No doubt many of us would love to have a huge, 2000 square foot building devoted to woodcraft, on a wooded acreage somewhere. But there is a reality that goes with a hobby shared by numerous ordinary people: very few really have the means to set up such palatial workshops. We have our lives to lead, and engaging in such a venture is out of the reach for most, myself included. This article is dedicated to workshops for "the rest of us."
Day in and day out we all deal with electricity, but it seems to be some illusive concept that few woodworkers really understand. Electricity drives our tools, and drives our everyday life. Electricity has the versatility to replace many older forms of energy. Without it we would still be using lanterns for light, fires for heat, and oxen for work.
The shop you see in the layout is my current setup and has evolved over many years to accommodate most importantly the acquisition of newer equipment but also better work flow. It is a free standing two story traditional barn style with office and storage space on the second level. Lumber and supplies are moved in and out of the shop through the front overhead door. To the left of the door are the lumber and plywood storage racks. Across from the lumber rack and to the right of the overhead door is the radial arm saw, miter saw and mortise utilizing a single fence system for all operations. Below and above these are cabinets and storage for misc. power hand tools.
Typically a woodworking shop starts in a corner of the garage or basement. Then over time you add tools, develop new skills, expand the shop and change the layout. And at some point over this evolution you may be lucky enough to design a new shop from scratch or to completely rethink and revamp the existing space you have.
Our Idea Shop 2000 occupies a 12'x20' building connected to the garage by a covered portico. The shop's 9' ceiling has three powered, venting skylights, each operated electronically. Those, plus four windows, French doors, and a pastel color scheme add natural light and a sense of spaciousness in what otherwise might feel like tight quarters.
I recently met a man known among local woodworkers for having a large workshop with a lot of tools. He offered to show me his workshop, and take photographs of it. His workshop covers the entire basement of a large 1800 square foot bungalow. It's difficult to capture this workshop in just a few photos, so I figured I'd include a large number of photos.
This is not a guide to shop layout. That may, in fact come later, depending on how much time I devote to this web site. These are important issues that you must consider as you design your shop. My shop is in my garage. Even as we were picking out house designs I knew it would be in my garage. That means that there isn’t a time since we decided to build that I haven’t been considering these issues, and planning and changing plans. That is the nature of it. I knew what I would settle for as a minimum, and made sure it was expendable enough to ensure I could change my mind if I needed or wanted .
Lumber and supplies are moved in and out of the shop through the front overhead door. To the left of the door are the lumber and plywood storage racks. Across from the lumber rack and to the right of the overhead door is the radial arm saw, miter saw and mortise utilizing a single fence system for all operations. Below and above these are cabinets and storage for misc. power hand tools. Next to the radial arm saw and in the corner is the floor drill press with accessory storage next to it for all drilling operations. Across from the radial arm saw is a separate workstation set up with a small portable table saw and router set-up with storage underneath for routers, bits and accessories.