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Small workshop layout ideas

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timwhatley

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Hello all,

I've recently moved into a new house, which has given me a dedicated workshop space for the first time. After getting the bench and a few starter pieces for the house built, I'm now trying to work out the most effective layout, as there are a few features in the room to work around - very keen for some wider thoughts and opinions!

First thing to know is that I'm primarily a hand tool woodworker, and mostly make furniture pieces - I have a bandsaw which is primarily for resawing and dimensioning stock, and a small benchtop pillar drill. I don't anticipate adding any further machines due to space, noise (it's a semi-detached house), and my preference for hand work. The space is around 3 x 3.5m, but has a fireplace with a wood burner along the bottom wall (in relation to the diagram), and top right is a door to the garden which needs clear access. The right wall adjoins the neighbors, left is a small shower and toilet room. The top and left walls feel hollow, but I know there's brick behind so I suspect it's just plasterboard over a stud frame.

Below is a sketch of the dimensions, with an illustration of how things are currently laid out, and a few pictures. The central position for the bench has been good for utilising the space, but it means I'm constantly walking around it. The other main issue is that the bandsaw is in an awkward corner behind the door, which means the bar from the fence is too close to the leg vice end of the workbench, so it's constantly in the way (I took these pictures before I got the bandsaw). I can push the saw further back up to the wall to gain another 8-12 inches of elbow space, but then I need to pull it back out every time to use - and also there's nowhere to put a dust collector without tripping over the pipe.

However if I keep it like this, I'll probably use the left wall (where the plasterboard sheet is) for wall cabinets and hangers to store tools, and maybe some low profile shelves to store timber. The wall is quite hollow sounding, but I know it's brick behind the cavity so may just rip out the plasterboard and sheath in Ply/OSB, then cover that with beaded MDF for a nicer look.

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Below is an alternative layout I've considered. I like idea of positioning the workbench under the window for light (where the radiator cover is in the pictures above), and it frees up the centre of the space.

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But the downsides are that there's no power on the left hand wall where I have the bandsaw pencilled in, so I'd need to extend wiring. Also if I put it there it's kind of in the way of the route between the workshop door (bottom left) and the garden door (top left), and I can't see where my current red shelving units would go for timber/tool storage without getting in the way of garden access.

Any ideas for how to make the best use of the space would be gladly received - either builds on what I have, or a completely new layout.

Thanks very much,
Tim
 

ian33a

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Welcome Tim,

I have my tools in my double garage and it isn't that much bigger than your space. I do have a fair bit of machinery as my preference is this over pure hand tools and these gobble up lots of space.

A couple of thoughts:

1) Do you ever plan to pass anything of length through the band saw? If you do, you need space for in and out feed. If you don't, it doesn't matter too much where you put it.

2) What do you need floor space for? I had that in one of my previous layouts and I seldom used it. When I did, I spent my life kneeling on the floor to do stuff. In my latest layout, there is relatively little floor space as I have raised the centre area by having an assembly bench in place of what was floor space.

One other thought, do you need any dust extraction for the bandsaw. Now could be the time to consider power for it as well as extraction capability.
 

Spectric

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Best solution in a small space is to make machinery easily movable and keep a careful eye on heights, by this I mean your workpieces need to enter and exit a machine without hitting something else. For me the mitre saw height is above the P/t and woodrat above workbench but below shelf. It is a case of being flexible, with a large workspace you can give machinery it's own space and have a fixed layout, but if like me it is on the small side you cannot have this privilege.

It can be a pain but until someone comes up with a Tardis we will have to live with it. There has been some good discusions on fitting castors to machinery so it can move easily, my mitre saw is on a unit that can easily move and when I need to do long lengths on bandsaw that also can be pulled forward. I would not spend ages thinking about it too much because you will not get it as you want first time round, as you work there better ideas will make you adapt.
 

artie

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I'll just chime in to say lovely place you have there to do some work.

Organisation is not my strong point but I set my bench and sliding mitre saw in line with the main door so that , if such a thing existed I could feed 20 m planks to the saw.

I set the table saw so that there is a door behind the run off table and if necessary I could have 6m of run off.

Everything else is quite disorganised.
 

timwhatley

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Thanks very much Artie! I'm very happy with it, just needs some organising. I used to have my tools all hung on the walls in a cupboard, now I've got an actual workshop but the tools are just spread all over the place.

That's why I made the thread really - while I agree with Spectric that it'll inevitably change, I do want to get some tool organisation built, and getting the layout sorted first will help me design that storage.

I think the most I'd run through the bandsaw as a single piece would be maybe four feet at the absolute most? Furniture sized parts. I'll crosscut any boards longer than that to rough length by hand first. The saw has a wheel kit, so I can always move around it if I have to run something particularly long through. I guess that means I need four feet either side of the saw ideally?

Some sort of dust collection would seem to be sensible, even though it's only one machine - and it's been something I've been considering. But in the current position there's no way to run a hose to it, so I've just been running over it with a Henry every so often for the time being!
 

Inspector

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I would put all on retractable wheels so repositioning is easy if a project or cleaning dictates. I would also put one French cleat right around the room about 1.5m to 1.8m high and make most of your tool cupboards, shelves and so on to hang on. Then you can rearrange as time and experience dictate. I strongly feel you should put more lights on the ceiling. LED baton lights don't use much power and throw lots of light. They are also low profile so hard to smack with a long board when working and if you do don't shatter all over your head.

Pete
 
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Ozi

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I would put all on retractable wheels so repositioning is easy if a project or cleaning dictates. I would also put one French cleat right around the room about 1.5m to 1.8m high and make most of your tool cupboards, shelves and so on to hang on. Then you can rearrange as time and experience dictate. I strongly feel you should put more lights on the ceiling. LED baton lights don't use much power and throw lots of light. They are also low profile so hard to smack with a long board when working and if you do don't shatter all over your head.

Pete
I think Pete is talking very sound advice here. Keep things as flexible as you can. Both my benches move, some projects call for a bench in the middle of the room and some need floor space, my new bench when I get it built will have a completely clear top with a lift out section to take any machinery I buy. My workshop is small and budget will not run to machines I cannot lift. That combined with mobile extraction should work out OK.

Notice:- Some of this I haven't done this yet but still feel free to offer it as advice... Let me know if it doesn't work and I will tell you where you went wrong.

I do have LED baton lights and am very pleased with the results, I will be adding two more shortly on separate switches so that I can light from oblique angles when necessary, additionally to the advantages Pete mentions they are rated for outdoor use and so sealed. when I took down my old florescent tubes they were full of 40 years worth of fine dust and must have been a fire hazard.
 

Stanleymonkey

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Fantastic looking workshop - was it a separate flat or set up as a workspace already?

With the wall between the two doors - how often do you use this route? Is it occasional access to the garden or daily carrying baskets of washing to hang out? There's a lot to gain from having storage there.

Pillar drill is quite close to the wall and a messy powertool. Might be worth having a re think and putting it near the bandsaw with a shared hoover.
 

timwhatley

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Fantastic looking workshop - was it a separate flat or set up as a workspace already?

With the wall between the two doors - how often do you use this route? Is it occasional access to the garden or daily carrying baskets of washing to hang out? There's a lot to gain from having storage there.

Pillar drill is quite close to the wall and a messy powertool. Might be worth having a re think and putting it near the bandsaw with a shared hoover.
Currently quite a bit, as it's our only route to the garden - but within the next year I'll be having a new outside staircase put in to replace one that was take down before we bought the house, and that'll give us garden access from the kitchen upstairs (house is built on a slope, so the basement is garden level at the rear, and the floor above is ground level at the front if that makes sense?). So long term, I can use that wall more - but for now I want to keep it pretty clear.

Maybe I could put the bandsaw where the red shelves are, up against the wall, and then run dust collection between that and the pillar drill? That gives outfeed clearance on the saw, and puts it closer to the pillar drill?

Great idea with the French cleat Pete - I was thinking of doing a shaker style peg board like the image below, which I think suits the hand tool aesthetic - but no reason I couldn't cut a french cleat into the top of the board and have it do double duty!

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And I'll look into LED strip lights - if I can wire these into the power for the existing ceiling lights, that'll certainly help. The natural light isn't brilliant with only one outside window, and it's a west facing room so only gets direct light from late afternoon.

Thanks very much for the input everyone!
 

Ttrees

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Nice looking space you've got there.
I'd modify that assembly table if need be, so as not too high for the bandsaw table and place it against the wall with the red tool box on the ground.
Do you use it, or only for the drill sake?
The way it looks now takes up a lot of room, and you have to stand away from it, as your toes would be hitting the strechers.

I'd have my tools there behind me on a narrower platform, and sharpening station, which would allow you the space for the bench to be nearer the wall with window and not fouling the bandsaw, which would likely be in the way or darkening the room if it were anywhere else.

Hard to know how much space is there and if enough for two island benches.
including a platform you need for the drill against the wall.

How much outfeed is through the door?, even if small, wouldn't be an issue to move the machine to use in the room's diagonal direction.

Interested to see what others would do, I know some might choose an L shaped bench.
A piccy or two with the machine in the room might give a better impression.

All the best
Tom
 
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