Last Updated on 2020-11-07 by Harry Masterton
I believe that most people have enough space to create a small woodworking hobby shop and the things discussed below can help to get them up and running in no time.
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- 1 How Small Can A Woodworking Hobby Shop Be?
- 1.1 Download Our Free Guide To A Small Space Home Workshop
- 1.2 Laying Out A Smaller Woodworking Hobby Shop
- 1.3 Setting Up Shop For The Woodworking Hobby
How Small Can A Woodworking Hobby Shop Be?
I started out woodworking hobby in a garage that served as a shop area for everyone's hobby. The whole family used it when needed. One of my goals, when I moved out, was to create my own workshop which seemed impossible at first as I was living in a second-story apartment.
I learned to get by with the four-foot by six-foot space found on my balcony and when I upgraded my living space there was a walk-in closet of similar size that was used as a work area.
Over the years I have come to believe that you can have a functioning shop for woodworking hobby in an area no larger than eight-foot by eight-foot, and I am not the only experienced woodworker who thinks this way.
That 64 square feet of space will allow work on most projects using the hand and power tools required to finish the job properly. It will also be able to store tools and equipment when they are not in use while providing plenty of ventilation as well as dust extraction. Last, but not least, this space can be used safely with just a little patience and planning.
My woodworking hobby shop was born!
Laying Out A Smaller Woodworking Hobby Shop
I spent many years moving around and each stop brought a new challenge to my ability to make the available space work for my woodworking hobby. A key ingredient in making a small shop work is using that limited space efficiently.
It starts by looking at the areas that are available to create a woodshop in. This could be an unfinished basement, garage, attics, storage closets, shed, patio, or room.
Just remember that the higher you go the harder it is to get your lumber, wood stock and tools into your wood shop and of course get your finished projects down.
If you do have a basement or a garage with adequate space for your small shop then these are the ideal choices.
Next, I try to determine what advantages and disadvantages each space has. A smaller room that is wired and provides access to air/light through a window could be a better workshop location than a larger unfinished basement that requires wiring.
Once the area with the most advantages has been selected, the next step is to create a floorplan based on the projects being made as well as the tools needed for them. Keep in mind the need to provide dust collection in shops that use a lot of power tools. Also, ventilation is a factor when projects have stains and/or protective coats applied to them.
I have found many resources online and in magazines or books that provide some tips to take advantage of tools in small spaces. Some resources provide just an idea or two, while others offer complete instructions for setting up a small woodworking shop. I have been able to take ideas from others and apply them to my unique shop space with great success
Setting Up Shop For The Woodworking Hobby
Start with the workbench
The most important tool in my woodworking shop is the woodworking bench. I have made a few of them over the years and there are a couple of designs that fit well within a limited shop footprint.
- A workbench with a top that flips over is ideal for small shops. It provides a work surface to work on a project that can then be flipped over to provide access to power tools that are attached to that surface.
- Another excellent small shop bench is the stow-away design that folds up into a cabinet on the wall when it is not in use.
- The traditional English or Roubo-style bench can also be useful in a small shop if they are built to a smaller scale.
- A mobile bench that has become popular recently is the low Roman workbench made popular by legendary woodworker Christopher Schwarz.
Take a look at the amazing Roubo-style bench over at Benchcrafted. It's mouthwateringly expensive but beautifully made. They also have an classic style benches with option to buy the woodworking bench plans for just $23.
If you're just starting out then a portable folding bench may be the answer. Checkout our woodworking bench recommendations in this article
Which power tools need space?
Small woodworking hobby shops often get by with hand-held power tools. They can often do the job, but larger benchtop and free-standing models are more accurate as well as more powerful in most cases. This is where customization can truly kick into high-gear as the tools most often used on projects take priority over tools that get used less.
Were noise is a factor as it might be in an apartment then stick to smaller projects using hand tools like a good set of chisels and build up your skills.
Cutting boards and panels are something all woodworkers do, and I have found that the circular saw is indispensable in the shop. There are others who feel the same way about their bandsaw or miter saw. Drilling is another consideration and I have a small drill press in my shop. Some woodworkers will simply use a powered drill or handtools instead, using guides to keep the bits straight.
There are also larger power tools that cannot be easily replaced with a hand-held tool, powered or not. A lathe is a valuable tool for the woodshop that makes lots of table or chair legs, and it is the most important tool for the wood turner. Woodworkers who find limited use for it could skip it and opt to fill the space with a good table saw or miter saw.
Storage space for hand-held tools and accessories
Hand-held power tools are essential in most of today's woodworking hobby shops. They provide efficiency and speed over traditional hand tools while costing less than the larger models that require lots of room. They need to be out of my way when not in use, however particularly in a small shop with limited space.
The same can be said for my measuring devices and hand tools, like my collection of chisels and hand planes. Finding space under benches only goes so far, so my shop I make use of shelves, cabinets, as well as some toolboxes. Selecting storage options that match your woodshop floorplan will allow you to maintain access to stored items without tripping over them while you work.
Staying organized is key to working in a small woodworking hobby shop, so using hooks and racks is a great option for all those bar clamps and woodworking jigs that I make all of the time.
Dealing with dust and fumes
The best layout in the world will not help to prevent dust and shavings as lumber is milled planed or sanded before staining, but it can provide space for tools that can. Many smaller woodworking shops make use of a shop vac in place of a dust collection system with ports at each power tool. I always suggest that you consider where the debris and equipment are going to be stored once it has been picked up from the floor or blown off of the wood's surface.
Again do not hesitate to make use of good online sources that provide options for things like dust collection in a small woodworking hobby shop. That applies to understanding how to properly vent to keep everyone safe when chemicals are in use as well.
Staying Safe In Smaller Woodshops
Finally, keep in mind safety when working in smaller areas, including:
- adding non-skid tape or work mats on certain floors
- making sure there is adequate light in the shop
- keeping cords and equipment out of the way when not in use
Adding a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher is also a good idea. I also like to keep safety data sheets on all chemicals that are used. I also make sure to use properly rated extension cords and outlets in my shop.