Woodworking Tips, Tricks and Techniques


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Setting Up a Home Woodshop

How To Set Up a Home Woodshop

 There are many things to consider when setting up a woodshop at home. The task can be somewhat intimidating, and even professionals find decision making to be difficult.

This is easy to understand when you consider, for a professional, his livelihood depends on production. The faster he / she is able to move the project out the door, the faster he gets paid. No pressure here, right?


The situation isn't quite so critical for hobbyist woodworkers, though the enjoyment level you experience will be much higher, if your work area is well organised. The frustration experienced in searching for your "stuff" is quite irritating.

If you're sharing an area with cars and washing machines, is even more important to take care in your layout. (free woodshop layout software is available on my website).

If I had to work in a small space, I would consider a multi purpose tool, like a shopsmith. Actually, prior to owning a woodshop, I did use a shopsmith for a number of years. Many of my first commissions were done on this machine. I simply didn't have space for every machine available for woodworking, nor could I afford them.

Another plus is you're likely to find a good used machine, bought by someone who thought they would like to give woodworking a try. (kind of like those exercise machines, with clothes hanging from them). These machines may have less than ten hours on them.
On the down side, they require much more planning, when switching from one function to another. I can't say I wouldn't prefer dedicated machines, but they do require much more space.

Most independent machines for home shops are small enough to put on mobile bases. This will be a big asset in small spaces. You'll be able to keep everything against a wall, and pull it out as needed.

If your space is in the home, such as the basement, you'll need to be very conscious of dust, and noise. Your spouse won't appreciate all of your nice projects, if you keep the kids awake, or have dust tracked around the house. I worked in a basement woodshop for years.

A drop ceiling will do wonders in reducing the noise level, as will sound insulation between the joists. Another way to handle this is make use of the machinery early, and save the hand work for later.

Dust can be controlled through religious use of a dust collection system, even if it's just a shop vac, hooked to the machines. There are several brands of room dust collectors that hang from the ceiling and do very well at keeping the air clear.

Try to layout your tools in the order they are used. Woodworking machines are used in a specific sequence. Meaning a jointer next to the table saw makes sense. A planner next to a jointer also makes sense. If you consider the types of projects you want to do, and the order that you do it, layout will be easier to determine.

Electric is another item to be considered, but use of extension cords will make this a non critical factor. Just make sure the cords are heavy enough for the tool or machine.

Also, the quality of your tools will play a big part in actually enjoying this hobby. Poor quality tools lead to poor quality results. It's far better to have a few good tools, than it is to have lots of junk.

Things to consider are plentiful, but better to do most of it prior to setting up, than having to change everything later.

The old adage: "never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over", is very applicable here too.


The Workshop Book The Workshop Book
The craftsman’s guide to making the most of any work space. Fully- illustrated guide features over 300 photographs of workshops as well as 20 detailed floor plans for a range of work-space possibil.. 

The Workshop Book


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Wood Magazine Best Home Shops 2009

WOOD Magazine's
Best Home
Woodshops 2009