Small shop, review and review for space?

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Forum topic by Tennessee posted 11-24-2011 11:04 PM 1377 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 3564 days

11-24-2011 11:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor question

I build guitars, so my space needed is not too bad. I am, however, a true tool hound. (Not good if you need space) I have had many shops over the years, starting in 1971 with an attic shop! I can think of at least four-five others as I moved around the US.
I am currently in a 10 X 28 garage turned shop. I have a garage door, (insulated), and a man door leading outside. Four sets of shelves. I’ve installed 220VAC for the planer, lathe and compressor, and 120VAC and lighting for the rest. It’s tight, no doubt. To top it off, it sits under a sunroom where originally a driveway was, so the floor it asphalt, slightly slanted, and the ceilings are low. (7’ 2”) If I drop a screw, it always goes towards one wall!!
I have a secondary room under the house where I store wood, and tools I do not use but once in a great while, and I mean months between. I have to go outside to get into the basement area. Luckily I live in Southern Tennessee, so weather is not a big problem.
Do you guys do what I do? I mean every so often go out and just stare at the shop, trying to imagine how to better get more space? I did it today and gained a few inches. Victory!! But if I had to build a chest of drawers, forget it! But I can do most of what I want. I just get sick of moving things around all the time to get to the task at hand. I’ve had bigger shops, but you go with what you got in the house you live in at the time. I’m one of those people who follow the money, so I’ve lived in many states, many houses.
Just interested in the comments of those people who have small, small, shops, and how do you make space?
Terrible tales welcome!!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

4 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4627 days

#1 posted 11-24-2011 11:16 PM

Oh yeah Paul I do that all the time even though my shop is bigger than yours I still have to much stuff for the space I have.


View ETwoodworks's profile


92 posts in 3743 days

#2 posted 11-24-2011 11:29 PM

I have a 20’x24’ garage shop and I have to move tools around constantly. I am sure if I got a bigger shop I would just find a way to fill the extra space with more tools.

-- Building quality in a throw away world.

View Neight's profile


112 posts in 3443 days

#3 posted 11-24-2011 11:36 PM

so far, I am working in half a basement. the working space I am using was already here when I moved in, and all of the outlets are on one side of the basement, so I am forced to stay over on this side. I don’t have a TS yet, and have no idea where I would put it if I had one, though working without one is proving to be a challenge.
Right now, I have a bandsaw, mitre saw, very very small drill press and a small router table. I also have a 10” surface planer that is under my workbench and i only get it out when I need it. I can assemble larger projects in the half of the basement that doesn’t have power, so that is helpful, but it will be a challenge to build anything larger than a small table or large box with the space I have.
As my budget allows, I will upgrade the electric down here, and expand into the other half, but for now, it’s small projects or bust…
except the bandsaw, everything I have is quite portable, so it all gets moved around a lot as I need to use more or less of my workbench. On of the first things I will do when I have enough stock is build a new workbench. The one I have now was sort of mashed together, and isn’t level, and has several large gaps between the boards. it’s a challenge to work on, but I am making due for now. This bench setup appears to have been put in by a previous owner to work on electronics, radios and televisions judging from the things that were left behind. It’s is actually pretty convenient since that is my other “hobby” building and testing electronics, but it’s not ideal for woodworking.

-- Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. -Mark Twain

View Paul Mayer's profile

Paul Mayer

1154 posts in 4115 days

#4 posted 11-25-2011 06:16 PM

The two things that I do are 1) exactly what you are doing. question all the time if there is a better way to organize. I lay it out on my computer where it is easier to move things around, and I have made some great breakthroughs by just revisiting this in my mind, and 2) this may not be a popular one here, but I really resist the urge to buy additional tools. If I can get by without something, I do. Some things that have fallen into that category for me so far: lathe, mortiser, drum sander, and probably a few others. If I was in a smaller shop I would do without a jointer, and probably downsize to a benchtop band saw. If I were in an extremely small shop, I would have a band saw, a bench, and hand tools. When forced to choose, I like additional room to move and assemble things more than I like more tools, especially ones with a narrow purpose.

-- Paul Mayer,

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