For any woodworker, the opportunity to have a woodshop at home is one which will be mixed with both excitement and trepidation. The excitement is obviously due to the thought of being able to take a few steps from your home and to then be in your workshop, be that in the garage, the basement or the shed.
Where the trepidation might arise for many is the realization that as much as you might look forward to working in your woodworking shop, there is no small matter of building it, and even before that, the planning of it.
The plans for your woodworking shop have to take account of many factors, so in this article, we will share with you some planning tips so that the first phase of building your workshop is completed as well as it can be.
Before You Start
One thing you must try to remember as you start on this woodworking shop planning process is that you do not have to get it 100% right the first time. Even some of the best architects in the world change their plans as a project progresses, so do not feel that you are welded to any particular aspect of the initial plan.
If, as you move forward, you feel something is not right, change it. After all, it is YOUR woodworking shop, and you have the right to have it laid out any way you wish.
The one caveat to that last statement is that whatever way you finally decide to lay it out, it must be in such a way that makes your workshop safe for you and others who might enter it.
Getting it Down on Paper
It is true some of the greatest ideas in history were first conceived of by someone writing them on a scrap of paper. One of the most famous examples is J.K. Rowling whose first scribblings for the Harry Potter books were made on scraps of paper as she traveled on a train. While that proved very successful for her (to the tune of $1 billion) we suggest that you use something more suitable for planning your woodshop.
Squared paper is ideal as it allows you to draw the plan to scale, and you can keep the lines straight and neat, assuming you use a ruler to make them. The other benefit of getting a plan on paper is it gives you the opportunity to visualize more clearly how the layout might work, or not, as the case might be.
Cutouts and Shapes
If we take the planning on paper a stage further what you can do instead of drawing everything and then re-drawing it if you want to change anything, is to use cutouts. What we mean is that on the main paper you draw the outline shape of the room, which is obviously fixed unless you are planning to extend it.
Then, using another piece of paper, you draw each of the tools, workbenches and storage units individually. You then cut each of these out and place them on your main layout drawing.
This way you can try different setups within the workshop using those cutouts to represent each item that is going to be in there. This will be especially useful when the amount of space you have is very limited. In these circumstances, planning can be more difficult as you have fewer options in terms of where each tool or workbench can go.
If you do have a small room for your woodworking shop, we highly recommend you check out 'The Ultimate Small Shop Guide.' This has a wealth of ideas and suggestions on how to set up a small woodworking shop in scenarios where space or the budget is limited.
A concept which many follow when planning the woodworking shop is to think of it being split into distinct zones. How you allocate each zone might be influenced by how you actually work, and the number of them will depend on how big your workshop is. Some suggestions are as follows:
Raw Lumber Storage
This is the area or zone where all your raw lumber is stored, and the best place for this is near the door. The reason is that when you arrive with it from the lumber store there is less distance for you to carry it across the workshop.
This is where you would position the main power saw or saws that you plan to use. Ideally, you want this to be a well-ventilated part of your workshop so that sawdust doesn't accumulate in the air you are breathing.
This is the main workbench you will be using and around this area you should set it up so that you have easy access to your hand tools and small power tools. This is also the zone where the most consideration is needed in relation to how well it is lit. ideally, you want this near a window if you have one, or below or in front of, the main electrical light.
If the final stages of your woodworking projects tend to be finishing with the use of staining or varnishing, then if space allows, it is best to have this in a separate area, or better still, a partitioned off section.
We've mentioned storing your lumber, but what will also need storing are all the additional materials and accessories that you might need for your woodworking. Nails, screws, glues, drill bits, saw blades, and even spare light bulbs, are but a few of the many things that you will want to create storage capacity for in your workshop plans.
Plan for Safe Working
Regardless of the final plan that you make for your workshop, you must always check that they allow you and others to remain safe at all times. In order to get more ideas for what you should be considering in relation to safety, 'The Ultimate Small Shop Guide' is a great resource.
It has a section dedicated to planning a safe woodworking shop with many tips on the electrics, fire safety, and other ways to make your woodshop layout as safe as possible