up a shop for just a few months of use is a lot of work. It took me a full month with the help of another person just to get mine halfway functional. Granted, your setup is much smaller and simpler but if you’re working alone that offsets the advantage.

My recommendation is to focus on a single product line that you want to keep in production and setup a work cell for just that product. It’s much quicker than trying to setup a general purpose shop and it also allows you to be more efficient at doing that one thing.

-- See my work at

View AZWoody's profile


1478 posts in 2505 days

#9 posted 06-18-2016 06:31 PM

and a 1000 sq ft shop that s cheapest, and brand new, but it only has 1 wall plug, I currently have one plug and it sucks. But for just a year, and cost savings, it may be worth putting up with.


You’re able to run your tool, dust collector, charger and any other miscellaneous items on one plug already?
I don’t see how you’d be able to do that safely on a single circuit.

View DTOLAR's profile


28 posts in 2304 days

#10 posted 06-18-2016 09:55 PM

I don’t hat a dust collector for that very reason, it’s the first thing I plan to buy.

My only cordless too is my drill, the charger stays in my spare bedroom, otherwise I use an extension cord and plug in whatever tool I’m using at the time. That’s the other thing, the one plug is 25 ft from where I work, it’s grand….

But yeah, the one plug shop isnout, the one I’m getting has 3 or 4 in the shop, and a small office with several more

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