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Setting Up Your Home Workshop

Once you have gathered your starting tools, it is time to set up shop. A common misconception for many beginning woodworkers is that you need a large space for your work area. But, something as small as a home basement can be turned into a workshop, the key is how to effectively utilize the available space.

1. Create a work triangle

The first task when planning your home workshop is figuring out how space is going to be used. This is where a work triangle will be handy. The work triangle is a simple diagram listing the areas where most of the work done on a project takes place. In the case of the home woodwork shop, these areas would be the stationary power tools, the workbench, and the storage area for tools and supplies; Decide on how much of the available space you want to allocate for each point of the triangle. You can visualize the would-be arrangement of the room by using cutouts of each stationary machine, benches, and storage cabinets. Try different arrangements to see which setup would work best.



2. Ensure Accessibility

When doing a project, getting each tool as easily as you can is important to save precious time. Here, the trick is to arrange everything in a logical manner. A common method is to place the most used tools nearest to the work bench, with the other stuff arranged according to decreasing levels of importance. For instance, power tools like drills and the circular saws should be put nearer to get to them quicker. Another important reminder here is to store related items together. Drill bits should be placed beside the drill bodies while saw blades and attachments are stored near the jig saw. Label each item properly, so they can be easily identifiable at a quick glance.



3. Plan your movement around the shop

When doing your projects, you can expect yourself to move around and in and out of the area a lot. Doing the above arrangements helps reduce time spent in walking to and from the various cabinets and storage bins. Aside from the arrangement, though, you also need to consider the specific distance between each item, so you can easily reach each.

Since this is your shop, it is essential for it to be tailor-fitted to you. Take your height and arm reach into consideration when determining the distance and placement of items. Leave enough room so that you won’t end up bumping onto things. Also, note that this reminder isn’t just for spacing. Adjust benches and workstations to your physique, so that you won’t have to work in awkward and pain-inducing positions, such as having to arch your back.

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4. Make it easy to get in and out of the shop

Prepping for work and closing shop can be time-consuming if not planned well in advance. For instance, you might end up spending almost an hour just figuring out how to get a large wooden board in while you might also have a hard time trying to get a large finished piece out. Decide early as to what type of projects you want to work on in the workshop and determine whether your space would fit those.

Prep up and clean up should also be taken into consideration. Ensure that all the tools you will need are easily accessible before beginning work and that they can be readily put back to storage after you are done for the day. Use easy to open, organized cabinets and storage to facilitate this.


5. Put a space where you can think comfortably

Working in the shop is not just about hammering and sawing wood. Often, you would be simply sitting there for minutes while thinking of the next project you want to do. Thus, you need to have a small space where you can comfortably do so. A simple comfortable chair and drafting board or table that can be easily stored away would be a good choice. Make sure this area is free of any clutter so as not to be distracting.


6. Create flexible space

As you go on with your woodworking projects, you are likely going to move things around a lot. For instance, you might have to reposition old equipment to make way for new ones or leave more room to work on. Make it easier for you by mounting everything on wheeled bases. Remember to make sure workflow is not hampered when you move around stuff.



Now that you have a general sense of how the shop should be laid out…..

We will go into some specifics of setting it up:

1. Determine if the room you are using is large enough. List down the sizes of each of the equipment you plan to install, plus the actual working area for each. Some of the most common are as follows:

  • Table saws are usually around four feet by four feet and need an extra two feet on each side to give room to stand and move around, as well as feed material into it.
  • Band saws are smaller than table saws, and can be propped up in a space of just three feet by five feet. It would be best to have them set up on a dedicated stand.
  • When using table-mounted machines like routers, shapers, and planers, leave more room in front to feed material in, though the rear should also have enough clearance for clean-up of excess material later.
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2. Determine how many tables and benches you will need. Often, you will need a single large work bench around three feet wide by six feet long for most of your work, with one or two small tables for smaller stations.

3. Take the ceiling height into consideration. You don’t want to break light bulbs wje4mn bringing in wood. A higher ceiling also provides more room for air to circulate in. A ten-foot high ceiling would be a good option for most projects.

4. If you plan on storing raw materials, you also need to take into account where you will put them. Smaller wood blocks and planks will be a lot easier to store. In case you have no room to spare, you will have to store them outside. Place them on an elevated platform and put a cover so as for the wood not to be soaked in water.

5. Check that the room has adequate ventilation. Woodworking produces a lot of dust; which can make it difficult to work. Paints and other chemicals can also produce noxious fumes. Large, open windows will provide you with constant fresh air while sizable exhaust fans will remove dust easily. Ensure that these are well maintained at all times.

6. Provide ample lighting and electrical connections. Use efficient lighting like fluorescent or LED bulbs to light the work area. Also, avoid using too many extension cords that you can trip over. Instead, allot a separate outlet for each work area. Make sure the wiring will be able to handle the load of all the machines.

7. Ensure safety at all times. A good fire extinguisher is a must for any shop. Also keep a well-stocked first aid kit nearby in case of accidents and injuries. Lastly, ensure that sharp tools are covered during storage and that the shop is locked whenever you are not using it.


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