Is a multi function workshop a flying submarine?

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Molynoox

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I have done a bit of thinking recently about workshop design, and it occurred to me that other people may find this interesting so sharing my ideas and thought process here. You may find this particularly useful if you have a tendency for over planning and going round in circles and not getting things done. In fact that is probably the only reason you would find this interesting because there is not a lot of actual knowledge in there.

BACKGROUND

I now have my 4m x 3.5m workshop space ready. When I say ready its not really ready - its a mostly bare room (essentially) and it needs some further work to make it usable. I have been going around in circles a little bit with the next stages of the planning and the reasons for that are (I think) as follows:

• There is a lot of information out there about different workshop design options
• I have a general tendency to overplan things and not commit to ideas for fear of them not being perfect
• I have multiple 'functions' that I want out of the space, and this is adding ambiguity and complexity inside my head

PICS OF CURRENT STATUS
1.jpeg

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5.jpeg


Having spent time on youtube, and also in books, reviewing different workbench / storage options I realised that I was starting in the wrong place and also analysing in the wrong direction. I was starting with the solutions and then applying them to my potential 'problems', without even knowing what my potential problems/needs were. Give a man a hammer and everything will look like a nail!
Problem is not really the right word, it is more 'functions' i.e.

What do I want the space to do for me? Or...
What are its 'functions'?


So, I realised that it wasn't 100% clear what my workshop 'solutions' looked like because I wasn't 100% clear what my needs (functions) were. I decided to list them all out. And then it became clear how ridiculous my 'requirements' or intended functions were. There appeared to be a lot of incompatibility between them all. No wonder I was going around in circles :-D

Here is my list

FUNCTIONS
1. Workshop (configurable)
2. Office
3. Exercising
4. Relaxing

*I have decided that the configurable element is really a sub-function of the workshop part only and therefore have embedded it there as opposed to a separate 'fifth' function

With the functions clear, I then broke it down into physical things. What I mean by that is what physical objects will I need in order to satisfy all the functions and is it even possible to have all those different things in one space.

THINGS

Workshop
Workbench(s)
Storage (SIZE: large / medium / small TYPE: drawers / shelves / cupboards)
Dust extraction
Castors (makes it configurable - applies to all 'floor' components)
*I have oversimplified this for now, restricting myself to high level categories, so I can at least plan out all the basic functions without getting bogged down in details like I normally do

Office
Desk
Chair
Monitor (not essential)

Exercise
Floor space + mat (for calisthenics)
Weights / bench (not essential)

Relaxing (optional / nice to have)
Comfy chair
Relaxing space (no dust, no clutter)
Access to 'relaxing stuff' (books / headphones etc)

CONCLUSIONS AT THIS POINT
So after listing out all these things and giving it some further thought, there appears to be quite a lot of 'stuff' that would need to fit into the space. So here are my current thoughts on my priorities:

• Function 1: it has become clear that primarily this is a workshop. My plan is to get more into woodworking as a hobby, and the space was always created as a workshop, so I must not lose sight of that and allow that to be compromised too much
• Function 2: I do also need it to be an office, but more for occasional use, say one day a week, rather than a 5 days a week type thing. This means the office part should not dominate or compromise the workshop part
• Function 3: I would like to be able to exercise in there, not sure how regularly yet - I may end up with a separate gym membership in future which would pretty much eliminate the need for this function
• Function 4: I would like to be able to use the space as a place to just go and relax, sit down with a book or listen to music - to do that it needs to be free of dust and clutter (because I have a heightened sensitive to clutter). I have set this as a 'nice to have' function due to the obvious incompatibilities with the workshop, but it would be great if I can get this to work alongside the other things.

SHORT VERSION
The space will be optimised for workshop use with provisions for office use, and will have exercising and relaxing options thrown in if they don't compromise item 1 and 2.

CONSIDERATIONS
• You need a bench to build a bench - its probably not realistic to try and build an 8ft Roubo on a B&D workmate, so I should start with something simple and go up in stages.
• Dust from the workshop creates problems for the other functions so need to think about that - putting certain things in cupboards (monitor), and/or having good extraction
• Compromise - I dont have the space or budget for everything I might want in an ideal world (birch ply, valchromat, Benchdogs MFT shiny stuff, Incra fences/router lifts etc) so I need to be realistic / sensible. Ooh ooooh, I'm not good at that normally...
• Over planning - I need to overcome my normal tendencies and not put TOO much thought into this. It's probably too late in reality but I can at least stop it spiralling further out of control. Or can I....
• I have decided not to design in any provision for a table saw - I will manage with a track saw and this saves me some space and money.
• I am not planning on spending much time thinking about 'workflow' and positioning of machines to optimise that - in a small space like mine and for hobby use, it doesn't matter much I don't think. Especially as its all on castors and hence can be changed anyway...
• I will however think about location of certain machines in terms of infeed and outfeed space, but again, its not really that important as everything will be mobile, so I can work that stuff out on the fly and change it accordingly.
• I will situate the mitre saw and bandsaw near the french doors so i can extend my infeed or outfeed easily - I was cutting 4m long skirting boards the other day and this ended up as the natural place for the mitre saw to be.
• I dont want to create big cumbersome things like a fixed mitre saw station, I would prefer to have a slimline cart for a mitre saw that can be combined with other vanilla (modular) benches of the same height so i can easily create a mitre saw station, only when needed.
• In general, because this is a small space, I want to maximise every bit of space - if I get sloppy with the design, I feel I will run out of space really quickly.


GENERAL PLAN
Staged approach: I am going to start by building a very basic bench that has some storage - this will get me a usable flat surface to work on and also a basic amount of storage so I have access to tools I use frequently. From there I can start to expand my empire, building additional storage and if needed more advanced benches. By advanced I mean pointlessly complex.
Desk / bench: Having a 'traditional' desk (4 legs and a top) is wasteful on space and I would like to look at the alternatives. Either a fold up / fold out type thing, or a hybrid desk / bench with storage space included. The key thing is being able to get my legs underneath, which makes a 'normal' bench unsuitable - I need to think about how to do it.
Storage: I quite like the idea of a french cleat system, perhaps on the 'grey' wall at the back, the strips of ply on dark grey would look pretty cool I reckon. I know workshops are not living rooms but if i can make it look cool at same time as being functional then why not. My worry the cleat system is I will spend too long making bespoke 'hangy' things for it as opposed to actually building 'stuff'. And is it really needed....


SKETCHES
I just have one sketch of the potential layout so far:
workshop sketch.jpeg


The two unlabelled rectangles are modular benchs / carts that can have storage under them but also work as either infeed / outfeed for other things, or as assembly tables

Here are my two current sketches for the combined bench / workshop:
desk sketches.jpeg


I would like to utilise the space under the desk when its not a desk, I am thinking that a shop vac / dust extractor could go there, and the chair for the desk needs a home I suppose...


THINGS FOR THINKING ABOUT LATER
Bench design / type
Storage configuration

QUESTIONS
  • Any general feedback?
  • Anybody know of any small workshops (youtube vids etc)?
  • Anybody know of any cool workshops for me to take a look at?
  • What about workshops with multiple functions like what I am trying to do? I have looked around and I dont really see anybody trying to do multi function in one room, maybe its a terrible idea....
  • Any other inspirational sources I should be looking at?

And back to the title of the post, is a multi function workshop really a flying submarine? i.e. does the design architecture of one thing conflict with the design architecture of the other?
Plane: (flies = lightweight)
Sub: (resists pressure=heavy)

I really need to work on being more succinct.

Martin
 

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Your first question should be, what activity will you do in it most to least and then list them in that order. Then work out the best layout for each and compromise from there.
For instance, I would put the office element in the left corner by the door as for most of my wood machines tend to lend themselves to being placed for working in an anti clockwise direction.
eg
1. wood comes in the window on the right and is then then stored on wall shelves and or put through the PT
2. stuff comes in and gets sawn to dimension on a mobile TS in the middle and then onto the back wall machines such as SCMS/BS or tennoner
3. shuffled along to be worked by hand on a bench and then
4. moved round for finishing/assembly

Which would give enough space for a desk and computer in the corner to do office stuff and also give clear middle to jump about or put up a hammock
 
You are way over thinking this, there is no right or wrong layout because it will depend what you are doing and how you work. What you have on day one will probably be different a year later as you adapt it to suit your needs and the need to accomodate different machines so castors can be a good idea. Apart from this all you must ensure is that you can feed wood into and take it out of a machine without obstruction and you can work safely without trip hazzards.
 
I think you've already identified the main problem - overthinking. I would advise turning the whole thing on its head. Decide on something you would like to make and JFDI. "But I haven't got a bench" I hear you say. Well get one. You don't have to make one; there's plenty of s/h ones out there. "But where can I put my tools?" Where are they at the moment? Can they stay there for a while? Just make sure you have the essential kit available for the next stage of your project. Take it step by step.
While you're making do and actually achieving something you can also be planning ahead on the next development for the workshop. You've already decided to make things flexible by having units movable on castors (BTW, having just bought a set of casters, I've found that the latter is a perfectly acceptable spelling)
While on the subject of casto(e)rs find a set for your mind. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. Let the workshop evolve. Let your requirements evolve. After a time I suspect you'll come to the conclusion that it's a workshop, not a lounge, not a gym and not an office. You haven't got enough space for it to be of multifunctional use.
Brian
 
Last edited:
:ROFLMAO:
Thanks for confirming that I'm over thinking everything! I kind of knew it I guess :rolleyes:
And you are all correct, I need to JFDI, one of my many character flaws is over thinking to the point of it being a constraint. I really am trying to overcome it, I was hoping woodworking might help me achieve it, or at least make progress with it, but it's probably just another source of knowledge for me to over analyse.

  • Going through the exercise of writing it all out helps me think straight, and things are clearer for me now.
  • Sharing my thought process here and getting feedback helps me understand that what I really need to work on is the JFDI aspect.

So as stupid as it looks the exercise has inspired me to take action and not worry about it being wrong. So that's what I'm going to do!

Just a bit more thinking to do first... 😅 (joking)

Martin
 
I would ensure from the outset that I had plenty of power outlets and lighting options, meaning that they don’t become a restriction on the evolution of your workshop, nor something to further overthink.
 
When it comes to power outlets, people put rows of them along the walls but look at overhead and retractable cable management for portable equipment because using a powertool at the bench the power needs to come from behind not in front.
 
Spectric makes a good point. Another option to overhead that I’ve seen used is to mount power sockets on the front face of a bench, meaning the chord of power tools is entirely on your side of the work.
 
Wow! That's a lot to squeeze into that space. I think it's doable but there will be interference between the activities in the form of projects in progress getting in the way, dust everywhere all the time, materials and chemicals clogging the space and air as well as the procrastination caused by having too many things on the go at the same time (maybe that's just me).
As others have said it's best just to get on and let the space develop over time. Priorities will change and life will get in the way. Have fun.
 
You have made a beautiful space.
To achieve anywhere near your compromise you need to minimise machinery and especially dust. Forget metalwork and painting.
Take your insiration from people who do (probably japanese style) small joinery in what is otherwise their living space. Potentially work on the floor / trestles. Use hand tools. Eliminate sanding. Finish straight from the plane or scraper with waxes and oils.
Put things away in a wall full of cupboards when done.

That way you may keep a clean space for relaxing / office / yoga or whatever alongside your woodwork.

For undisciplined types like me, wanting to do wood and metal in half your space means I have to be careful when turning around, barely have space for 2 stools, and office / relax / armchair / exercise are dreams long gone. I've rehashed my workshop several times as interests widen and itches get scratched.

Ditch the bandsaw and use that space for a nice low noise extractor to hoover up your wood shavings.

Nothing wrong with planning. It helps. But now, take the first two or three steps that your plans are pointing you towards. Once you do, you'll change your plans. It's a process. The end goal will inevitably evolve.

Oh, and get a gazebo and a workmate so you can do everything else out in the garden between showers. Washing lines are for spray painting aren't they ? :-D
20220815_160252.jpg
 
Do I want to dive into this submarine thing? 🤔

The desk can be nothing more than a sheet of plywood a bit smaller than the one you have on sawhorses now in the same location. Attach it to the wall between the two electrical plugs on hinges. Drop it down when you want to play on the computer, look at plans or doodle if that's your thing. Machines can be in front of it and rolled out of the way when it is intellectual time. Second option would be a hinged flap on one end of the workbench but that would quickly become a work surface.

I have always had a cabinet saw and use it for most everything. It is the go to machine for me unless the job necessitates the bandsaw. I have had a simple mitre saw for decades and rarely use it, never having done anything more than pull it out and use it on the floor every few years. I recently got a good deal on an older sliding compound mitre saw with a stand similar yours. I see it as an outside construction tool especially as it throws dust everywhere and it takes up too much room. I got a cheap track saw a few years ago and use it primarily to breakdown sheet goods enough to handle with the table saw. They are heavier than I want to work with these days. I'm not a dumb and invincible as I once was. I see a MFT and the sliding compound mitre saw take up the same or more room than the table saw but they don't have the versatility for me at least. Go in the direction you are but be open to change in the future.

As you are going to mount most things on wheels you can play with them for a while and make changes down the road as needed. There is no shame in making an improved stand and repurposing the old one or even tossing it. Same with machines. You will find your needs change or are clarified with time and you'll adapt.

As for exercise your wood supply can become a variety of weights. Try curls with a 2"x10"x8' oak board. 😅

Pete
 
I would ensure from the outset that I had plenty of power outlets and lighting options, meaning that they don’t become a restriction on the evolution of your workshop, nor something to further overthink.
yeah that's one aspect you do need to plan because power is hard to add later
I have 9 double sockets in total, two with USB too, that's one every metre along every wall. It's a good point about central ones, I think I'm ok without that for the moment, I can easily add power to my workbench at the front later but I doubt I will need to.
All my power tools are battery operated, other than bandsaw and the fancy festool sander I was given

Martin
 
You have made a beautiful space.
To achieve anywhere near your compromise you need to minimise machinery and especially dust. Forget metalwork and painting.
Take your insiration from people who do (probably japanese style) small joinery in what is otherwise their living space. Potentially work on the floor / trestles. Use hand tools. Eliminate sanding. Finish straight from the plane or scraper with waxes and oils.
Put things away in a wall full of cupboards when done.

That way you may keep a clean space for relaxing / office / yoga or whatever alongside your woodwork.

For undisciplined types like me, wanting to do wood and metal in half your space means I have to be careful when turning around, barely have space for 2 stools, and office / relax / armchair / exercise are dreams long gone. I've rehashed my workshop several times as interests widen and itches get scratched.

Ditch the bandsaw and use that space for a nice low noise extractor to hoover up your wood shavings.

Nothing wrong with planning. It helps. But now, take the first two or three steps that your plans are pointing you towards. Once you do, you'll change your plans. It's a process. The end goal will inevitably evolve.

Oh, and get a gazebo and a workmate so you can do everything else out in the garden between showers. Washing lines are for spray painting aren't they ? :-DView attachment 142031
some great points in there. I wont get rid of the bandsaw though, I love it :)
great work gaining possession of the washing line.... or painting line I should say.
 
Do I want to dive into this submarine thing? 🤔

The desk can be nothing more than a sheet of plywood a bit smaller than the one you have on sawhorses now in the same location. Attach it to the wall between the two electrical plugs on hinges. Drop it down when you want to play on the computer, look at plans or doodle if that's your thing. Machines can be in front of it and rolled out of the way when it is intellectual time. Second option would be a hinged flap on one end of the workbench but that would quickly become a work surface.

I have always had a cabinet saw and use it for most everything. It is the go to machine for me unless the job necessitates the bandsaw. I have had a simple mitre saw for decades and rarely use it, never having done anything more than pull it out and use it on the floor every few years. I recently got a good deal on an older sliding compound mitre saw with a stand similar yours. I see it as an outside construction tool especially as it throws dust everywhere and it takes up too much room. I got a cheap track saw a few years ago and use it primarily to breakdown sheet goods enough to handle with the table saw. They are heavier than I want to work with these days. I'm not a dumb and invincible as I once was. I see a MFT and the sliding compound mitre saw take up the same or more room than the table saw but they don't have the versatility for me at least. Go in the direction you are but be open to change in the future.

As you are going to mount most things on wheels you can play with them for a while and make changes down the road as needed. There is no shame in making an improved stand and repurposing the old one or even tossing it. Same with machines. You will find your needs change or are clarified with time and you'll adapt.

As for exercise your wood supply can become a variety of weights. Try curls with a 2"x10"x8' oak board. 😅

Pete
nicer and simple idea to have the flap on the side of the bench, that could work really well... would still need someplace to put the chair though... hmmm
I wondered if I could get rid of the mitre saw actually, but I think its handy now and again, It can sit underneath a bench if needed, out of the way, I won't keep that folding stand floating around though, I know that much.

great idea to use wood to exercise with :)
M
 
So having been inspired by the comments (had my but kicked)... myself and my youngest daughter went off in to the workshop and made 'something'. She wanted a little sign for her room to indicate to her sister if she wanted to be alone or if its 'play time'. So we just made one.

Pretty much zero planning, minimal thought on the design or dimensions, zero measuring and marking, and just 'doing'. We both had a great time, and it came out really nice. Took under an hour start to finish. We used the 'desk' and the floor, and the B&D workmate outside as the sanding area.

It would have been a bit quicker and a bit nicer if it was a bit easier to get to my tools... but it wasn't the ordeal that my subconscious might have predicted had I given it chance to think. Piece of cake actually :) and I had fun.

Evidence

h1.jpeg

h2.jpeg

h3.jpeg

h4.jpeg


Her woodworking skills are better than her spelling - probably the right priority :)

thank you all for the but kicking!
Martin
 
Great getting her started young but she defo needs some sort of foot protection. Not just from falling objects but relaxing on the floor one s too
 
Great getting her started young but she defo needs some sort of foot protection. Not just from falling objects but relaxing on the floor one s too
I'll nip out and get her some steel toe caps in the morning 👍
My wife handles the health and safety, I am absolutely useless, try my best but I often forget the basics.

Martin
 
Mitch Peacock on youtube has a clean space like that.
Worth a look for your particular needs I think, just for a taster of methods by hand.

I don't think he has an MFT, and if he does have something like that,
he doesn't use it anymore, (should tool companies have requested something more along the lines of this, that was/is still rife on youtube and became a career for some)

A solid timber workbench or two and a few hand tools would be a start, and likely strike the other things off the list, like having a gym for instance.


Guessing you have another space for clutter like lawnmowers, bicycles or whatever.

Good luck
Tom
 
Mitch Peacock on youtube has a clean space like that.
Worth a look for your particular needs I think, just for a taster of methods by hand.

I don't think he has an MFT, and if he does have something like that,
he doesn't use it anymore, (should tool companies have requested something more along the lines of this, that was/is still rife on youtube and became a career for some)

A solid timber workbench or two and a few hand tools would be a start, and likely strike the other things off the list, like having a gym for instance.


Guessing you have another space for clutter like lawnmowers, bicycles or whatever.

Good luck
Tom
Hi Tom, thanks for the tip on mitch, I will check that our right now.
Yes, I have a space for clutter, a separate shed and also something we call the storage area which is like a carport, but gated off and instead of a car has loads of shelves.
So the workshop doesn't need to cater for bikes, tents, spades, tools that are hardly ever needed etc

Which is a big plus because the clutter would kill the idea for me.

Martin
 
I checked out Mitch, interesting workshop/conservatory :)
seems to be 100% hand tools too which is pretty interesting.
 
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