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Thread: Arranging the shop

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia

    Arranging the shop

    I'm a little confused about how the shop should be organized. It seems to me that some of the machines need a lot of space on either side of them for maneuvering boards. I have about 600 ft2, which I think is generous and more space than many have, but all of a sudden it doesn't seem so big any more if I need to leave a lot of space around everything.....So do many of you have machines on wheels that you move out as needed and move out of the way when you don't need them?

    I'm interested to know how others manage laying out their equipment if they have my amount of space or less?

    Thanks all,
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    mobile bases are not a bad idea if you intend on having alot of equipment.
    Especially for the smaller stuff. TS, jointer, be nice if they had there own spot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Santa Claus, In
    Mine is smaller than yours. I would be lost without the invention of the wheel. Everything has wheels on it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    Grizzly has a shop layout program on their website, complete with tool icons. It is real handy to experiment with the locations of tools.

    Basically, think of work flow. Where does wood come into the shop or where is it stored? Then what is the first tool you will use to begin the milling process? Then the next tool, etc? Where will you store pieces as you mill them? Where will the assembly area be, and finally, where will you finish it?

    Obviously there can be space overlaps. While 600 sqft is generous, it is not WalMart sized! Also, as one person, you likely will not be rough cutting and sanding at the same time.

    In my old shop, I grouped the TS, the SCMS, the Performax, the jointer, and the planer together. Close by was the BS and DP and spindle sander in its group.

    Toolboxes were on wheels, as were the DP (it was a benchtop), the Performax, and the spindle sander. Now I also have a mortiser on wheels.

    Wood and scrap storage are always the hardest. I built a 24" deep loft on one wall (10' ceilings). It was for jig storage and little used tools and supplies. My office was in the house. The new shop will have a small office and half-bath. Getting the older. The commode needs to be closer!

    Don't forget a flat assembly table. I made a torsion box under a block and tackle. Lowered it when needed. The block and tackle also helped pick up and turn around large assemblies when I needed to deal with them.

    The hand bench and hand tool storage occupied the middle of one long wall. Under that bench were hand-held power tools.

    I finished outdoors. Lived in Southern California at the time. That won't work anymore!

    Interesting that you are dealing with 600 sqft. That is the planned space of my new shop.

    So think in terms of work operations and group tools and supplies.

    Now you can see how the Grizzly shop planer can be real handy. Whole lot easier on the back than moving tools around!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Decatur, Alabama
    There's no "right" answer to this, although I agree with Carol's suggestions. I think the best shop layout will depend a whole lot on what size projects you are taking on. You can't make it meet every circumstance that will come up, so you need to optimize a shop for what you will do with it.

    Making small hardwood projects is a lot different than ripping a full sheet of plywood. So you want to layout with the size wood you think you're dealing with in mind. If you want to work with some large projects, you'll probably have to use more mobile equipment to get plenty of clearance on your tools. Smaller projects you can live with less clearance and more stationary items.

    If you are just worried about the unusual long board that you might want to cut, don't forget about doors and windows. I've seen a lot of shop layouts that just open a garage door to cut a long board on a TS.

    I have used the grizzly shop layout tool a lot recently trying to plan a new workshop. Also looking at pictures here, on the Finewoodworking website, and oneida air systems picture gallery has a lot of shops. They're good for layout and storage ideas.

    One mobile thing I really wish was stationary is my table saw. 95% of the time the mobile base isnt' a big deal, but I do occasionally put a full sheet of plywood on it to rip longways and even at 500 lbs the saw isn't as solid as I'd like. Most of the mobile bases can wiggle a little and flex if you have enough force on them.

    Another really nice suggestion I heard in a class at the woodworking show, put up french cleat all the way around your shop. Build all the wall hanging items to mount on that, and you can re-arrange your shop whenever you want. You can hang cabinets, racks, pegboard, whatever off the two runners and move them easily.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    carols thoughts and advice is so crystal well thought out. Carol should hang out a shingle, Shop Consultant. workflow, etc.....I played with grizzleys shop layout for days, I was running into my garage at 1:30 in the morning one night to measure the dimensions of all my machines.

    one thing I wanted to mention, is that I planned my newly arranged shop all around figuring Im going to do most of my work in the center, where the most open space will be, and I went with work flow around the circumference of the area. All tools can be rolled in shortly with minimum effort, and hooked up to dust control and power within one minute. (the tools I use most, planer, jointer, sander, tablesaw, mitre saw.)
    I agree 1000% with carol and the rest here that suggested a torsion box top for a work bench.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Inside the Beltway
    Quote Originally Posted by allen levine View Post
    I agree 1000% with carol and the rest here that suggested a torsion box top for a work bench.
    For an assembly table, you need a dead flat surface, so a torsion box is a great idea. Lowering from the ceiling is brilliant! I think I'll try that, if I can move the lights and make sure it stores above the rolling shop door. I think I've got about twelve inches there...

    Not sure about a torsion box for an actual woodworking bench. I'm fond of pounding on things...

    Everything in my shop is on wheels. *Everything.* Casters, actually... the tablesaw router table combo has 12 casters on it.

    One thing to remember. It sounds silly, but the shop isn't for machines, it's for *you*! Make sure you plan for how you'll move around the shop, have a place to work, and a place to sit while you ponder the age old question: "Why did I make *that* silly mistake!"

    One of the reasons I get tired in the shop is because there's nowhere to sit...



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    gotta have a stool or chair bill, gotta relax when ya have your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    The only tool every shop needs is a chair.
    It is best if the chair is on wheels because every time you turn around that chair will be in your way.
    There is no how to arrange your shop. It's your shop it needs to be arranged to work for you. Everything in my shop is on wheels except the bandsaw and the PM lathe they are a smidgen big for wheels.
    You will also find that the shop may need to be arranged different for different projects.
    Last edited by Chuck Thoits; 11-06-2010 at 09:39 PM.
    It could be worse You could be on fire.
    Stupid hurts.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Chuck nailed it. There is no 'correct' way. I arranged my shop (280 sq. ft.) in a way I felt best suited me and my work habits. Nothing is on wheels but I can see where my jointer will be getting some and possibly my table saw. I tried using the Grizzly lay-out tool but, according to it, my shop won't hold the stuff I have in it.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

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