Setting up a woodworking workshop for the first time can be a very daunting task. In this article, I will explain how to prepare a workshop checklist, what a workshop should include, and how to organize a workshop.
How to prepare a workshop checklist
Before preparing a woodworking workshop checklist, you should first identify the type of woodworker that you are and the type of projects that you will be creating. The reason for this is because you will need to determine the type of machinery that you will use and the space that you will need.
- Determine Space
- Have enough space for the machinery you need
- Have enough space for size of projects you will create
- Problem: not enough space
- Create space saving options or compromise
- Determine workflow
- Allow for easy maneuverability
- Allow enough space to work on project and use machinery effectively
- Ventilation and outlets
- Openable windows , large doors, fans, and A/C
- Enough 3 prong outlets
- Heating and cooling
- Heating and/or cooling system
- Proper insulation
- Dust control
- Individual tool dust bag
- Dust filtration system
- Dust suction system, like a shop vac
- Proper PPE
- Fire Extinguisher
- Surge protector
- Proper storage for all materials and tools
- Wall storage
- Table storage
- Ceiling storage
- Storage cabinets
- List of rules and numbers to call
- Visible list if other workers will be present besides yourself.
Below I will discuss in detail the woodworking worship checklist. Afterwards, I will discuss what you should include in your workshop and if you would like to skip to that part then you can click here.
Many woodworkers set up a shop in their garage, basement, or shed. You will need to determine if there is adequate space for a functional work environment.
If you are building a shop, then you can get the size that you desire, assuming there are no other factors like HOA regulations. However, if you are working in a prebuilt space, then you will need to work with what you have.
1. List tools
When determining all the space that you need you need to list all of the major tools that you will use. For example if you will be using a table saw, miter saw, drill press, stationary planar, or router table, then you will need to calculate it in your storage space.
If you do not know what tools you will need, then you should check out another article where I explain which woodworking tools every beginner should have and a guide to buying the most 23 common woodworking tools
2. Project size
Once you determine the tools that you will use, next consider the size of projects that you will be creating. A rule of thumb is to have enough space to rip through an 8ft piece of 2×4. If you are working with any form of precut lumber, you will start with an 8 ft piece of wood.
Make sure you have enough space to use your machinery and support the length of the wood that will be going on it.
To make this work the easiest, it is best to have a mobile workspace. You would either want a mobile table saw or a tabletop table saw on a mobile workbench. This will allow you to move the equipment in the general free area of the workshop instead of dedicating space to each piece of equipment.
Problem: If there is not enough space
If you think that you do not have enough space, then there is no need to worry.. yet. You can set up a typical workshop in as little as 75 square feet of space.
However, if you have less space than that, or if you find out that the amount of tools that you have require more space than that, then you still have a few work arounds.
The multifunctional workbench
There are many space saving options that you are likely not utilizing. The workbench that you use can be multifunctional and foldable. You have have a table saw integrated in your workbench that can flip when not in use and a foldable work bench to allow for more workspace.
Additionally, the way you store plywood can save a lot of space. You can utilize ceiling storage or vertical wall storage to allow for more workspace.
Storage of small tools and materials
My paint cans, mineral spirits, rags, drills, sanders, and nail guns are some of the smaller items that take can easily take up tremendous space. If you do not have enough space for a dedicated storage cabinet then you can utilize storage options in your work bench, wall storage, and maybe even ceiling storage.
In my garage, the previous owners had ceiling storage that I utilize for all of my chemicals and tools that I do not use often.
I then have storage under my workbench and miter saw table for more commonly used items.
If you are still having trouble or need some ideas, looking up space saving options in woodworking workshops online will give you a tremendous amount of ideas, some of which I would never think of.
After you decide how much space that you will need for your workshop, now it is time to look at the work flow. This may seem simple, but many people forget the importance of creating a workshop that is workable.
You want to create space between tools to allow for easy maneuverability. It is also best to have like things besides each other. So like on one side of the shop you can have your heavy cutting equipment like your miter and table saw, and on the other side you have a setup for finishing products like glue, screws, and drill bits.
While this will allow for ease of use and prevent running back and forth, it is not necessary. It may be more difficult to do in a smaller workshop.
What’s essential is to not only have enough space for the tools and equipment, but have enough space to move through the shop and work on projects.
It is easy to have enough space for your wood and tools. But think about it, you will need to be working with the wood, flipping it, and carrying it. You will want adequate space to prevent injury.
Ventilation and outlets
When building a woodworking workshop or looking to integrate an area to one, you will need to consider the amount and the placement of electrical outlets.
Outlets and safety
The majority of houses now have 3 prong outlets, however, if you are in an older home that may not always be the case. Many older homes have more 2 prong only outlets. You will need to ensure that the area you are working in has adequate 3 prong outlets
You can use extension cords, but using too many extension cords for an outlet can cause electrical issues and a potential fire. So it is essential to have enough outlets to start with.
Ventilation is important because you will be working with materials and chemicals that are toxic and harmful to your body.
Not having adequate ventilation will lead to an increased concentration of VOCs from chemicals and wood dust from machines.
If you do not have adequate ventilation then you can invest in a dust filtration system and/or a high quality respirator. You can also decrease the amount of dust in your shop by purchasing tools with dust bags and a dust collection system like a shop vac.
Even if you do have adequate ventilation, it is always also good to have these things. You cannot go wrong with a high quality respirator. Additionally, dust bags, a dust filtration system, and a dust collection system will limit the amount of particles that need to be naturally ventilated.
Heating and Cooling
Depending on the time of year and where you live, you may have issues with being too hot or too cold. Having an insulated garage door or a shed with adequate temperature regulation is important to be comfortable woodworking.
Where I am from, for me, it gets really hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I also work out of my garage. I have an insulated garage door and installed insulation in the walls, which has made a huge difference. However, it can still get pretty hot and cold for my liking.
Wherever you are setting up shop, ensure that you have insulation and some form of AC and heat to regulate the temperature.
Types of heating and cooling systems
If you do not have a good AC and/or heating system, then you can buy a portable system.
When buying a portable system, it is essential to get a system that will support the total space. For example, if you are using half of a garage, it is best to bet a system that can heat the majority of the garage and not just the space that you are working in because the heat will dissipate throughout the garage and be less effective.
As mentioned in the ventilation section, dust control is essential to keep your workshop clean and safe. There are many effective and less effective methods to control dust.
One of the more effective methods is to purchase a dust filtration system. These systems can range from around 150 to thousands of dollars. Of course, it will range greatly in the effectiveness of the filtration machine and the area that it supports.
Moreover, a dust bag collection system can be assembled with most tools. When purchasing tools it is important to get tools that can be integrated with a dust collection system individually.
If you are interested in learning more features that you should look for when purchasing tools, then you should check out my other article the 9 quality tool features.
Additionally, an external dust cleanup or collection system is good to limit the amount of dust in your shop. A dust suction system is better to have than a dust blowing system because less dust will become airborne as a result even though a dust suction system likely takes longer. A shop vac is a common dust suction system for woodworkers.
Storage is important to stay organized and to keep your woodworking workshop clean. It is also essential to have good storage options if you do not have much space to work with in your workshop.
I explained in the space section above on storage options if you are running out of space.
When creating your workshop, it is ideal to consider the storage of small and larger items. Having good and easy to use storage will make your experience much more enjoyable.
It is a good idea to utilize wall storage, ceiling storage, and bench side storage. Clamps can become messy and disorganized so having a dedicated storage for clamps are helpful. Drill bits, nails and screws, router bits, hand tools, batteries, and writing utensils can become very cluttered and messy. You can create a well organized drawer storage or a well organized and easy to access wall or bench side storage.
List of rules and numbers to call
If you are setting up a shop not only for yourself but for others to use, then you will want to have a posted list of rules and numbers to call when things go wrong. If you will have other workers in your shop, then you will need to consider the laws of the land to ensure you are not violating business laws or OSHA regulations.
What should a workshop include
A woodworking workshop can be started with little materials. However, if you are a person who would like to be in the shop for at least a few time of month, then you will want to invest in not only space and functionality, but also comfort.
When creating a woodworking workshop, some of the things that you should include in your shop are..
- Outlets and surge protector
- When setting up a shop, it is essential to look at the number of outlets and to make sure that they are 3 prong outlets.
- Not having enough outlets can be fixed by using an extension cord, but too many cords plugged into one outlet can be a fire hazard.
- Fire extinguisher
- A fire extinguisher should be somewhere in your workshop where it is easy to access.
- Dust control system
- A dust control system is essential to limit the amount of dust in the workshop. You can purchase tools with individual dust collection bags and/or a full dust filtration system for your shop.
- A shop vac is a good option to pick up excess dust since a broom or dust blowing system will put more dust into the air
- Heating and cooling system
- Depending on your location and the time of year, a heating and/or cooling system may be needed.
- Insulation should be used in conjunction with a heating and cooling system to ensure the shop stays at the ideal temperature
- Proper flooring
- While may be overlooked, the flooring is important when woodworking. Working on improper flooring can be a serious safety hazard.
- Any form of sturdy flooring should suffice, like concreted, cement, tile, and wood.
- When building your own shop, it is important to allow for enough support so that the flooring does not warp or bend over time with heavy stationary materials
- Any form of grave or turf flooring is not a safe option for a workshop
- Proper PPE
- Having the proper PPE in a workshop is essential to the safety of the woodworker.
- To learn more about proper PPE, you should check out my article that explains PPE types and safety concerns when woodworking.
- A hazard free organization system
- This is not one system but something that you will implement throughout your workshop.
- You will need to ensure that there are no trip, cuts, or falling hazards throughout your shop.
- To do this you will need to keep the floors clean and route cables that are not in the walkways of your shop.
- You will also need to make sure the blades for all of the saws are covered by a guard and that there are no sharp items sticking out throughout the shop.
- Lastly, you will need to make sure that everything is secure and sturdy. You do not want your hand built miter table to fall over or a piece of plywood that is in ceiling storage to fall.
- Wide door opening
- While this is not necessary for every woodworker, it is necessary to have a a wider door to support larger projects when moving it out of the shop.
- List of rules and numbers to call
- If you are working with others, then it is necessary to have listed rules and numbers to call
- Proper tools and materials
- Now finally, you will need to ensure that you have the proper tools and materials to carry out the job.
- This is very important because you cannot start woodworking without them, but safety comes first
- Adequate storage space
- Lastly, you will need somewhere to store all of you materials. If you are running on space, then you can find many space saving storage options
In this article we learned about the necessary items that you will need to create your workshop for woodworking.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and I wish you luck on your woodworking journeys!
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