Help rearranging my shop

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by Hoakie posted 01-16-2011 02:32 AM 3528 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Hoakie's profile


307 posts in 5092 days

01-16-2011 02:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workshop planning layout question

I am about to start the process of building the 21st Century workbench and while in the planning phase, I have also been thinking a lot about my shop and how it is set up. You can see its current state in my workshop pics and here is a Sketchup model that pretty accurately shows the placement of major tools (I don’t have all the cabinets, etc. depicted). Each square on the floor is 1ft.

One of my biggest gripes right now is that I always feel like I’m clearing off my workbench to use my TS. I want to eliminate this problem. Second is that I feel cramped working at the workbench, and it is inconvenient to squeeze around the right side of the bench due to the structural pole. Therefore I seemed to have to walk around the bench/table saw island to get what I needed or to use the BS and Router table and DP.

Below is my proposed change.

This layout would give me plenty of room around 90 percent of the bench. Most of the big tools are close together and accessible for “turn around” use. I think this would eliminate a lot of trips “around” the bench. My RAS and router table can easily be made the same height so I would still have good in feed support for both. What I would lose is the built in router table on the right wing of the TS (but I don’t use it much since I built my other table). I would also lose a workbench, but I typically just placed tools that were in use on it, or I would stack stuff on it to clear the workbench so I could use the TS. Then it became a pain to clear off when I needed to use the RAS. Essentially it was a vicious cycle. The red tool chest mainly holds traditional tools, wrenches, screw drivers, pliers, hammers, etc. It may be a pain to have to walk all the way across the shop for those, but I figure if I find that I really need to have those items close at hand, I can buy another set to store locally at any given station. I will probably build a hand tool cabinet (free standing or hung) to place close by the workbench. This would most likely go where the belt sander is placed. This way I would have easy access to chisels, planes, hand saws, etc. All the major equipment (except lathe, jointer and workbench) are on wheels so I can move them out and adjust as needed.

Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

Thanks for your opinions.

P.S. I know that I should have my DC closer to my heavy chip makers but it really does a good job (no clogging) in its current set up. Another reason I don’t want to move it is that it straddles my sump hole nicely and is a poorly lit corner due to the floor support beam.

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

12 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3906 days

#1 posted 01-16-2011 03:47 AM

Good planning work. What kinds (sizes) of things do you build? What kind of lumber storage would you need?

Since all it would take is time, I’m going to suggest something offbeat.

A lot of the tools around the periphery would like some space both sides. Like RAS, drill press.

The lathe is a stand alone tool—esp. if it’s on wheels and it’s not a part of your regular kind of project. Could it sleep in furnace room?

And could a bunch of those tools that use DC and need clearance around them be in a cluster back to back in the center?

Could you work at the workbench if it were against a wall?

I don’t want to cause you a lot of time here, but I think your space is confined enough and your tool array is large enough that trying some more things on paper would be healthy.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Hoakie's profile


307 posts in 5092 days

#2 posted 01-16-2011 04:53 AM


Thanks for the feedback. I usually make smaller things boxes and crafty type things. I do make some smaller furniture and shop cabinets, but I don’t see myself doing too much. I typically don’t work with lumber or sheet goods > 5-6 feet. If I buy anything bigger than that I tend to break it down at the RAS or if it is sheet goods, I’ll use my circular saw to get it to more manageable pieces.

With the exception of the DP, I think there will be enough room to operate the tools with enough clearance for 90% of the things I do. The RAS and Router table will be the same height so I think those two will have approximately 8 feet of space on the “infeed” sides. I think you are right about the DP, I may move that to where the planer is and make the planer more of a take out as needed tool. I like having most of my tools and if possible, I’d prefer not have to lug them out to use them. My jointer is in a location where I can feed pretty long stock since I have it inline with the door.

Up until now, I haven’t given much consideration to moving tools to the center and back to back. I guess I have always thought that it would make it harder to move longer pieces and sheet stock around the shop. I’ll have to look around and see if I can find some good examples of this. I have also thought about putting my workbench against a wall, but after having access to only one side for a long time, I sometimes find myself wishing I could use both sides. Again, I’ll do some more shop snooping to see if I can find get a better idea on how this may work for me.

I forgot to mention that the “furnace room” really isn’t a room but a small passage way to a different section of the basement that we use for storage. I also have room to store my lumber in this area so all the space in the diagrams can be dedicated to tools, storage and fixtures.

Thanks for you input, you’ve stirred some more thoughts and that is always a good thing. And you are right, it is a lot easier to go through this exercise on paper than for real.

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3906 days

#3 posted 01-16-2011 06:33 AM

I love the Edison quote, John. I have a shirt with that on it. Long story, some other time.

Taunton published a book some time ago called “Small Shops.” I couldn’t find it, but I found this And this may be an upgrade of that early book.

The extent of your planning suggests you’ve been down the research road.

I like my work bench against the wall, not very deep, power tools below, and then an assembly table parallel and about 32” away from it. I can get to things on the wall behind the bench, it is the right height for sharpening and some planing, but most of the work is done on the larger, lower table (that has tools and materials stored below). And, like you, my hand tools are in a drawer-type cabinet a little ways away.

The really good news here is that you’re not really stuck with anything, provided there is ample power around the periphery (and even that is easily added to). So I think you’ll know when you’re ready to start serious scootage and you’ll get it there and use it a while and then execute minor tweakage.

It looks like a fun place to while some time away.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 4779 days

#4 posted 01-16-2011 06:46 AM

Looking at the proposed change looks workable, but the table saw looks really close to the wall. It might just be that it is a drawing, but here is something to consider: will the placement allow easy cutting of large panels? Not sure what kind of woodwrking you do, so it might be enough as it is.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View FloridaArt's profile


878 posts in 4354 days

#5 posted 01-16-2011 03:35 PM

Moving the table saw to your proposed spot seems logical to me. I have my table saw’s right side up against the wall also. 99.9-percent of my cutting requires space on the left side of my blade anyway. The other nice feature of your proposed layout is that you can rip 8-footers through your table saw without bumping up again walls. That can be very handy, depending on your projects. Is your band saw on wheels? You might need to move it out of the way a little for long ripping operations.

Also, nice work with Sketch-Up. I need to learn that.

-- Art | Bradenton, Florida

View levan's profile


472 posts in 4035 days

#6 posted 01-16-2011 04:36 PM

Nice looking shop John. It looks like you have done alot of thoughtful planing. Just a couple of things you might want to consider. I like to keep my cut off bin close to where they are generated, mostly at the arm saw and my tool chest close to my bench. Most important have fun, be safe.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View hairy's profile


3267 posts in 4588 days

#7 posted 01-16-2011 05:37 PM

I also have a pole in my basement shop. I used it to my advantage. I did run a new 20 amp circuit to it.

-- You can lead a horse to water, but you can't tie his shoes. Blaze Foley

View Hoakie's profile


307 posts in 5092 days

#8 posted 01-16-2011 05:49 PM

Thanks guys


Thanks for the links i’ll poke around to see what I can find.


The TS is pushed all the way up against the wall on the right side. The thought is that this essentially defines my rip capacity on that side since the rails are only so long, the fence can only move over that far anyway. Very similar to the logic of having the side of the band saw with the post side against the wall, I can’t cut anything that sticks out past the post anyway. If I do panel ripping I would probably put it on the workbench, which now would have plenty of space around it for additional support, and break it down with a circular saw.


The bandsaw is on wheel and could be moved out for longer rips. if needed. I think I’ve sold myself on Lee’s suggestion that the Drill Press needs more space around it. I think I will move it to the wall where I have the planer shown and move the OSS and Disc Belt Sanders in that corner. Again, both are on wheels so if I need to move them out, that should not be a big issue. The final resting spot for the planer may be a matter of trial and error. I’d like to leave it out and connected to the DC but I might need to get over that.

Thanks again for looking

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4390 days

#9 posted 01-16-2011 11:29 PM

It looks good John, but if you have wheels on most of your major tools it is always easy enough to make changes according to your needs. I don’t think a hobby woodwoker should make any arrangement in the shop permanent or semi-permanent, because their needs will most likely change with time. With that in muind, flexibility is more important than a given arrangement.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View artthruwood's profile


28 posts in 3818 days

#10 posted 01-17-2011 05:38 AM

French cleated shelves always work good in open wall spaces

-- slowing down with bring you greater speed then going fast

View Sailor's profile


544 posts in 4321 days

#11 posted 01-17-2011 05:47 AM

One thing I like to do to keep screw drivers, pliers, chisels, metal rulers and square close to the bench is to mount a few magnetic tool holing strips. They can be screwed to anything and I don’t know what I would do without mine, they are so simple but so effective.

-- Dothan, Alabama Check out my woodworking blog! Also my Youtube Channel's Facebook page

View Hoakie's profile


307 posts in 5092 days

#12 posted 01-17-2011 05:19 PM

Alright. I started the move yesterday and got most of the big pieces moved. I haven’t disassembled the other workbench yet but I have enough done to get a pretty good feel for what it is going to be like. Right now I think it is going to work pretty well. I will need to move some of the cabinets, lathe tools and dust collection but I may wait and try to do a small project just to see how the flow goes before committing to it. If all goes well I hope to be done next weekend. What I have found is that I seem to have more accessible wall space for storage in this arrangement. That will be a good thing.

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics