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Tiny Woodshop? Setup Advice

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by Farwesterner1, Nov 20, 2020.

  1. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

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    I compare it to going to the cinema. You don't need it to be quick or have anything finished at the end of it

    Working with your hands has a very different aesthetic. I do own a lot of power tools, but prefer to avoid using them. Something about using a hand brace that a power drill cannot replace
     
  2. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a small shop in a one-car garage about 10' x 16' with an 8' ceiling and an 8' roll-up door. Space is at a premium. The tools you need (and choose) are supremely important because how you store them and use them matters in a small space. Anytime you have to move something to get to something else cumulatively adds an incredible amount of time to your work processes.

    What I have found extremely helpful is to have everything--even workbenches--on wheels. At a minumum, 2" steel (not plastic or rubber) swiveling casters on all four corners. If you're on concrete, steel is the only thing to use. Wheels under everything makes reconfiguring the workspace based on the size of your project a simple matter.

    My large tools are an 8" drill press on a wheeled stand, a 10" table saw on a fold-up wheeled cart, a stick welder and a MIG/TIG welder (both on carts), and an 8" bench grinder mounted to a sturdy shelf on one wall. Everything else is bench-top or portable, stored in a cabinet or in a case high on a shelf. All commonly-used tools are hanging on a board where I can reach them in seconds.

    Two very important things: (1) Make a huge effort to get into the habit of returning every tool to its home after using it. Every tool, every time. If you lay a tool down and come back a few days later, looking for that tool takes away from your available build time. And (2), keep your bench tops clean and uncluttered; don't store anything on them. Having to move something from a bench top to somewhere else just so you have room to work takes away from your build time and leads to clutter in the shop. And clutter leads to missing tools, accidents and injuries.

    When you first set up your shop, expect to make a few major changes to the layout as you work through the first few projects because you'll discover your work processes go faster and smoother if the shop is configured for you--rather than you adapting to the layout of the shop. Think of the shop as like a kitchen, with the three most-used items (i.e., refrigerator, stove, sink) being at the points of a triangle and you the chef in the center.

    I usually do all my sawdusty and paint operations outside on folding sawhorses that take up very little storage space.

    Last item: count up the total number of clamps you'll need, and multiply that number by at least 5. That's the true number you'll need ;)

    My shop:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020 at 2:27 PM
  3. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    My advice build a flat workbench and put it in the carport. I would not worry about dust just wear a mask and open the door when you work (now if you are in there every day that is different) I would spray things outdoors if possible so don't worry about that. get a good table saw and 6 inch jointer and a planer. Look local craigslist
     
  4. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    A good cabinet table saw is the heart of any serious wood shop and for convenience you can't beat one :).

    But, . . . for a lot of us owning one is not in the cards for reasons of space or $$$.

    I've got a 30 or so year old smooth running and powerful Makita bench saw that will do what's needed, but for most ripping operations I use my old Skil worm drive saw with a cutting guide along with a good quality blade. You can get precisely dimensioned cuts made at a perfect 90 angle (or whatever angle), with this setup.

    If you break down your 4' x 8' sheet goods to size under your carport before you bring them in your small shop, it sure makes life easier :).


    edit: Something to consider: If you want to work comfortably and safely with a table saw and 4' x 8' sheet goods - you need more headroom than an 8 foot ceiling provides. That's just my opinion talking.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020 at 1:51 PM
  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Shop setup is like guitar tone or getting married.
    Plenty will make helpful suggestions but it comes down to your individual preferences and ingenuity.

    I use a real dust collector but only on the table saw, which I need because I make lots of different stuff including speaker cabs etc.
    I do run a smaller shop vac on one chop saw because it's an easy hookup.

    Keeping dust free for spraying is maybe not automatic just from a dust collector, maybe tarp off a tiny space for spraying.
    You don't really mean an actual "spray booth" though with big exhaust fan?
    That will suck floating dust right to your finishes!
    I've worked in a furniture shop, spraying in a booth only 30 feet from milling areas, but we just stopped all milling on days when spraying was done. I agree with putting the dust collector outside, but there are also fine filters including bag liners that reduce the particle size that comes out the collector exhaust.

    I've worked in a boat shop that seemed not that dusty on some days, then we open the two story doors and the sun beaming in reveals lots of dust we couldn't see.

    Tools on carts seems like a good idea but I don't want tools moving, and enough good casters with good brakes will cost as much as one whole used shop tool. All up to you!

    You didn't say how many what size machines you're putting in there?
     
  6. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Like I said wheels. I also like to sand outside weather permitting two sawhorses and a piece of ply you have a nice work area.
     

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  7. Farwesterner1

    Farwesterner1 TDPRI Member

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    That is my dream mini-workshop.
     
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  8. Farwesterner1

    Farwesterner1 TDPRI Member

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    I'd like a small benchtop drill press. I have a 10" chop saw. Instead of a table saw, I'll probably just use my circular saw with a good straight edge clamp. I'd love to have a table saw, but won't have room.
     
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  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    2267A7AF-CF4F-458C-95C1-1692FDD9EF4B.jpeg 2AE98227-8F44-445B-B62E-130F0192F418.jpeg I forgot to measure but I think the bench I built against the wall is 2’ wide and it’s got front legs but cleats to the wall in back.
    The other bench is on locking 4” casters and was a kitchen table top I have 4x4 legs plus a shelf underneath.
    Messy right now but I think a long narrow wall bench plus maybe something like my 3’x5’ table is a good workable movable setup plus you need horses because everybody needs horses if not a factory setup!

    Note that I am not a guitar builder!
    I’ve been a guitar tech but all that I consider clean room work and do in the house. Finishing also I do in a cleaner room but my garage has a tarp wall in the middle because I used to have an antique car and oily parts everywhere.
    Easy enough to tarp a corner for spraying which is not at the same time as milling.

    Feel free to make fun of my horrible mess!
    I can actually find tools and use them!
    Might help that I have five of every tool...
     
  10. epizootics

    epizootics Tele-Meister

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    Preeb should chime in, his rooftop workshop of yore was pretty small from what I remember :)

    My workshop has pretty much the exact dimensions you're planning to use with all of its 8'x14'. It has the added disadvantages of doubling as my office AND being located in a flat. I've lost count but I'd say I've built 12-15 guitars in here already.

    It does take discipline. The only two stationary tools are a small bandsaw and an old AEG drill stand. The latter was my dad's first drill - a gift from his dad in 1974! - and a more powerful & precise tool than most cheap drill presses I've seen.

    Using a bench plane is maybe the most valuable skill you can get in such a tight space. There's no was I could fit a power planer in here. No dust collection in here, just an old Moulinex vacuum cleaner. A Stanley no. 5 allows you to thickness stock & prepare your glue-ups. I cut everything on the bandsaw and use the plane to clean things up.

    Everything is modulable and needs to be taken out & stored again after use. It is a bit of a PITA but I got used to it over time. My tiny router table was built to fit over the box in which I store my rattle cans. When I have to use my routers for the dirty jobs I sometimes split the room in two with plastic film.

    As others have said - spray outside if you can. Here's my spray booth:

    [​IMG]

    (that's the yard behind my apartment building :) )
     
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  11. Lonn

    Lonn Friend of Leo's

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    8x16 isn't THAT small, but as has been mentioned organization is going to be key. Figure out what you want in there and then look at as many google pics of workshops as you can stand for inspiration.
     
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  12. ghostchord

    ghostchord Tele-Meister

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    I'm moving in 2 weeks and our new house will have a 122 sq ft finished/powered shed that I'm planning to make into a workshop... I'm super excited, first time I'll have a "real" workshop. Gonna read through all the advice here carefully... I have a lot of "stuff" so I'll probably need to be picky about what gets to live there. I'll start with my work bench and go from there.
     
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  13. Farwesterner1

    Farwesterner1 TDPRI Member

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    Is there a good "small workshop porn" site around, on Instagram or elsewhere?

    I'd love to see tons of photos of peoples' shop setups, tool selections, strategies for clever storage, and just general workshop design.
     
  14. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

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    Intelligent design is all very well but I prefer evolution

    I saw some repair on YT the other day and the guy said he had no tools on racks in front of him because he didn't want to be reaching across his work and maybe dropping a tool on it. Full time luthier with a messy shop he works in full time - organised to suit the proper working as opposed to a display of every tool

    I have a few things to hand that I use constantly, and the rest is out of the way, avoiding dust

    Odd thing I use all the time: small billhook knife from a cobblers that I use as a scraper
     
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  15. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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  16. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I came up with a simple and cheap way to store drill/drivers and their battery charging docks completely of the way but still easily within reach. This uses three 10" lengths of Sch 40 PVC pipe with a 1.5" wide slot cut into one side to accommodate the handles. Each tube mounts using two screws under a little shelf, with the chargers mounted to a board behind them. Extra batteries rest on the little shelf above.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    One thing that has bugged me for years is the number of different batteries for all the different small power tools (and the fact that you can't buy replacements). I have been more or less standardizing on one brand of tool that uses the same battery for all the different devices
     
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  18. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    To at least some degree I think how we organize our workshop depends on how we organize our thinking.
    “A place for everything and everything in its place” is merely a style, not a requirement.

    I’ve worked in both production and custom shops that do need that sort of organization so that the next guy can find stuff.

    But for me I tend to multi task and will reorganize a bench for a specific process rather than keep every tool for every process right there at all times.
    This fits with the casters idea and small space usage but many still like “the clean bench” to always have everything right at hand for a variety of different procedures.

    Rather than sharpie outlines where tools go, I like different benches in different work areas with different degrees of “clean”, meaning dust and chips go to one bench while liquid finish products get their own bench and the guitar setup & wiring bench never sees stock removal or finishing products.

    I respect any craftsman’s setup that works for them, and would not tell anyone my seemingly crazy methods are best.
    I also am a tools hoarder buying used and keeping multiples at different locations, so for some with limited tools and space that makes no sense.

    But your creating of your own work space needs to make sense to YOU.

    Somebody mentioned that the first setup will be subject to change which is helpful and maybe cautionary against putting time and money into a refined setup before doing some actual work there.

    Many times I’ve built a refined rigid setup only to abandon it in use, and just as often I’ve built some temporary single use setup that I keep going back to because it keeps working for me.

    I forget who said it but there’s a quote something like “never trust a guitar tech that doesn’t have a messy workbench”.
    That’s not fair but it’s a valid point that obsessively tidy craftsmen only display tidiness in the bench style.
    The quality of the work is not related to the tidiness of the bench!
     
  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Too true.
    I’ve drifted into mostly Makita for long running compatibility but still run a little Milwaukee drill for delicate work and they keep making that battery while the drill doesn’t die. I’m on third or fourth Makita cordless drill and they haven’t let me down yet.
    Numerous other brand old drills around I can’t bring myself to toss or get batteries for. Tool hoarder!
     
  20. Farwesterner1

    Farwesterner1 TDPRI Member

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    Agree. But for me, I have to organize opposite to how my brain works. I am a massive clutterer. I operate on expediency: I use a tool and drop it where it is in a hurry to find the next one. I am a monotasker—driven only by the job in front of me. Everything else (including replacing tools) is a waste of time, a distraction. The result is chaos, mess, insanity.

    Because of that, I need systems. I need a rigorous but simple organizational logic that I will not forget, so that replacing a tool in its space is as easy as dropping it on the work bench.

    My wife doesn't understand my strategy. She's wired the opposite of me: a magnificent multitasker who can juggle thirty things at once, her brain organizes things natively, and she has a high tolerance for organization, deliberation, and slower pacing. She returns everything to its neatened state before moving on to the next task. When I explain my need for systems to "trick" my brain into being neat, she doesn't get it.
    Her: "Why not just organize everything at the outset and take time to clean your workbench every thirty minutes to avoid clutter?"
    Me: "No, that makes too much sense."
     
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