Designing a workshop
Finding the right layout for YOUR projects
Cutting, sawing, sanding, measuring, grooving…all of the sounds and sights of work tools in a smooth-running home workshop. Many creative pieces emerge from workshops that are well-designed, well-stocked and roomy enough to work about in. Almost habit-forming, working in your home workshop can give you a sense of self-satisfaction and accomplishment that is both relaxing and fulfilling.
Bob Vila, the television personality who made workshop work look incredibly easy in This Old House (1979-1989), has a workshop that would make any home crafter envious! His tools (and he has every one imaginable) are strategically placed, everything is neat and organized, and he turns out and reforms items in his workshop almost in a magical way. Doesn’t everyone want to be like Bob?
But, designing a workshop like Bob may not always be the best way or the right way for you to design your workshop. After all, he IS a television personality, right? Your workshop may not be as large or roomy, or you may not have all of the gadgets that he has. Aside from the awesome workshop that Bob worked in on his other series, Bob Vila (1990-2007), there were a lot of subtleties that the television network wove into designing a workshop that could be viewed by the television audience.
Some of these subtleties and nuances made the program suitable for viewing. However, as a homeowner, if you are considering designing a workshop for practical, daily use, there are some things that you should consider before try some of the handiwork that Bob Vila used.
When you initially decide to structure your workshop, develop a layout that works best for you, your craft goals and the space that you are working with. If your workshop is a small space in the garage, you may want to re-consider purchasing large, bulky equipment since your space is limited. Draw or roughly sketch plans that will show you where everything will be positioned and the best placement for certain items. Organizing your workshop/garage in a work-friendly fashion can help you work much easier.
With considering machine placement, decide where the best place for small and large machines will be. There may even be certain tools that can be suspended from the ceilings, with care of course. The rafters that hang from garage ceilings make good “hooks” to hang things from. This would include electric saws, hammers, or nail guns if wall space is limited.
Designing a workshop around large, bulky machines can be a challenge. You can position the machines underneath tables or stairs, but definitely keep a covering over them when they’re not in use. This will discourage “curious” fingers and also keep the machines free from dust.
There are some staples that you will find in any well-stocked workshop:
- Table saws, cross-cut saws (including radial-arm saws, miter saws, band-saw, scroll-saw)
- Jointers and planers
When you are designing a workshop around these items, it is best to work with the shape and bulkiness of the item, instead of against it. For instance, table saws are square and bulky and would possibly do well as close to the center of the room as is possible. But, since the jointers and planers are just as bulky, placing them in an L shape along the sides will work well with moving from one phase of the project to the next.
Let the cross-cut saw, the radial-arm saw and the miter saw extend from the wall on hooks, or from the side(s) of one the bulky machines. You can also position the other saws along the wall, mounted on wooden reinforcements.
Maximize your use of corners as much as possible in your workshop. This will free up space in the middle of the room and allow you to make full use of the corners of the workshop, especially if it is located in your garage.
Whatever the layout of your workshop is or whatever design you choose to give it, make sure that it is feasibly workable for your style of crafts and designs and for the space that you are working with. Be cognizant of the amount of space, maximizing it and situating your equipment for easy and safe access while you work. You are sure to enjoy your workshop and work in it more if you design it according to your own tastes and preferences.