Improving shop efficiency and organization

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Forum topic by DocSavage45 posted 01-15-2018 01:40 AM 2614 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9017 posts in 3694 days

01-15-2018 01:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question refurbishing tip

Hey Lj’s, it’s super freekin cold everywhere. Have been doing maintenance and rebuilding of structures around my property. Do you keep things on bench tops and say ”I’ll get it later.?”

My 2018 goal is to make all those projects that I have thought about creating. I’ve been upgrading shop equipment and acquiring Hardwoods and logs to mill, but right now it all looks like total chaos. The bigger equipment has a bigger footprint in my 12×26 work area of my shop.

I have the equipment on dollies to facilitate use, but each project procedure requires adjusting the tools and adjusting for the next step.

I built benches awhile back before the big tools that are attached to the wall, My first change was repurposing the longest bench into a woodworkers bench on wheels. That was awhile ago. A couple of days ago I disassembled the second bench that was attached to the wall and that will be reporposed into an outfeed table/worktable that I can move around.

Dawned on me that the current layout is totally inefficient for smooth production.

MY BIG IDEA!: Grizzy use to have a shop layout planner for organizing your shop. I adapted that to measuring the footprints of my tools, the openings in the walls and the potential workflow. Measured all my floor equipment and labeled a dimension-ed drawing then cut out all the pieces and laid out the shop floor with doors electric boxes and windows.

Definitely easier that moving the equipment first. LOL! Also allowed ”“What if I?” scenarios I also simultaneously started culling the wood cuts laying up against the wall for some time now. When it stops snowing I’ll be using my burn barrel.

Thanks for reading. If you’ve gone through this process and have some” ah ha’s” to add they would be appreciated

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

21 replies so far

View Woodbridge's profile


3718 posts in 3270 days

#1 posted 01-15-2018 02:26 AM

Hi Tom. My new shop is about 18×18 and I’m just in the process of setting it up. Its amazing how quickly it fills up.

I’m terrible for leaving stuff on any horizontal surface instead of putting it back in its proper spot. On ting I am trying to do is minimise the amount of these surfaces except for the workbench I will build.

I’m keeping all my equipment on casters since I don’t have room for everything and need to store some stuff (eg thickness planer) up against the wall moving it out when I need it. Over time I’ve found that the bigger the caster the better. This time around I’m using 5” casters with all four wheels rotating and locking. That allows to wheels to easily roll over little obstructions on the floor and with four rotating castors its easy to position the machine anywhere.

The other thing I’ve done is to purchase extension cords or reels that are hung on the ceiling. That way there are no wires on the floor.

A few more months and I’ll have the new shop ready and can start working on projects again.


-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6170 posts in 3261 days

#2 posted 01-15-2018 02:42 AM

I hear ya on moving stuff around and making room to fit new stuff and such. Been busy on a twin table saw cabinet build for the last 7 weeks. When laying out the drawers I wrote on every single page, tools ONLY! The idea being to move as many tools into the drawers as possible freeing up enough space to make two cabinets on casters where on 9 footer is bolted to the wall.

While I keep my drawers well organized and am good about putting tools back. A horizontal surface is a prime candidate to put anything not a tool. Wood, somewhat finished projects, abandoned projects, spare hardware, small boxes of odds and ends etc etc.

But hey, I always have something to do in the shop, and that is a good thing!

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View DocSavage45's profile


9017 posts in 3694 days

#3 posted 01-15-2018 03:06 AM

Peter! Hey Been Awhile! I remember that you moved and a new shop was in the works. 18×18 is pretty decent. Had I a do over I’d have built a 3 ar garage with a second floor. LOL! My wife wants the”Stuff in the dining room to go out to the shop.” Just don’t know where to put it?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


9017 posts in 3694 days

#4 posted 01-15-2018 03:09 AM


Good luck of your cabinet. Before I tore down the bench I thought about drawers. I have a bunch of drawer slides. maybe once I get the assembly space more efficient??

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6170 posts in 3261 days

#5 posted 01-15-2018 04:00 AM

I went with ball bearing slides on everything I have made since 2010. Converting the European slides to the same a few at a time until all of them are eventually ball bearing type.

As for drawers I work as a mechanic. Laying out every inch is something we have to do to keep the work flowing. A habit I carried over into the shop at home.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View DocSavage45's profile


9017 posts in 3694 days

#6 posted 01-15-2018 04:12 AM

I bought a case of the slides I have from the Habitat for Humanity Re Store when our local place had exceptional deals.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Greg the Cajun Wood Artist's profile

Greg the Cajun Wood Artist

522 posts in 1794 days

#7 posted 01-15-2018 05:45 AM

When i first built my shop i had 6 work tables and instead of being worktables they became storage tabletops. I eliminated four and that helped me to organize everything better and place storage on the walls and in places easier to organize and find. Glad I did. Live and learn.
Those software shop layout things like the one from Grizzly are OK and I used it initially. I have moved my larger tools around the shop on several locations before I found a setup that I like better…trial and error…and who knows, stuff might be shulleled around again.
Every night I now put all my tools back in place and get them the next day as I need them. Makes a big difference with structured organization…I try to do a thorough flood vacuuming every week. I feel better and work better when my shop is clean and organized…

-- Wood for projects is like a good Fart..."better when you cut it yourself" Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does

View DocSavage45's profile


9017 posts in 3694 days

#8 posted 01-15-2018 07:48 AM

Greg, Thanks for your comments. I do make a serious effort to put it back so I can find it again, But as I said I would clean up my outside work area and then set it down inside the shop and thus it begins.

I measured the space in between tools and looked at the work flow which I wanted to improve. I’m happy with it so far, and we’ll see. I am thinking wall storage to the ceiling maybe with drawers on a wall that has dead space but now has stacks of wood vertical against the wall.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View PhilBello's profile


411 posts in 2819 days

#9 posted 01-15-2018 12:10 PM

Sounds like you have been keeping extra busy Tom! I did much as you when I had this workshop built, a case of ‘Good Intentions’, I will be surprised if once you start using the new layout, you don’t find a better way, they say practise makes perfect, they don’t realise it also causes hernias!! Keep safe!

-- If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain - Steven Wright

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3468 posts in 4290 days

#10 posted 01-15-2018 02:32 PM

I’ve redone my 24×24’ shop twice.

1. Everything on wheels. Good to move around to make a big space and to pull things out to clean.

2. Unless you’re a big hand tool user, a good assembly bench instead of a traditional woodworkers bench (just my preference.)

3. Everything in cabinets with doors. Dust settles on everything even with good dust collection. Anything out in the open will eventually look like it’s painted with dust. blowing it off doesn’t clean it. Still, some things will need to be left on tool walls etc. Just be ready for the dust to be permanent on those.

4. Limited drawers. They just become catchalls for stuff. Any drawers I have are in cabinets with doors.

5. Everything is assembly table height. If you go the assembly instead of the woodworkers bench route, make it, and other stuff the same height. The assembly table (on wheels) is an outfeed table for the table saw, It can be slid over to the miter saw for super long boards, It can be moved to the side of the table saw to support plywood. The router table can be rolled over to it when you are routing long pieces. etc.

6. No wall workbenches. With an outfeed/assembly table available, they just take up room. Tools on carts with wheels belong on the wall, ready to use or be rolled out to use.

7. Light, light, light. I purchase used 2×4 hung ceiling light fixtures with 4 florescent tubes in each. The are cheap (especially if you can find them on craigslist) bright, and are hum and flicker free. They often come with a crystal sheet to disperse the light. I screw them to the ceiling and build a band of wood around them using sanded plywood.

8. Unless the shop is your hobby, build it well, and functional, but for me there is no need to build a router table out of an exotic wood with the cabinetry look of something I’d put in my living room. Purchase some framing lumber and 3/4” plywood. Build stuff cleanly and to stay together. I figure, “why does my planer need to be on a bubinga stand with cabinet doors with antiqued hinges?” The same box made with a sheet of plywood from home depot, good wheels, and of course with the planer wings the same height as the outfeed table is what I’ve settled on.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Bricofleur's profile


1479 posts in 4045 days

#11 posted 01-15-2018 02:49 PM

It’s a good start (think intention) Tom, but you will have to admit that a shop is never done or set for ever. In other words, it’s a ‘work in progress’, such as many others ‘intentions’ (think reorganization’s’). I believe this is part of the fun of woodworking. Finally, I think a well organized and clean workshop isn’t call a workshop but a showroom !!! LOL

Happy New Year 2018 !


-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View a1Jim's profile


118136 posts in 4429 days

#12 posted 01-15-2018 03:02 PM

Sounds like your making good progress Tom , I’ve spent the last few months trying to do the same thing, for me the bottom line is I have too much stuff in what space I have. If I had room for a dedicated outdoor wood storage that would make a big difference but so far I haven’t been able to find a place to build that on my postage stamp sized lot. keep up the good progress, I’m sure your improvements will make your shop much more efficient.


View doubleDD's profile


9657 posts in 2895 days

#13 posted 01-15-2018 03:32 PM

Looks like you are tackling all this organization in good spirit. As long as you keep you’re head up about clutter you will have a decent layout soon. There is no one set up for any shop. Like others have said, it’a a on going problem. With wheels on as many tools as possible you can easily change things around. I have some tools that haven’t moved since I started the shop, others move around quite a bit. I guess it has a lot to do with what you build.
Good luck with your improvements.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View DocSavage45's profile


9017 posts in 3694 days

#14 posted 01-15-2018 07:48 PM

Phil! Great to hear from you and I hope you’re feeling better. Not going to get too carried away, but As Jim said in his reply I have too much stuff ( think George Karlin’s routine on “stuff”) And I have an order for a special different box but the tools are covered and the benches are covered. while uncovering I figured it’s a little more effort to be efficient? As Greg said an open top has been an invitation?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View a1Jim's profile


118136 posts in 4429 days

#15 posted 01-15-2018 07:54 PM

Ha ha Tom
George Karlin’s routine on “stuff” is what I always think of too, when I hear the word stuff.


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